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And The Next Five Novels Will Be…

I’ll be reviewing Dog Soldiers tomorrow, my 38th read from the Time list. That means it’s time to lay out the next five novels. I took the liberty to pick out the next batch this time around. But I think that, next time, I’ll open it up for you guys to pick them again.

The general thought process behind my selections is to go with a couple of novels I’m totally unfamiliar with, as well as a couple that I have at least heard of.

So here are books 39-43, in no particular order:

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter: This is Carson McCuller’s debut novel, published in 1940. It’s the story of a deaf man in a small Georgia mill town in the 1930s. This novel was an Oprah book club selection, so I’ll try and not hold that against it.

Falconer: There’s not a lot of info online about Falconer, though the book won the Pulitzer. Written by John Cheever, Falconer tells the story of a guy named Ezekiel Farragut, a college professor who is in prison for the murder of his brother.

Under The Volcano: This one looks a little wacky. It’s the story of a alcoholic British consul who is living in a small Mexican town, set during the Day of the Dead. Apparently, the guy goes on a self-destructive rampage. Another pick me up!

Wide Sargasso Sea: Many of you might find Wide Sargasso Sea interesting. Written by Jean Rhys, the novel serves as a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Since I haven’t read Jane Eyre, will I be lost?

Things Fall Apart: This classic by Chinua Achebe is the preeminent work of African fiction. The novel, published in 1958, received global acclaim. The story focuses on Okonkwo, a Nigerian wrestling champion and the leader of small Nigerian village.

Out of these five, I’m most excited about reading Things Fall Apart and Falconer, just based on the little I know about each book.

So what should I expect from the next five novels?

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26 Comments Post a comment
  1. Three out of 5 fab books _ I look forward to engaging again. I didn’t know the last five books you choose and was therefore a bit lazy about following your thoughts. BTW Under the Volcano is fabulous… volcanoes, british consuls, alcohol, surely a marvellous storytelling mix? Nicola http://aroundbritainnoplane.blogspot.com

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • Awesome. That’s the longest one of this set, so I’m glad it’s entertaining.

      Glad to have you back!

      Like

      March 13, 2012
  2. Gayle #

    I recently read “Falconer” (pulled it off my shelf because it was short and new nothing about it) and really loved it. I volunteer in a prison, and even though this is a bit dated and involves a men-only prison (I work with female inmates) it gave me some terrific insight from the inmate perspective.

    Cheever is a fantastic writer and I am very eager to read more of him.

    (Incidentally, because of you, I start “Invisible Man” tonight.)

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • I think I’m going with “Falconer” first. It seems to have a bit of a Shawshank Redemption feel to it, with the protagonist being a white collar criminal in jail for murder. Seems interesting.

      Good luck with Invisible Man. Should be getting to that one soon.

      Like

      March 13, 2012
      • Gayle #

        Didn’t you just read “Invisible Man?” Have you put it out of your head already?

        Like

        March 13, 2012
      • Gayle #

        OH, it was “Native Son?”

        Like

        March 13, 2012
      • Yep. Native Son. Invisible Man is on the list, and I actually have read it. But it was many years ago in college. So it will be a re-read. It’s a great book.

        Like

        March 13, 2012
  3. I read the Heart is a Lonely Hunter just last week. It gorgeously written – but I run hot and cold on the story. I’ll be curious about your take. Wide Sargasso Sea is a strange book. You don’t need to have read Jane Eyre, but towards the end of WSS you may want to look at Spark Notes for JE just to get the tie in. I read Things Fall Apart twice last year – the second time for a book club. It’s an easy read, and an interesting book about a primitive culture.

    Thanks for the Stephen Colbert link yesterday. That was very funny!

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • Good info. Thanks Teresa!

      I’m really excited about digging into Things Fall Apart.

      Like

      March 13, 2012
  4. McCullers is a fascinating person and her writings are tragically beautiful if only because of her fascinating story. I need to finish reading The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, but The Member of the Wedding is probably my favorite – I think because of the perspective. I was too young when I read Things Fall Apart and could not appreciate it. Hopefully you can inspire me to re-read it.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  5. No, you won’t need to read Jane Eyre first, but it helps. Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of one of the characters in Jane Eyre–the most mysterious, and tragic. But we learn almost nothing about her in Eyre, and Rhys’s goal in Wide Sargasso Sea was to give more depth to this character. It remains one of my favorite books.

