Monday, February 2, 2009

Books produce more questions than answers, I think ....

"My mistake was in ever opening the books."

Just for the sake of argument, I have decided to name my own selections as the ten best novels of the 20th Century (plus a couple of extras). Just be thankful that I did not go for the full 100, as Random House did with its selections. Fram's list:

1. Ulysses by James Joyce (Also No.1 on Random House list.)

2. The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis (Some would call this an epic poem; not on Random House list.)

3. The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis (Not on Random House list.)

4. Giants in the Earth by O.E. Rolvaag (Not on Random House list.)

5. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (No. 3 on Random House list.)

6. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (No. 24 on Random House list.)

7. Deliverance by James Dickey (No. 42 on Random House list.)

8. An American Dream by Norman Mailer (Not on Random House list.)

9. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (No. 45 on Random House list.)

10. The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man by Thomas Mann (Not on Random House list.)

11. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (No. 70 on Random House list; I'm particularly thinking of book three, "Mountolive," from among the four.)

12. Earth Abides by George Stewart (Once a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, among other things. Not on Random House list.)

13. McTeague by Frank Norris (I'll cheat. "McTeague" was published in 1899, the 19th Century, but what's a year in the overall scheme of things? It also has a San Francisco connection. Norris lived there for a time, and died there, and is buried across the bay in Oakland. Not on Random House list.)

14. The Sea-Wolf by Jack London (Another San Francisco connection. London lived there much of his life, and it is the point of origin as the story opens. Not on Random House list.)

To each his own. Actually, I'm not at all certain about the order in which I would place the final half-dozen. Too subjective a decision. Care to argue, debate, differ? Opinions are always welcome.

The quote above which I used to begin this segment, incidentally, comes from the lips of Wolf Larsen in "The Sea-Wolf:"

"And he (Wolf Larsen's brother, Death Larsen) has never philosophized on life," I added.

"No," Wolf Larsen answered, with an indescribable air of sadness.
"And he is all the happier for leaving life alone. He is too busy living it to think about it. My mistake was in ever opening the books."

That thought has bounded about inside my mind any number of times. Books produce more questions than answers, I think.

Music Note: Currently listening to a classic rock station on the radio ....

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