Your favorite author

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keaggy220
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Your favorite author

Post by keaggy220 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:31 pm

I know we all share a love of good music, but I'm curious to find out if you enjoy good books as well. I don't read nearly as much as I would like, but when I do, it's usually a classic. My favorite author is John Steinbeck. There's some irony in this because I am a conservative, free trade loving capitalist, and Steinbeck - well, he likes to point out the weakness of capitalism sometimes... I'd like to tell you what my favorite Steinbeck novel is, but it would be like me trying to pick a favorite LvB symphony - difficult. If I were pressured for an answer I would probably say "East of Eden."

My favorite modern day novel is Marathon Man (William Goldman) - great suspense...

I read mostly non-fiction, but I'm mostly interested in your fictional favorites - well, I don't care - post what you want...

I'm curious to hear from the rest of you.
Last edited by keaggy220 on Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

jbuck919
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Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:53 pm

You'd think this topic would have been broached in my time here but I can't recall that it has.

You haven't set any parameters, and I don't want to re-focus the thread for you, but I doubt that I am the only person here who if it were completely open-ended would simply say Shakesepeare. So let's assume that like Desert Island Disks you give everybody Shakespeare and the Bible (with all its authors). Then you have the issue of ancient classic, pre-modern classic, modern classic, or not yet classic but might be (or it doesn't matter if it won't be). Not to mention genres, even if we limit the categorization broadly to drama, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

In case anybody did not notice, this is a lot harder than favorite composer.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by BWV 1080 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 9:20 pm

My favorite at the moment is probably William T Vollmann, having read Europe Central, The Ice Shirt and The Atlas. I would compare him closest to Pynchon in his sprawl and command of detail, but has a more sober realism in his writing.

Cormac McCarthy, my other current favorite, is probably the greatest living writer of English prose.

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Post by Barry » Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:42 pm

I'm like Corlyss in that I read solely non-fiction.
Robert D. Kaplan is my current favorite. He occassionally writes about places like Iraq and Afghanistan, but more frequently embeds himself either among the population or our military in below-the-surface hot spots around the globe and reports on what he finds. He's currently in the middle of a series on the U.S. military's operations in these various hot spots, often with nothing more than a few special forces and serving a one-year post as a guest instructor at the Naval Academy.
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Post by Ralph » Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:51 pm

I read a great deal of nonfiction but also occasional novels and mysteries that I devour like a can of Diet Coke. No particularly favorite nonfiction authors because I read so much.

Yes, I still read Shakespeare. Peter Robinson has a mystery series that really rise to the level of fine fiction. I'd recommend them to all. Marcia Muller wrote a number of superb mysteries about female private detective Sharon McCone. Unfortunately her latest efforts have very strained story lines.

For our classical music lovers I recommend Norman Lebrecht's "The Song of Names," his first novel which is intriguing almost to the end. Worth reading.

I also loved the works of both Issac Bashevis Singer and on a more somber note, Elie Wiesel.
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keaggy220
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Post by keaggy220 » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:06 am

jbuck919 wrote:You'd think this topic would have been broached in my time here but I can't recall that it has.

You haven't set any parameters, and I don't want to re-focus the thread for you, but I doubt that I am the only person here who if it were completely open-ended would simply say Shakesepeare. So let's assume that like Desert Island Disks you give everybody Shakespeare and the Bible (with all its authors). Then you have the issue of ancient classic, pre-modern classic, modern classic, or not yet classic but might be (or it doesn't matter if it won't be). Not to mention genres, even if we limit the categorization broadly to drama, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

In case anybody did not notice, this is a lot harder than favorite composer.
I was thinking about setting the parameters to fiction from 19th century to the present, but I've found that the forum members have a great deal of knowledge on many subjects and I didn't want to limit anyone. Also, men (the few men that read) usually read a great deal of nonfiction and they would have much to offer here...

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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:38 am

Charles Dickens is my favorite author. My most profound experiences of art in any form, including music, have been reading some of his novels and seeing a couple of good performances of Shakespeare.

Nineteenth century novels make up a great deal of my reading. Thackeray stands out for me after Dickens and I expect to read all of his works eventually. I read Trollope, Austen, the Brontes, Stevenson, etc. Not long ago, I read my first book by George Meredith and plan to read more. I think if I read more Balzac (in translation) he will likely become a favorite author; like Dickens he appears to possess unlimited creative power.

I count Sir Walter Scott as a favorite author. I can understand why hardly anyone reads him anymore. His writing style is quite dated and can sometimes be turgid and rambling. The Scots dialect that some of the minor character’s speak can be difficult to make out. But Scott’s novels are full of scenes and characters that have stayed in my mind over the years and I will continue to enjoy him. Reading “Waverley” by a fireside in winter is a very happy memory.

I think J.B. Priestley got it right about Scott: “…too little has been made, as breadth and sanity and a certain generosity of temperament have themselves gone out of fashion, of his genuinely rare massive virtues, his feeling for character in all but its most subtle and tormented aspects, his command of a wide scene in almost any period, his ability to present a great action in all its greatness, his masculine breadth and sweep and generous force.”

