November 24, 2017

"... haunting... audacious... ingenious... brilliant... intricate... masterly... restless... fascinating new... magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic... assured... sinister and charming... stunning... fierce and unsettling... powerful..."

Modifiers that appear before the word "novel" in the NYT "100 Notable Books of 2017."

I've only read one of the novels — the "magnificently funny, sucker-punch-tragic" one.

There's a headache-inducing flashing illustration at the link, so if your brain function is anything like mine, be prepared to scroll immediately downward if you click through. Or here's an Amazon link to the book. (Please think of doing your shopping through The Althouse Amazon Portal.)

I haven't read any of the non-fiction, though I do have Hillary Clinton's "What Happened" in my Kindle and I've done some searches and blogged some snippets. If I had to pick one to read, it would be "KRAZY/George Herriman, a Life in Black and White" (only $4.99 in Kindle).

49 comments:

Henry said...

I've read zero of either.

But Grant by Chernow was already on my list to read and I just added Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White to my kindle. Herriman is one of my heroes.

Sebastian said...

"I haven't read any of the non-fiction." I started Age of Anger, but stopped: second-rate.

Plus I have now read part of Pierre Bayard, so I hesitate to start or finish books.

Yancey Ward said...

And I thought this was another blog entry about Trump!

Michael Brand said...

'Shattered', although uneven, had many insightful moments explaining the Hillary disaster. It is a far better book on the Clinton campaign than 'What Happened', which is nothing more giant excuse making.

Saint Croix said...

There's a headache-inducing flashing illustration at the link so if your brain function is anything like mine, be prepared to scroll immediately downward if you click through.

It's a what the fuck is what it is.

Are they having orgasms? Book orgasms?

Go to a library and turn into a sex robot at a strobe light disco party. I think? Is that the idea?

IgnatzEsq said...

I feel like I'm being summoned.

I would recommend actually reading Krazy Kat. But it's admittedly not that easy to do. The strip is absurdist, and the quality of reproduction is an issue. It's pretty far removed from what we think of as comics, with lots of experiments only some of which work. One of the hardest to get used to is that artwork adorning the backdrops changes from frame to frame. Bill Watterson (from Calvin & Hobbes) wrote a very good and loving description of Krazy Kat available here: http://momentofcerebus.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-few-thoughts-on-krazy-kat.html

"To the bewilderment of many readers, there are few endings in Krazy Kat that qualify as "punchlines." Instead, it's the temperament of the writing and drawing throughout the strip that is the joke. If you don't think it's funny that a strip should have an intermission drawing, or that a character would refer to his tail as a 'caudal appendage,' you're reading the wrong strip..."

glenn said...

And then it hit me. The same person who writes these makes up all those euphonious names for the drugs big pharma is selling on TV every day.

Saint Croix said...

Auster’s book is an epic bildungsroman

you made me google bildungsroman, you bastard

also apparently there are entwicklungsromans and kunstlerromans

which just goes to show you there's a German word for everything

I prefer fahrvergnugen.

Henry said...

'Shattered', although uneven, had many insightful moments explaining the Hillary disaster. It is a far better book on the Clinton campaign than 'What Happened', which is nothing more giant excuse making.

"Notable" doesn't mean "good".

IgnatzEsq said...

If you want a good starting place for Krazy Kat, I would recommend The Kat Who Walked In Beauty: The Panoramic Dailies Of 1920. Being shorter they are a bit more digestible than the longer Sunday strips, and while still bizarre, much closer to comics today.

Henry said...

Krazy Kat: The Comic Art of George Herriman is a wonderful collection. It has a good short biography of Herriman and many of the best strips.

At one point, a comics publishing house was working on reprinting all of the strips in multiple volumes, but I think the project folded and maybe the publisher too.

IgnatzEsq said...

@Henry, the complete run of Sunday Krazy Kat strips were published by Fantographic Books, and are pretty readily available. I'm unaware of any comprehensive publication of the daily strips.

Ken B said...

I pretty much gave up on contemporary “literary “ fiction long ago. Most of it is just the expression of group think prejudices.
Lots of good science and history books about, and good novels from the pre-POMO era.

Michael K said...

'Shattered', although uneven, had many insightful moments explaining the Hillary disaster.

"Clinton Cash" is probably the best on the Clinton Crime Family.

buwaya said...

I've not read any of these, and I've only heard of a couple, maybe.

The Joseph Conrad one seems interesting. I think the premise is exactly what I have thought re Conrad (that he was the first global novelist, and that the colonial moment he described so accurately and minutely was just the first edition of now. Maybe thats just vanity on my part.

Saint Croix said...

oh hey, Althouse readers can have a free download of my novel here. It's a murder mystery set in and around the abortion controversy. I imagine it will never be reviewed by the New York Times. But you never know!

