a sly declaration of new classic status slipped into a list of old safe ones

late last week, Kelly laid down a challenge: “What do you consider to be the most ass kicking top, say, 11 books written, and here’s the challenge, in the last 20 years?”

this was not an easy task. not easy at all. i had to cull through all my books, look at copyright dates, try to weed the list down to 11. then when i was about half-way through the culling of the list, i thought maybe she had said ‘novels’ and so i had to add a few more, just to make sure. but it’s books, so i’m taking that to include short stories and non-fiction. which makes the task infinitely more difficult, actually. so difficult in fact, that i had a minor rob gordonesque freak out (if you haven’t watched the deleted scenes in “High Fidelity” you need to and you’ll know what i’m talking about). so yeah, the question is too difficult to answer.

so i’m not gonna. well, not really, i’m putting in the top 11 ass-kickingest novels since 1985 according to me.

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, 1989
i’ve said 1000 times that this book changed my life

2. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, 1989
i loved this book so much, that i bought it years after i read it.

3. The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken, 1996
i remember buying this book. i was on the discover new writer’s rack at Barnes and Noble. i fell in love with it instantly and even now, all these years later. it still makes me cry.

4. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, 1996
it took me a year to read this beast. it haunted my dreams, slept on my pillow with me, and generally rocked my world.

E. An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender, 2000
i’ve bought this book at least five times, for different people (including the TTHM). i even wrote an odd ode to this book.

6. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 2004
cheesy romantic pulp wrapped in a clever concept, but you know what? i lost sleep over this one. i loved it that much.

7. Home Land by Sam Lipsyte, 2005
i haven’t written about this one at all. but it’s funny and good and twisted and dark and funny. it’s bitter and sarcastic and just like me if i were a book.

8. Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth, 1995
my favorite Roth book, probably because it’s kinda dirty and i’m kind of a pervert.

9. Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson, 1993
if you don’t know how i feel about this one, you must be new.

10. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill, 2000
it surprises me that i can’t find anything i’ve written about this book. the lonely tale of the minotaur (coincidentally, a nickname of mine in college because i hated the smell of minotaur cologne) broke my heart.

11. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, 1992
while not filled with the poetic language of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, ‘Bastard’ to me is the white girl’s answer to Morrison’s book.

ok, that sucked. i am sure there about 19 other books that i will wished i had included as soon as this is posted. i didn’t even do non-fiction or short stories! ok, Kelly it’s your turn now.

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  1. dietcokegurl 11.Jul.05 at 12:10 pm

    Yay!! And here’s the crazy thing…I haven’t read a single one of them. I’ve seen Simon Birch but that’s the closest I’ve ever come to Owen Meany.

    Geez. Looks like I’ve got some reading to do. Hm.

    Okay, I’ll have my list up soon–and yeah, novels are cool; I think that’s what I was thinking even though I was so non-specific.

  2. Kristy 11.Jul.05 at 1:04 pm

    I love lists by people who actually read the books they recommend. I love ’em almost as much as I love the new Paul poster I got this week.

    Tod Goldberg has a list I gush over yearly. I wrote about it on my diary once. Everything he’s ever recommended on these lists…has been good. Every thing. That is just rare in my world. So “you said nice things with your list…so I will share my favorite lists…”



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