Mark Twain is a writer I always come back to.

Sinclair Lewis has become a top favorite in recent years. It puzzles me that writers such Hemingway and Faulkner are esteemed above him. Did they ever write anything as good as “Babbitt” I wonder?

I like F. Scott Fitzgerald very much and will probably have read all of his works before too long.

A writer who I came across in the last couple of years is John P. Marquand. His novels are out of print, I believe. He is not quite a great writer but he is highly interesting and original. I know some critics have been arguing for his rediscovery and that he deserves a level of esteem that he never got in his lifetime although he was widely read.

Greatest American novel of the 20th century you’ve never heard of: “The Eighth Day” by Thornton Wilder. I don’t think it is even in print. His “Theophilus North” is a delight. I never cared much for “Our Town.”

“The Magic Mountain” by Thomas Mann is one of the best works of fiction I’ve read but I haven’t tried anything else by this author. Hermann Hesse is interesting. Anthony Powell and Evelyn Waugh are sharp and funny.

Robertson Davies is one of my great favorites. I’ve read all of his novels and many essays and addresses. I bet I reread then all too, eventually. He had a magnificent imagination and penetrating insight.

As a teenager, Tolkien was a favorite. I’d like to reread him but I’m afraid I won’t like him now and this would spoil a good memory. I’ll bit the bullet and try someday anyway. Tolkien’s colleague C.S. Lewis continues to be a provocative and interesting writer, however, who I still read and admire.

Robert Frost is my favorite poet.

Shakespeare tops the list of dramatists. I’ve read most of them and seen several. I’ve read or seen much of Ibsen’s work and it always moves me deeply. I’m inclined to go see anything by Moliere, O’Neill, Shaw, and the late August Wilson. I love the comedies by Goldsmith and Sheridan and the Restoration dramatists who came before them. I think Neil Simon wrote some fine stuff.

I also read some history and popular science. Just now I’m reading “The Conspiracy of Pontiac” by Francis Parkman.

Like Ralph I enjoy mystery fiction. Dorothy Sayers, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Buchan and George Simenon are among my all-time favorites but there are plenty of good writers around today working in this genre. More often than not, I now listen to mysteries in audio book form while driving.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

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Post by Sapphire » Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:21 pm

Charles Dickens. And the best novel is David Copperfield.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Sun Feb 11, 2007 4:15 pm

Been a book-junkie all my life. In no particular order (as I think of them) and sorry for those I've forgotten,

Homer
Plato
Pindar
Demosthenes
Virgil
Ovid
Seneca
St Gregory the Theologian
St Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite (gotta love a name like that!)
St Maximus the Confessor
St Catherine of Siena
St John of the Cross
Mechtild of Magdeburg
Shakespeare
Marlowe
Johnson
Keats
Byron
Coleridge
Alexander Dumas
John Henry Newman
Hermann Melville
Joseph Conrad
George Macdonald
William Faulkner
Virginia Wolfe
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Adrienne von Speyr

keaggy220
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Post by keaggy220 » Sun Feb 11, 2007 6:46 pm

I'll add Victor Hugo to the list. Les Misérables is so powerful in certain passages that I began to wonder if the author was limited to the same 26 letters as the rest of us mortals. However, I would recommend the abridged version as Mr. Hugo goes on and on in certain sections of the book without moving the story forward - seemingly just to show off his brilliance.
Last edited by keaggy220 on Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by burnitdown » Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:04 pm

Conrad
Faulkner
Celinne
Burroughs
Hamsun
Sophocles
Hemingway
Wolfe
Chandler
Shelley

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Post by Gary » Mon Feb 12, 2007 3:15 pm

Tolstoy. Love his, er...War--What Is It Good For?

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Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:02 pm

Gary wrote:Tolstoy. Love his, er...War--What Is It Good For?
Did you know that War and Peace was originally going to be titled All's Well That Ends Well? (seriously)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Gary » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:07 pm

Yes, I've heard that before.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:32 pm

Barry Z wrote:Robert D. Kaplan is my current favorite.
Mine too for astute commentary on strategic American interests.

Jerome K. Jerome and H.V. Morton complete my triumvirate.
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Post by Madame » Fri Feb 16, 2007 6:16 pm

I'm "falling in love" with Bill Bryson's writing, so refreshing and straight forward.

How does one choose a favorite author -- Steinbeck's "East of Eden", Mark Twain's "Adam and Eve Diaries", Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities", Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" -- I have to start with the book, I guess.

I read everything by Pearl Buck I could get my hands on, but "The Good Earth" trilogy is still my favorite.

I've not made a dent ...

keaggy220
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Fun trivia

Post by keaggy220 » Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:06 pm

Can anyone name he best-selling author post Shakespeare?

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Re: Fun trivia

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:44 pm

keaggy220 wrote:Can anyone name he best-selling author post Shakespeare?
Whoever it is, I imagine that he or she (Stephen King? J.K. Rowling?) long ago outsold Shakespeare.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Fun trivia

Post by keaggy220 » Sun Feb 18, 2007 7:47 am

jbuck919 wrote:
keaggy220 wrote:Can anyone name he best-selling author post Shakespeare?
Whoever it is, I imagine that he or she (Stephen King? J.K. Rowling?) long ago outsold Shakespeare.
I thought this was rather surprising, but it's Agatha Christie. I think the article I was reading probably included all of the academic sales of Shakespeare so the writers of the article noted him as the best-selling author of all-time.