Anyway it will be published in 2018, but some advance copies can be downloaded now.

Mountain Maven said...

nyt is not where I look for books to read.

Unknown said...

"Apologetic" and "groveling" should have been among those modifiers. Great literature can see the world clearly but it cannot crawl. Judging by the brief descriptions offered, the NYT's views literature as a huge circle jerk.

Tank said...

Every year I print out this list and every year there are less books that I have read or look like I may want to read. It didn't used to be that way.

wildswan said...

"Anxiety, self-consciousness and humiliation are the default inner states of the characters" is a quote from a description of one of the books. But it describes most of them. When you've read one like that you've read them all, in my opinion. But isn't it strange that books about characters whose default state is "anxiety, self-consciousness and humiliation" should be popular in New York City? which is so arrogant in its attitudes toward everywhere else? Maybe they identify with the villains as they read. Or maybe they don't want to read about about people who are pushed around but who who have an ability to criticize and retaliate. In any case, these seem to be books about 21C kind of "good poor." And such books are no preparation for Donald Trump and the Deplorable Legion - excluded by the Acela Axis of Smugness but not characterized by anxiety, self-consciousness and humiliation.

Peter said...

I won't read any novel unless the NYT promises me that it is multi-layered.

Comanche Voter said...

Out of the 100 books on the list, the only one that I am likely to read is Chernow's Grant. Not certain but I think I may have read that already--I've been doing a lot of reading about Sherman, Grant and Lincoln.

As for the rest, it's been a long time since I gave a tinker's toot about any opinion expressed or printed in the NYT.

Henry said...

@IgnatzEsq -- I googled it, and I think the series I'm talking about is this:

Krazy and Ignatz: The Komplete Kat Komics, Vol. 1, 1916

Publisher was Eclipse books/Turtle Island Foundation. It looks like they got up to 1924.

George M. Spencer said...

"Revolution Song" by Shorto is a great book, recounting the decades before and after the American Revolution. The WSJ gave it a bad review, but it's great page turner that brings to life famous and little-known people of the era.

Haven't read Chernow's new biography of US Grant, but his bio of Geo. Washington is outstanding.

Jim said...

“When you catch an adjective, kill it.”

Laslo Spatula said...

Because that is where the Good Stuff on the internet is.

I am Laslo.

buwaya said...

Laslo in the above post explains the entity known as james james.

Whether james james is an avatar of Laslo, taking on a rather different character, who knows.

Anyway, my best wishes Laslo, I hope you get better.

As for why you get fewer comments than Althouse - well, that is a problem with human nature isn't it? Humor, everyone likes it, but politics (conflict) has always been even more attractive. We are a sick lot of animals.

Henry said...

james james makes me think of Adventure Time.

Michael K said...

"Chernow's Grant. Not certain but I think I may have read that already--I've been doing a lot of reading about Sherman, Grant and Lincoln."

Grant just cane out last month, The Liddell Hart biography of Sherman is he best as it is a military history by a military historian.

There are a couple more recent Sherman bios.

This one is excellent.

THis one is also excellent but is more than a military biography.

I read a good Lincoln biography of his life as a lawyer but I can't find it right now.

Ann Althouse said...

"I would recommend actually reading Krazy Kat."

I agree (and have had a book with a big collection of the comics for years).

Big Mike said...

I haven't read any of the non-fiction, though I do have Hillary Clinton's "What Happened" in my Kindle

I’m not sure I’d include Hillary Clinton’s latest book under nonfiction.

CERDIP said...

Ha! Saved by the paywall!

chuck said...

> The Liddell Hart biography of Sherman is he best as it is a military history by a military historian.

And pushing the ideas of Liddell Hart, so it is also a window into the military thinking taking place in the 1920's after the carnage of WWI.

Michael K said...

"it is also a window into the military thinking taking place in the 1920's after the carnage of WWI."

Yes and he considered Sherman the first modern general. Chernow seems to be crediting Grant with the use of the telegraph to control armies. Liddell Hart credited Sherman and used his telegraph messages to describe his campaigns. I am early into the Grant bio so cannot tell what Chernow used as evidence.

Liddell Hart was very impressed with Sherman's use of Maneuver to avoid casualties.

Big Mike said...

Liddell Hart was very impressed with Sherman's use of Maneuver to avoid casualties.

May I take it Liddell Hart was unaware of the terrain at Kennesaw Mountain?

Michael K said...

"May I take it Liddell Hart was unaware of the terrain at Kennesaw Mountain?"

His point was that Sherman maneuvered Joe Johnston out of position when he could.

There were still a few pitched battles but they were not as frequent as they were with Grant,.

