Steven Knight: Fiction (to be read someday)

Last updated: 7 December 2000

This is one of several ongoing lists of books which pique my interest after reading or hearing about them. Notes and synopses in the table below, when not direct quotations, are based on third-hand impressions from reviews and other descriptions, so don't come crying to me if they aren't accurate. I do, however, welcome amendments and corrections.

Author Notes Book Reference Notes
Alexander, Caroline   Mrs. Chippy's Last Expedition: The Remarkable Journal of Shackleton's Polar-Bound Cat (1997) NYTBR, 16 November 1997 "The long-lost journal of Sir Ernest Shackleton's feline shipmate."
Baker, Nicholson   The Everlasting Story of Nory (1998) NYTBR, 17 May 1998 Inner musings, told from a nine-year-old girl's point of view.
Banks, Russell Author of Rule of the Bone (1996?)--an inverted, updated retelling of Huckleberry Finn--which I really enjoyed and greatly impressed me. Cloudsplitter (1998) NYT, 27 April 1998 Fictionalized life of John Brown, as told by his son.
Continental Drift (19??)   Apparently considered Banks' best work.
The Sweet Hereafter (19??)   Made into a recent highly-regarded movie, script by Banks.
Buckley, Christopher and John Tierney   God is My Broker: A Monk-Tycoon Reveals the 7 1/2 Laws of Spiritual and Financial Growth (1998) NYTBR, 5 April 1998 Fictional send-up of spiritual and financial self-help gurus.
Burgess, Anthony "...easily the most interesting English writer in the last half-century." --Gore Vidal Byrne (1997) NYTBR, 30 November 1997 The life-story of a failed composer, written largely in Byronic ottava rima. Burgess's last work, completed shortly before his death in 1993.
Cahan, Abraham Journalist and novelist. The Rise of David Levinsky (1917) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed Russian Jewish immigrant rises to be "a millionaire power broker in the ever-expanding business of mass-produced women's clothing."
Carey, Peter 1988 Booker Prize winner for Oscar and Lucinda. Jack Maggs (1998) NYT, 25 May 1998: An Australian Novelist Takes Another Look at Dickens's Inimitable Convict A retelling of Great Expectations, more sympathetic to Magwitch.
Carson, Anne   Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (1998) NYTBR, 3 May 1998 A "profound love story" about Hercules' 10th labor in "language any poet would kill for."
Casey, John Former National Book Award winner, ca. 1988 The Half Life of Happiness (1998) NYTBR, 5 April 1998
NPR/ATC, 21 April 1998: interview with Noah Adams (good discussion of the merits of reading aloud)
Lawyer whose filmmaker wife begins an affair with another woman at the time he decides to run for Congress; she stays with him for the campaign.
Chesnutt, Charles W. A mulatto author writing from both sides of racial tension. The House Behind the Cedars (1900) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed "...a gifted and attractive [mulatto] brother and sister...decide to pass and establish themselves in the best class of whites South Caroline has to offer."
The Marrow of Tradition (1901) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed "...compressed epic and political thriller...characters who are constantly negotiating their positions on the racial, social and moral scale." Based on a race riot in Wilmington, NC, in 1898.
Dillard, Annie   Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (197?) I was supposed to have read this for a high school seminar, never did, and have always regretted it.  
Dooling, Richard   Brain Storm (1998) NYT, 24 April 1998 "A Mystery Asks: How Can Hate Be a Crime?" "...a superior tale, a thinking man's John Grisham thriller in which the legal issues are serious and the courtroom scenes are instructive and entetraining at the same time."
Faulkner, William   Absalom! Absalom! (19??) I was supposed to have read this for the same high school seminar, never did, and have always regretted it.  
Frederic, Harold "...a militant realist as a novelist...exacting journalist's eye and ear." The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed "...portrait of a socially appropriate, emotionally murderous marriage."
Gaddis, William   A Frolic of His Own (19??) David Ward  
Gibbon, Maureen   Swimming Sweet Arrow (2000) NYTBR, 4 June 2000 "A debut novel examines the friendship of two high school girls through their sexual exploits."
Grossmith, George   The Diary of a Nobody (1892) NYTBR, 2 July 2000 "From the time it was began to collect enthusiastic admirers. Hilaire Belloc deemed it 'one of the half-dozen immortal achievements of our time...a glory for us all.' It was a favorite of T.S. Eliot and John Betjeman. Evelyn Waugh declared it to be 'the funniest book in the world'..."