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Post by Philoctetes » Sun Feb 18, 2007 1:54 pm

Cela (Mrs. Caldwell Speaks to Her Son): I love how he deals with the taboo while mixing in some brilliant word play. A mix of Beckett, Ionesco, Svevo, and Joyce, but far funnier. I've not laughed so hard while reading a book as I do with his.

Beckett (Watt, Endgame, Everything): I just love the absudness of his conceptions. The surreality of reality. The sun that refused to rise. I also find it very funny, and overall I would say his writing style is the one that I would say suits me the best. I can read his writing just for the style alone.

Joyce: (Ulysses, Finnegans Wake): Massive confoundations that are irresistable. I always leave his texts out of breath. Funny as all get out as well.

Proust (Rememberance of Things Past): I love the cohesiveness of this sprawling mass of life. Language has never been used more beautifully, and this is in translation. I can only imagine how it reads in French. It most be breathtaking.

Svevo (As a Man Grows Older, Confessions of Zeno): The most psychological novels I've come across. A constant analysis is always being presented usually in a comical fashion.

Compton-Burnett (Manservant and Maidservant): I just love the bite to all of her writing. The way she states thing so matter-of-factly. She always leaves me grinning.

Far to many to name. So I chose a stopping point at this point. Also, you can see a theme in the authors I enjoy the most.
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The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving the church."
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:46 pm

Philoctetes wrote:Compton-Burnett (Manservant and Maidservant): I just love the bite to all of her writing. The way she states thing so matter-of-factly. She always leaves me grinning.
You share this taste with a distinguished ex-poster who left the board some time ago.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:23 pm

Philoctetes wrote:Proust (Rememberance of Things Past): I love the cohesiveness of this sprawling mass of life. Language has never been used more beautifully, and this is in translation. I can only imagine how it reads in French. It most be breathtaking.
I've been intending to read this and even bought a used edition, but its massive length is intimidating, especially as I am a slow reader. Still, I expect that once I take that first plunge all will go well after that. It took me years to get up the nerve to read War and Peace too.
"The law isn't justice. It's a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be." - Raymond Chandler

Philoctetes
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Post by Philoctetes » Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:40 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Philoctetes wrote:Compton-Burnett (Manservant and Maidservant): I just love the bite to all of her writing. The way she states thing so matter-of-factly. She always leaves me grinning.
You share this taste with a distinguished ex-poster who left the board some time ago.
Said poster is the one who suggested that author to me.
8)
"And the wife looks at her husband one night at a party, and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving the church."
Bly

Philoctetes
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Post by Philoctetes » Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:42 pm

Haydnseek wrote:
Philoctetes wrote:Proust (Rememberance of Things Past): I love the cohesiveness of this sprawling mass of life. Language has never been used more beautifully, and this is in translation. I can only imagine how it reads in French. It most be breathtaking.
I've been intending to read this and even bought a used edition, but its massive length is intimidating, especially as I am a slow reader. Still, I expect that once I take that first plunge all will go well after that. It took me years to get up the nerve to read War and Peace too.
Well I find with Proust, as well as with Tolstoy, that they are rather "quick" read once you start. Mainly because their style of writing is so interesting that it enraptures.

I can read Tolstoy faster than I can read Melville.

:D
"And the wife looks at her husband one night at a party, and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving the church."
Bly

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Post by Haydnseek » Sun Feb 18, 2007 7:14 pm

Philoctetes wrote:Well I find with Proust, as well as with Tolstoy, that they are rather "quick" read once you start. Mainly because their style of writing is so interesting that it enraptures.

I can read Tolstoy faster than I can read Melville.

:D
War and Peace keeps moving like a great river. I think this is partly due to the fact that you care about the characters so much; you want to know what will happen to them.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Feb 18, 2007 8:17 pm

jbuck919 wrote:You share this taste with a distinguished ex-poster who left the board some time ago.
Which we could entice him back, too. :? :( Can't think he'd consider returning since we kicked out his boon companion not once but twice.
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Authors

Post by Daisy » Sun Feb 18, 2007 8:24 pm

There are lots of great authors out there, and there are quite a few I enjoy, but my favorite has got to be Tolkien.
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Philoctetes
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Post by Philoctetes » Sun Feb 18, 2007 11:03 pm

Haydnseek wrote:
Philoctetes wrote:Well I find with Proust, as well as with Tolstoy, that they are rather "quick" read once you start. Mainly because their style of writing is so interesting that it enraptures.

I can read Tolstoy faster than I can read Melville.

:D
War and Peace keeps moving like a great river. I think this is partly due to the fact that you care about the characters so much; you want to know what will happen to them.
Exactly. 8)
"And the wife looks at her husband one night at a party, and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls leaving the church."
Bly

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