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Guest Post: Maybe Neuromancer Wasn’t So Bad After All?

Today’s post is the first guest post in the history of 101 Books. I probably won’t be putting up that many guest posts, but I thought Ross Lampert gave a nice counter-point to my view on Neuromancer. Ross is a contributor at Cochise Writers and a commenter here on 101 Books. (For a recap of how much I hated this book, here’s my review.) Now, for the other side of the story: 

Neuromancer is disturbing, disorienting, decadent, drug- and crime-laced, über-noir, and dystopian. The novel has an unsympathetic, anti-hero protagonist. It’s easy to see how someone who doesn’t read science fiction regularly—or even someone who does—would have such a hard time with Neuromancer.

But this book is not representative of 1980s science fiction, so a little science fiction history is in order to understand how Gibson’s book ended up on Time’s top-100 list and won so many awards.

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Next Up: The Sound And The Fury

It’s time for this Southern boy to dive into some Faulkner.

The Sound and The Fury is one of two Faulkner novels on the list–the second being Light in August. I read excerpts of Faulkner in college, as well as short stories he wrote, but I’ve never read an entire Faulkner novel.

The book, like all of Faulkner’s novels, is set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. This one centers on the Compsons–a family who were once Southern aristocrats but have come on hard times. The first section of the book is told from the point of view of a 33-year-old mentally handicapped man named Benji. It appears to be somewhat difficult to read and nonlinear.

Faulkner uses the stream-of-consciousness technique (hello Woolf and Joyce), so I expect this book to require a little more concentration. Let’s hope I enjoy it more than Mrs. Dalloway, though.

Here are a few quick facts about The Sound and The Fury:

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Book #26: Revolutionary Road

Have you ever wanted to reach through the pages of a book, grab a character by the neck, and verbally abuse that character with your darts of intellectual and moral wisdom?

I have.

April Wheeler might be one of the most complicated, perplexing, frustrating characters I’ve ever encountered in a novel. She’s selfish, egocentric, manipulative, lazy, cynical, hateful, and all sorts of other negative adjectives that I don’t have time to list. Her husband, Frank, is no saint. He has his share of issues—most notably, his inclination to cheat on his wife.

But Richard Yates writes these two characters in Revolutionary Road in such a way that I found myself totally pulled into the drama of Frank and April Wheeler.

The story is all about these two people—the Wheelers—as they cope with life as a young couple in the post-War 1950s, with two kids, living in the sameness of suburban America, and struggling to find meaning to their lives.

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5 Disgusting Words That Make Me Cringe

I have a friend who hates the word “moist.”

It’s true. You may ask, “Hey Robert, what does the word ‘moist’ have to do with your 101 Book project?”

Great question, to which I would answer, “Hey there. Absolutely nothing.”

But, truthfully, this blog is not just about the 101 books. It’s about reading words. Yes, I read words. Lots of words. And then I sit down and write words about the words I just read. It gets a little wordy up in here.

So, with all that in mind, I thought I’d list my 5 least favorite words today. These are the words that make me cringe, twinge, squirm and scream. Sometimes, their usage might raise the hairs on my arms.

If any of these words appear in any of the 101 books, you can count on me automatically excluding that book from the top 10 in my rankings. That’s just how I roll, to borrow a cliche’.

Curious? Here are my least favorite words.

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Revolutionary Road And The Art Of Selfish Parenting

One of the aspects of fiction I love, and one of the reasons I began to prefer fiction to nonfiction, is the emotional intelligence I gain by watching the lives of these characters and relating them to my own life.

After all, these characters and stories were written by authors who have experienced life, dealt with their own issues, and have more than likely put pen to paper to help cope and understand.

As a new parent, I’m always interested in reading about parental roles in the novels. With the exception of Atticus Finch, some of the parents in the first 25 books have been pretty below average in the old parenting skills department. Think about the Lamberts from The Corrections or the Angstroms in Rabbit, Run.

The newest crappy parents are Frank and April Wheeler in Revolutionary Road. These two are, perhaps, the most selfish individuals in the history of fiction.

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Ranking The First 25 Books

Well, it’s that time again.

Time for me to justify my nonsensical, totally arbitrary, ridiculously-easy-to-criticize rankings of the books I’ve read to this point. Lev Grossman explained why Time didn’t rank the novels in my interview with him, but I guess the football fan in me decided I had to do rankings of some sort.

So, without further needless explanation, here’s my explanation of my rankings of the books I’ve read since my last ranking update.

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Do You Like Depressing Stories?

Why do I ask such a strange question?

Well, you might know that I’m currently reading Revolutionary Road–and, if the movie is any indication, this will be one of the more depressing reads on the list to this point.

I’ve seen comments before on this blog, like “I didn’t like that book because it was too depressing.” But the more I read through the list, the more I realize that if I can qualify a book as “depressing,” that’s a good indication it’s probably a well-written, excellent novel. That simply means the author is doing his or her job, evoking strong emotions in me as the reader.

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