His soldiers knew and loved him. They called him "Uncle Billy." Hart quotes a group of his foragers, who called themselves "Bummers."

At one point they encountered a group of Confederate soldiers and announced "We are Uncle Bill's Bummers and you better got !"

Occasionally the Confederates caught groups of Bummers with superior force and captured and then hung them.

Sherman then retaliated harshly, as he did with snipers from civilian towns.

He would burn the town.


Michael K said...

That was "you better git!"

autocorrect,.

Big Mike said...

@Michael K, I'm aware that Sherman was a master of maneuver, but Kennesaw was absolutely not the place to change his tactics. Best ground to defend since Masada.

John Smith Smith said...

Krazy Kat is good but it has fundamental flaws, which any Krazy Kat afficionado, upon reading this, will recognize.
No cat loves any mouse. Constables, not only in this real world, but also in any well-constructed artistic sub-world, always decide to stop being constables as soon as they recognize that their fellow citizens are nothing more than unnaturally large Kats and unnaturally large Mouses. Everybody knows that. Nobody lives in the desert in black and white, the only way to live in the desert is if there is color. One brick thrown at the head of another creature is unacceptable, more than one brick, any relationship is ended. Multiple bricks is just not credible. Everybody knows that too. Allegorically, it almost works ... but it is so much effort to stay out, oneself, from the strips, to not want to jump into those inked panels and tell the Mouse, having jumped into the panel, that you, Mouse, are Wrong, again and again, and to jump into the inked panels and tell the Kat that - you do not have to live that way, beloved Kat! - and as for the constable - those of us with multiple children and dozens of grandchildren cannot expect not to have a constable such as the Krazy Kat constable think of us as a parent or a grandparent .... but we would try to make it better ... it is all too sad .....

John Smith Smith said...

For the record: one of the greatest mistakes any artist has ever been made was the mistake Schulz - among the greatest of real artists - repented for, shortly before his death: yes, had he been a better artist, the football would have been kicked, the football would have soared, as footballs do, as footballs should, through the sky, and poor Lucy (the resentful unbeloved) and poor Charlie Brown (the victim, in this our world, of a profitable and unkind spiel) would be what they were really meant to be - friends, who, together, achieved something beautiful - as the football soared through the sky.... the beautiful Midwestern sky of those autumn days that should have been remembered better .... it is all too sad that Schulz messed that up. Well, he was an artist, and we forgive artists for their mistakes, for gratitude at the beauty they gave us .... what a beautiful little world it was, for Snoopy, and for Sally, and even for poor Linus and poor Peppermint Pappy ... all long ago, of course .

Ken B said...

I would definitely assume Liddel Hart knew nothing of the terrain. He was notorious for sloppy research. I believe he wrote his history of the First World War unaware that the Germans were even involved.

Henry said...

I read a good Lincoln biography of his life as a lawyer but I can't find it right now.

One of the best books on Lincoln, U.S. history, and politics I have ever read is Prelude to Greatness: Lincoln in the 1850’s by Don E. Fehrenbacher. Fehrenbacher makes clear how Lincoln created his own political self from the shifting sands of abolitionism, temperance, no-nothingism, and Republicanism.

narciso said...

A friend on another blog, recommended that first Sherman Bio at the link.

narciso said...

The Henry James sequel might be intersti g as for the rest blech Keith koffler has a more better Bio if ban non.

narciso said...

A sort of picaresque Walter mittyesque take from some years ago, 'the secret history of costaguana, the author is someone who Conrad stole his life story for nostromo and other tales, its by a Colombian vasquez games and it reads better in translation, like in search of klingsor. His subsequent work was not that good.

narciso said...

The last reputation, is set in the pleasant day and too riven by uribe derangement syndrime.

narciso said...

Gabriel vasquez, it was the touch of magical realism and 19th century Latin American history, combined with sir.

Sarah Rolph said...

"Bitter... disastrous... devastated by global warming and war... succumbs to hitler... colonial past... global unrest... personal and political trauma... sinister... fierce and unsettling... coolly unsettling... disconnected and divided self... disturbing... dark... tormented..." That's from the fiction list. The non-fiction list is similarly skewed toward the depressing. What a crazy world view!

I read Manhattan Beach and found it very good. Nice tight writing, highly evocative, interesting historical details.

I also read The Undoing Project, which I enjoyed. Oddly, I found it much easier to understand Kahneman's ideas by reading this book (which is about him and his friend) than by reading the book he wrote to explain them. A fun book about friendship and ideas. Somewhat sad, though.

Sarah Rolph said...

They should have put this book at the top of the list. Babar!

https://www.wsj.com/articles/babar-the-elephant-takes-his-final-bow-1511560164