It's fascinating how many different views there are of the same books! Jane Eyre,
for example -- I'm not a great appreciator of the classics, but oh boy, do I love Jane Eyre!
If I'd been Miss Bronte's editor, I would have slashed the thing to bits, drastically reducing the time spent in the orphanage, tightening the time at St. John's, and cutting the last chapter off completely -- but still... such a great story.
Oh, when timid Jane stands up and looks Rochester in the eye and says something to the effect of, "If God had gifted me with great beauty like Blanche Ingram's, I would make it as difficult for you to leave me now as it is for me to leave you." Wow! When I first read that, I had never in my life had the courage to profess love to anyone -- but Jane did it, and oh, how I admired her!
I noticed somebody brought up Faulkner, and I must admit, I can't read him, either... so dense
with excruciating detail! I could feel my life slipping away moment by moment as I struggled through.
Steinbeck I managed, though -- I read Cannery Row
, and it's great, but yes, again, there's a density issue.
Bruce, it's true that The Stand
is tough, because of course it's an early work, before King got as blindingly brilliant with the language as he later became... and also because it's so blessed LONG!
But by golly, I read it -- the longer
version, too, the one with a few hundred extra pages that his publisher had originally made him cut out! And y'know what? It was such a powerful story that, years later, I READ IT AGAIN!
It's so ultimate, and so intimate, too. It deals with the most important stuff there is to deal with. And the main character, Stu Redman -- he's got to be the most honorable man in literature since Atticus Finch.
I read Moby-Dick!
And I loved it! It's a good one for reading out loud, doing voices and all... and it's in first person, which I love.
I don't think I've ever read a book in first person that I didn't enjoy.
Y'know, if you just can't read Moby-Dick,
you should at least see the movie. It's outstanding, Gregory Peck as Ahab. It should have been filmed in black-and-white, but it's great
Cata-mint, I tried to read The Unbearable Lightness of Being
too, because the title intrigued me -- but oh boy, are you ever right about that one! I absolutely cringed
from it, got maybe ten pages in and gave up on it forever. Blecch!
I have never read Ulysses
, though in Dublin, I walked in the famous footsteps of its hero. The reason I've never read it is that I once saw something on PBS, a filmed stage play written by Joyce, in which the actress delivered a lengthy monologue while using a chamberpot onstage.
Ever since then, I just haven't been able to get interested in James Joyce.
Now Hemingway -- I haven't read much of him, but what I've read is fascinating.
He's someone I need to seek out and catch up on.
I love Chandler and Hammett and all those stylized noir types -- but I cannot stand
Mickey Spillane, who is often categorized with them. Not sure why I react that way.
Speaking of noir -- I also love Dennis LeHane, Steve Hamilton, and Lee Child, all of whom have a bit of that terse, hard-edged style. They might be a good choice for those who don't like getting bogged down in needless detail or overblown prose.
(By the way...Dennis LeHane's Shutter Island
is one of the most compelling books I've ever read. I can't recommend it highly enough!)
But my current favorite writers are Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, both together and separately. They write very, very intelligent books full of historical elements and speculative science and -- oh, I can't even begin to do it justice! If you've seen the wonderful movie, "National Treasure," that's a very Preston-&-Child kind of story (though they did not write it). Are there any other Preston & Child readers out there?
And how does everybody feel about Shakespeare? I actually started reading him at age ten, believe it or not... and sure, it's hard reading because of the archaic structure and poetic style -- but it's so worth it! My gosh, he was great! Especially Hamlet.
You read Hamlet
and you're just stunned when it hits you how influential it's been, how many of the phrases and conventions that are fundamental to our language came straight out of that play. Shakespeare rocks!
Okay, I'm writing a book myself here. Sorry! But it's a great thread, a great topic... thanks for starting it, LG!