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Fired from the Canon - 10 Must Read Books You Can Skip

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message 1: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (last edited Jul 17, 2009 03:25PM) (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Powell's Books linked me to the website The Second Pass which describes itself as "an exclusively online publication devoted to reviews, essays, and blog posts about books new and old. It is updated every weekday."

They have an article posted, called Fired from the Canon http://thesecondpass.com/?p=1663 , listing 10 books that everyone under the sun recommends, but that you could really go ahead and skip.

Some of them are indeed books that I've been recommended to read but haven't gotten around to (The Corrections, The Road) and some are books I've tried to read and never finished (Absalom, Absalom!, 100 Years of Solitude) and some are books I'm very happy to have read (On the Road, A Tale of Two Cities).

It's an interesting little list and there is a substantial argument given for each book, so it wasn't written flippantly.

I'm curious to know which books from the Canon you all would add to it?




message 2: by Martyn (last edited Jul 17, 2009 03:38PM) (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Interesting that DH Lawrence's The Rainbow is in there, I think it's a work of genius...true, not much happens in terms of outside narrative events...it's all about the interior emotional lives of the characters, it explores Lawrence's messed up sexual politics...his basic philosophy was a marriage can only be truly successful if the husband had total domination of the wife...so forget about ideas of love.

The opening chapter is like a Terence Malick film...seriously!



A book I'd put on that list is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

I hate this book. The fact she got paid a million dollars in advance shows how demented her publishers were or how greedy her agent was. This 700 plus pages of bullshit pretending to be a horror story...it's horrific alright.


message 3: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (last edited Jul 17, 2009 03:34PM) (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Oh good one Martyn!! I read that and it was terrible! It just dragged on and on and on and on and . . .well you get the picture.

It never climaxed either. So weird.


message 4: by Martyn (new)

Martyn | 299 comments Kerry wrote: "Oh good one Martyn!! I read that and it was terrible! It just dragged on and on and on and on and . . .well you get the picture.

It never climaxed either. So weird."


I still chide myself for having read it all.


message 5: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments Wow, but I hated that article. I disagreed with every single argument they posted. Even books I didn't care for (White Noise, The Corrections) have more merit than they suggest here. And don't get me started on the books I like ( the Road, Absalom Absalom) or Love ( 100 Years of Solitude, A Tale of Two Cities).

I'm hatin' on the haters.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Has anyone ever really made great claims for Jacob's Room? I must be out of touch with the Bloomsbury clique, because I assumed most critics of Virginia Woolf regard this novel as a transitional warm-up to her mature works. Seems like an easy target.

I hereby give every reader permission to skip the second part of Goethe's Faust.






message 7: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
Martyn wrote: The opening chapter is like a Terence Malick film...seriously!

This statement has made me absolutely want to read The Rainbow now! I've never read any D.H. Lawrence.




message 8: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Well, until 5 years ago I would not read any hyspanic-american literature. 4 years ago I would not read french realism... I guess I skip all the books in the cannon that I have not read yet...


message 9: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .you guys KNOW i'm stoked to see old faulkner on there! . . . the funny thing is, thematically AA still haunts me, it's just the execution that drove me nuts . . . the corrections was one of those books that blew me away in terms of the writing on a sentence level, but the characters weren't sympathetic enough to me to resonate-- still think it's a great book . . . at any rate, i love lists like these because they're divisive . . . tale of two cities is one of my least favorite dickens novels . . .and there are two or three JK novels i liked better than on the road . . .


message 10: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments I'm going to side firmly with Neil on this one. I would love to ask the authors of this article, "And which subversive and original work have you written lately besides this article, which supersedes all the books on this list as something that no one should ever bother reading?" I can see why they don't even put their real names on this article. I'd be ashamed if I wrote it, too.


message 11: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I think we should pick a book on the list and do a group read, just cuz. And also cuz we haven't done an organized group read in a bit.

And the fan of the book leads the discussion.


message 12: by Matt, e-monk (new)

Matt Comito | 386 comments Mod
I agree with the article's authors on white noise and the road

strongly disagree over the Dos Passos however

they seem to pick on just the admittedly annoying but only occasional imagistic device and miss most of the trilogy's strengths - and the fact is that even the imagistic bs develops a rhythm and serves a purpose in the structure of the work


message 13: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Shel wrote: "I think we should pick a book on the list and do a group read, just cuz. And also cuz we haven't done an organized group read in a bit.

And the fan of the book leads the discussion."


I'm with Shel on this. I'd love to do another group read soon!


message 14: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Well, you are in luck. Check Group Reads... I don't think Madame Bovary is on this list but we're reading it in November. :)


message 15: by Martha (new)

Martha Kate | 198 comments I'm in! When in November, all month?

"There isn't a bourgeois alive who in the ferment of youth, if only for a day or for a minute, hasn't thought himself capable of boundless passions and noble exploits. The sorriest little woman-chaser has dreamed of Oriental queens; in a corner of every notary's heart lie the moldy remains of a poet."


message 16: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Discussion starts Nov 13: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...


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