November 15, 2017
Most of my fiction reading has been divided between science fiction and classics, like War and Peace, David Copperfield, The Brothers Karamazov, A Farewell To Arms (which is my all-time favorite title), "A Christmas Carol," Moby Dick, Gulliver's Travels, Frankenstein, Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Dracula, Brave New World, 1984, USA, Lucky Jim, and Catch 22.
I'll confess I wasn't won over by Moby Dick, but Catch 22 and Lucky Jim are two of the funniest novels I've ever seen. The others have all been unforgettable. USA is a trilogy by John DosPassos, The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money, which provides a riveting portrait of US culture during the first thirty years of the twentieth century. I owe a special note of recognition to DosPassos, whose techniques inspired some of my own efforts. A number of readers have asked about the newspaper headlines, editorials, diary entries, and additional material that frequently show up in the Academy novels, creating (I hope) a living world behind the immediate narrative. Those were his techniques, which I found irresistible.
I've never been a reader of mystery stories other than Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown. But recently I decided to try Raymond Chandler, who created Philip Marlowe, the original hardboiled private eye. I started with Farewell, My Lovely, which I didn't really expect to enjoy. But I recommend it with enthusiasm. Next up will be The Big Sleep.
I've heard people say that they started Chandler or Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade) and found the books impossible to put down. Not sure yet, but I may be on my way.