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« Organization botheration | Main | Duck(lings)! »

May 07, 2007



Bester was, indeed, mindblowing, and I say that as someone who read it later, and who was immersed in SF/F from a very early age.

I've definitely had the "overblown, until you read it" experience, too, with a lot of authors whose best books just didn't seem that attractive on the surface.....

Then there's the other experience: the book you read which highlights every flaw of an author all at once, which causes you to revise downward all their work in your estimation. I can think of a couple of authors -- Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton are the first ones who come to mind -- who've ruined my enjoyment of their earlier books with their later work.


The Bride of Lammermoor at least has the virtue of being funny, which most gothic works regrettably only manage unintentionally.

I still remember being whacked over the head by "Adonais" after years of thinking Shelley was a mere whiny egotist. And yes, Bleak House. Maybe the only book of which I remember reading the first page, as vividly as a drunk's first drink, the first time novelistic prose really jumped out and grabbed me more than the story.

And Isak Dinesen's "The Immortal Story," which might be the first time I realized that a story could be about stories and also BE a really good story.

Stephen Brown

I remember when I first discovered that a narrator might not exactly be on the up-and-up. I was reading Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," and I was aghast. How could this be?!?! It made me suspect every other narrator I had ever come across.

George Kelley

Reading THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO in the Robin Buss translation changed my view of Dumas as a wind-bag. It's a brilliantly plotted book!

Using HARD TIMES in a class where the students had NEVER read Dickens, and watching Dickens win them over--that was unforgettable.

Reading Henry James in my 40's and finally "getting" what he was doing in THE ASPEN PAPERS...priceless.


Some years ago I read Old Mortality shortly after reading a not-bad contemporary spy novel, and had the reaction "This is great! Scott fills the "intelligent political thriller niche" and does it better and offers so much more!" However, except for Waverly, the others I've picked up have been disappointing (relative to Old Mortality), at least from this perspective.


Wonderful to see Bride of Lammermoor on your list. My students love it, and so do I. There's never been another Caleb Balderstone.

Dr. Dolen

This is a great question, indeed. I'll say that my three are 1) Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita; 2) Kafka's "Metamorphosis" and 3) Morrison's Beloved.

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