"I'm a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can't and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing that, only then does he take up novel writing." -William Faulkner
Whether or not he was a failed poet and short-story writer, it's undisputed that Faulkner was among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. After we'd read about your favorite poems and short stories, Red Room thought it only natural to ask bloggers to write last week about their favorite novels.
It was striking how many writers cited coming-of-age novels as their favorites. Weston Ochse writes about the ones that meant the most to him growing up, including A Catcher in the Rye and Dandelion Wine, in "All the Tennis Shoes of Our Youth." For Cheryl A. Morgan, it's Little Women, and her hopes she had for her daughter loving it as much as she does is the subject of "My Favorite Novel. The Harry Potter novels finally won over a resistant Andrew Zimmerman, while Hermann Hesse "flung the door open wide and far" for Rebbecca Hill with Demian. Two bloggers cited To Kill A Mockingbird: For Mara Buck, the beloved Scout is forever her hero, and for Abha Iyengar, the world of Harper Lee "was fiction which seemed as real as the hot sun that burned my very shoulders so far away in India all the way from America."
Three posts stood out this week:
Kathryn Stripling Byer's sense-filled appreciation of Lee Smith's novels Wildwood Flower and Fair and Tender Ladies shows how the memorable characters informed her life and art. Enjoy "Now Ivy, This is How Spring Tastes."
Robin Cook's Coma wasn't Patricia Barbee's usual cup of tea, but she ended up devouring it one night. Last year, life frighteningly followed art. Read her harrowing post, "My Favorite Novel."
First-time blogger Susan Hirsch is especially good at setting the scene for the first time she read her favorite. The line "One morning, with every window open, I lay in bed reading and rereading a single sentence from Austerlitz" could be a line from a novel which makes you want to keep turning pages. Read "Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald."
These bloggers will receive a copy of three Red Room authors' novels. In The Fiction Class, Susan Breen describes how a blocked author breaks through by mending her relationship with her mother. Alexander Chee's award-winning Edinburgh is a coming-of-age tale about a Korean-American boy growing up in Maine who "inhabits a fantasy world of spirits and heroes." And A. Manette Ansay's Good Things I Wish You is about two romances—one of them the relationship between the 19th century pianist Clara Schumann and the composer Johannes Brahms.
These entries also caught our attention this week:
- Of the bloggers who wrote some serious, straightforward reviews, we especially enjoyed Magdalena Ball's "The Whole Range of Human Desires: The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon" and Jack Deeney's "Graham Greene's The Comedians." (With Haiti on our minds, the latter was especially interesting.)
- Jessica Barksdale Inclan's memories of Ruth M. Arthur's A Candle in Her Room is a little spooky, which makes sense for a book with an evil doll that casts a spell on its protagonist. She made us want to read the book, though.
- Harrison Solow's survey ofAnita Brookner's fiction should be required reading for any true fan who has seen and strongly identified with an author's passion. Read "E Pluribus Unum."
We had two favorite sentence this week. First, we liked Robert J. Bullock's spirit when he wrote "When I finish writing a book I'm proud to say that for a little while that is my favourite novel."And of course we'd always like to agree with Glenda A. Bixler's answer to the question of her favorite novel: "The one I'm reading now!"
You can read all the My Favorite Novel blog posts here. I hope you'll choose your favorite, and leave a comment letting the blogger know why you enjoyed it. Thanks as always for blogging!
–Huntington W. Sharp, Editor, Red Room