    Recently finished a book of Cheever’s collected short stories. Didn’t like Cheever for quite a while–so dark about life in general in his stories, but gradually gained a tremendous respect for his understanding of American life in the post WWII era. But whether or not you enjoy the content, his prose flows beautifully; he’s a wonderful writer.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  6. Falconer sounds fascinating. Once I get some free time, I’ll have to pick it up!

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  7. Tim #

    Were you channeling Yeats “The Second Coming” with the Falconer and Things Fall Apart selections?

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold […]

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • Shem the Penman #

      Better a Falconer than a Faulkner in Robert’s book, I’ll bet.

      Shem

      Like

      March 13, 2012
    • Wow. I guess I was.

      Like

      March 13, 2012
  8. I am looking forward to the next five. The Falconer is a great read and Cheever is one of my favorite authors. I am looking forward to any obscure or interesting facts you may discover about him.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • I’m totally new to him. So as a fan of Cheever, did you know about the Seinfeld episode? That’s one of the coolest little tidbits I’ve discovered yet! I’ll be posting about it next week.

      Like

      March 13, 2012
      • I loved that episode and its reference. But I don’t know who the Cheever fan was on the show, Larry David or Jerry or both? Looking forward to your post.

        Like

        March 14, 2012
  9. I read Things Fall Apart probably three times, starting in collage for Anthropology class. I was inspired to go to Africa and do Humanitarian work. I am in the former Soviet country of the Republic of Georgia teaching English. I always have at least three books going. I am reading Thomas Mayne Reid– The Headless Horseman, which I was sure I had read years ago but now it feels like a new version of something I once dreamed about…LOL.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  10. A wonderfully eclectic selection of books which I am sure you will enjoy. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on tips either for or by writers and I’d be very interested to hear your ideas after reading Wide Sargasso Sea and Under the Volcano. Both authors were strong personalities, although both plagued also by their own demons. Rhys was almost forgotten as an author before the success of the Sargasso Sea and Lowry a tortured alcoholic. It raises the question, I feel, whether literary talent is innate (often associated with extreme patterns of behaviour) or can be taught?

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  11. I read Things Fall Apart over the summer for school. It wasn’t bad. After doing a big essay on Post Colonialism i’m waiting before i have to read anymore books of that sort but all in all not bad.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  12. I’ve read Wide Sargasso Sea without knowing that it has something to do with Jane Eyre. I did not get lost; my curiosity was even piqued to find out what happened to her in Charlotte Bronte’s novel.

    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is one of my favorite novels. It’s not about a “deaf, mute 14-year-old girl” but there is a deaf-mute (Mr. John Singer) and a girl (Mick Kelly).

    Things Fall Apart, uhm, I’m not too excited about it. It has strong themes about religion and culture, but I just don’t dig it.

    The other two, I haven’t read them yet. John Cheever is a wonderful short story writer, but I don’t know how he is as a novelist.

    🙂

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • Cool. Great info about all those books. And thanks for the correction on that one book. Must have got my facts confused.

      Like

      March 14, 2012
  13. Colleen #

    I read ‘Things Fall Apart’ straight after I read ‘The Poisonwood Bible’. They go very well together.

    Like

    March 14, 2012
  14. Wide Saragasso Sea focuses on Bertha, the insane wife of Rochester, and if it made no claims of being connected to Jane Eyre, then maybe I would have liked it better. I looked forward to seeing what she would do with the idea of taking a character that was essentially a plot device and exploring an alternate side of the story, but I’m afraid I found it a bit too gratuitously revisionist. So I’m going to differ with the previous comments and say that maybe you should read Jane Eyre at some point, otherwise it might be difficult to know what Rhys did to the character of Rochester. I don’t think you’ll be lost in terms of understanding the plot, but I think it would be difficult to understand the full context without reading the original. Since Rhys does claim to be working off of Bronte’s story, I think the two need to be considered together.

    Like

    March 18, 2012

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