Friday, June 10, 2005

who writes what i like to read

After seeing this list on a blog of a friend of Jerry's, I was inspired (more or less) to put together my own list of my favorite books and authors: or, who I like to read. I think that I'm going to keep the format and talk about the authors first, and then move on to the books which were not written by one of my favorite authors. This post will just be the authors and later I'll update again with the books.


Louise Erdrich: I couldn't possibly begin this list without mentioning Louise Erdrich. Her first novel Love Medicine was on a course syllabus for American Literature when I was in college and that was the year I was ambitious and read all of the novels in the summer before class started. Good thing because we never got to this book during class and it remainds one of my favorites. From the opening scene with a woman walking out into a snow storm it has remained with me. Other novels of note include Tracks and The Last Reports on the Miracle at Little No Horse.

Alison McGhee: McGhee, like Erdrich is another Minnesotan. That fact is completely coincidental to the reality that these two authors are my favorite two authors. Another thing both Erdrich and McGhee share is that their first novels use the multiple narrator format. McGhee's debut, Rainlight, is one of those rare novels that I not only like, but fall in love with. It introduced the small town of Sterns in the Adirondack Mountains where her other novels have been set, and I've been hooked ever since.

Ann Patchett: When Bel Canto was published it became something of a sensation. I believe it was on the best sellers list and won a few awards and a couple years later I actually read it. Patchett has this gentleness to her writing but it is so persuasive that she sucks the reader in and it is only hours later that you realize you've been totally immersed in the story. The other book of Patchett's was her debut The Patron Saint of Liars, which along with having a fantastic title is an excellent graceful book.

Don DeLillo: Another author I discovered in that American Lit class. In this instance the book we were reading was his second novel (of 13) End Zone. DeLillo is a different sort of writer than the three writers listed above. He is the post modern writer. While there comes a point after reading so many of his novels that his characters all start to talk and act the same, it is what the characters are saying that is so interesting. Novels of note include White Noise, The Names, Libra, and Underworld.

Kathleen Norris: Changing styles here, Kathleen Norris not a novelist like the previous four authors, but writes non-fiction. Her books are contemplative in nature and deal with faith, having faith, what it means to have faith, and how she has come to faith. Her best two books (to me) are The Cloister Walk and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith.

Barbara Kingsolver: Best known, perhaps, for The Poisonwood Bible which was a selection on Oprah's Book Club, Kingsolver is a favorite of least with her fiction. The fiction is excellent with novels that have something of an environmental theme/bend to them but generally not heavy handed.

Philip Roth: With a career spanning decades it is only the recent work which I have read and which has captures my attention. The Human Stain, American Pastoral, and The Plot Against America are all excellent and The Human Stain especially was fantastic.

There are numerous authors of fantasy and science fiction which I will read on a drop of the hat, but I think that is for another posting.

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