All The King’s Men is said by many critics to be the greatest political novel of all time.
I don’t know about that, but it is a really freakin’ good book. And since I thought I hadn’t tackled that many true political novels as part of reading the Time list, I started wondering what else is out there.
Here’s what I found–and well, it turns out, I have read a few political novels:
Literature, like any form of art, is interpreted subjectively. That’s what makes it so fun to talk about, and that’s why blogs like this are a pleasure to write.
The problem comes, at least for this blogger, when you say you dislike a novel that everyone else likes. How dare you cross the literary gods and goddesses and express your unfavorable opinion of a classic novel? For shame.
When a novel first comes out, though, early reviewers don’t have that luxury—or that obstacle, depending on how you see it. If you’re the first reviewer of a book, you have zero bias and zero preconceived notions about it.
No one has told you whether it was amazing or whether it sucks. So, more than likely, you’re just honest. But if your honesty results in you writing the only critical review of a novel that is widely adored, well, then your review will stick out like a sore thumb.
Like these examples of early reviews of classic novels that Flavor Wire recently provided:
Mental Floss—a stellar website if you’ve never been, by the way—recently listed what some famous classic novels were almost called.
I found the list fascinating—it’s a literary “what might have been,” and it makes me wonder how the fate of these books might have changed if the original title had stuck.
1961 was quite a year for books.
In that year, Walker Percy released The Moviegoer, Joseph Heller released Catch 22, and Richard Yates released Revolutionary Road.
All three books were finalists for the 1962 National Book Award, which The Moviegoer eventually won.
Fifty years later, all three of these incredible novels celebrate their golden anniversary. Jim Santel from The Millions recently discussed how these three books—but mainly The Moviegoer—affected him.
Was Joseph Heller famous for the wrong book? (Source: MDCarchives/Wikimedia Commons)
Is an author’s best book always his most well-known book?
That’s the question John Self of The Guardian asked last week, and his opinions sparked quite a discussion in the comments of his article and on Twitter. For instance, he mentions Kurt Vonnegut, who is probably most famous for Slaughterhouse Five. But Self says Cat’s Cradle was his best work.
Self commented on several authors who have books on the Time list–including one of my current favorites, Catch 22. Speaking of…
Time to justify my rankings.
I update them after each book, but after every five novels I feel the need to explain myself—otherwise, I’d be like a college football coach voting in the coach’s poll (If you get that joke, raise your hand.) As always, you can see how I’ve ranked all 20 on My Rankings page.
So here goes my nonsensical explanations for books 16-20: