Theo's Century of ... Novels?
Well, not exactly. This is still a movie site, and won't be going multimedia anytime soon. On the other hand, given that many, if not most, of my readers live in North America, it seems clear they're tuning in primarily for the writing rather than to check out what just opened at their local multiplex (apologies to readers in Tajikistan and Papua New Guinea, who no doubt are tuning in to check out what just opened at their local multiplex). So I thought it might be appreciated if I also offered a few samples of writing far superior to my own, albeit not film-related (a selection of movie writings is a possible future project, though I don't actually own too many film books and none of the ones I've read - with the exception of Phillip Lopate's recently-published "Totally, Tenderly, Tragically" - have affected me as deeply as the books featured here).
Couple of caveats before we start. I'm nowhere near as well-versed in novels as I am in films, nor do I claim to be. I like to read, and I've always got a book going, but like most people I don't read nearly as much as I should, nor do I really keep in touch with current developments. I like to think I'm fairly eclectic - the only authors I've ever given up on in the middle of a book are James Joyce and Patricia Cornwell, which pretty much sums up my range - but I've read very little experimental or avant-garde fiction, nor too many of the critically-acclaimed heavyweights. Many of the books listed here were formative experiences, read for the first time decades ago ; all of them, in one way or another, had a hand in shaping who I am.
There aren't many pre-1900 books here (none at all in the list of favourites, just a couple among the runners-up) - I read the occasional classic, but they rarely stir me, though I always admire them ; I suppose it's the kind of reaction a person who enjoys films, but isn't a film-buff per se, might have to Silent movies. About half the list is made up of American writers, which is odd given that the US doesn't have anything like the same dominance in publishing as it does in movies : I suppose there's just an energy to American writing I respond to. You'll also notice quite a few comic novels here - which is partly because I love comic writing, but mostly because they're easier to excerpt. Copyright of the various excerpts, by the way, belongs to whoever it belongs to ; all I know is, it ain't me.
Oh yeah, one more thing : seeing as I'm no expert in this field, I may well have missed quite a few masterpieces. If you have any favourite excerpt(s) from a favourite book, feel free to send me your ideas - though of course without any guarantee whatsoever that I'll be including them here (I'll give you credit if I do, naturally). All suggestions welcome, though I really wouldn't bother with the Clancys and Grishams ; they just wouldn't fit, as you'll see if you move on to the list itself.
Speaking of which ...
Other People's Favourites
Other Books I Like