Heaney, Seamus "...arguably the finest poet now writing in English..." Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (2000) NYTBR, 27 February 2000  
Homer   Iliad (Translated by Stanley Lombardo, 1997) NYTBR 9 July 2000  
Odyssey (Translated by Stanley Lombardo, 2000) NYTBR 9 July 2000 "Lombardo ditched common literary conventions and a line-by-line faithfulness in favor of perhaps the sparest English version of the poem -- one that brings us closer to the starkness of the original."
Howells, William Dean Editor of the Atlantic Monthly; "...when he saw the respectable turning vicious and corrupt, he took it on with quiet implacability." A Modern Instance (1882) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed An ambitious young minister in upstate New York wrestles with faith and power.
Johnson, Charles National Book Award winner for Middle Passage (1990). Dreamer (1998) NYTBR, 5 April 1998 An exploration of human equality and inequality, in which a dead ringer for Martin Luther King, Jr. stands in for the man.
Jones, Gayl African-American author of note from the 1970's; The Healing is a return after a long silence. Corregidora (1970s) NYT, 2 March 1998:
News article about recent run-in with police by Jones and her partner, ending in partner's death and Jones's hospitalization, relatively soon after Jones's reapearance.
Eva's Man (197?)    
The Healing (1997?)    
Leavitt, David Rising young talent in the 1980's, suffered scandal that his previous novel While England Sleeps plagiarized the life of poet Stephen Spender. The Page Turner (1998) NYTBR, 26 April 1998 Exploration of the toll taken by art (in this book's case, music); "Portrait of the aspiring artist as a young man."
McCarry, Charles   Lucky Bastard (1998) NYTBR, 16 August 1998 A "thriller...about a pathologically libidinous man who runs for President."
McCarthy, Cormac   The Crossing (199?)   Volume 2 of The Border Trilogy
Cities of the Plain (1998) NYTBR, 17 May 1998 Volume 3 of The Border Trilogy, uniting the protagonists from the first two volumes.
Menaker, Daniel   The Treatment (1998) NYTBR, 7 June 1998 An English teacher finds himself despite (because of?) the treatment of an abrasive Freudian therapist.
Moore, Lori A professor of literature at UW-Madison. Birds of America (1998) NYTBR, 20 September 1998 Short story collection.
Morrison, Toni   Beloved (1987)    
Paradise (1997) NYTBR, 11 January 1998  
Price, Richard Novelist (Clockers) and screenwriter. Freedomland (1998) NYT, 13 May 1998
NYTBR, 7 June 1998
A racially-charged kidnapping may or may not have been invented.
Pynchon, Thomas Reclusive geniuses fascinate me. Mason and Dixon (1997)    
Phillips, David Graham The author "was murdered by a man who resented his portrayal of women as blighted by the conventions of society." Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise (1917) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed "Phillips turns melodrama into high-style emotional muckraking."
Price, Reynolds "A chronicler of decency, pluck and joy, in novel after novel he has given us the weight and worth of the ordinary." Roxanna Slade (1998) NYTBR, 12 July 1998  
Powell, Anthony   O Dance to the Music of Time NYTBR, 30 April 2000 A 12-volume novel series. "...perhaps the greatest achievement in English fiction since the war."
Powers, J. F. "He is sometimes described as a writer's writer, meaning that he was an artist too good to gratify the most casual reader, but he was also a reader's writer, if we assume a reader who thinks of fiction as intelligent art rather than low entertainment." Prince of Darkness, and Other Stories (1947) NYTBR, 26 March 2000  
The Presence of Grace (1956) NYTBR, 26 March 2000 Short-story collection.
Look How the Fish Live (1975) NYTBR, 26 March 2000 Short-story collection.
Morte D'Urban (1962) NYTBR, 26 March 2000 Novel, winner of the 1963 National Book Award.
Wheat That Springeth Green (1962) NYTBR, 26 March 2000  
Roth, Henry Roth went through sixty years of writer's block after publishing this, his first (autobiographical) novel. He finally began publishing the volumes of (the also autobiographical) Mercy of a Rude Stream in the 1990s before his death in 1995. Call It Sleep (1934)   Considered one of the finest, harshest novels about Jewish immigrant life in America.
Roth, Philip "In terms of sheer productivity, brilliance, distincly American diction, philosophical rage, comic irritability, dramatic representations of solitude, uniqueness of voice and unwavering repugnance toward heterosexual convention, it is difficult to think of a contemporary artist with whom Roth might even be compared. If one strains and reaches into another medium entirely, Stephen Sondheim comes to mind." Patrimony (1991) NYTBR, 7 May 2000 "...a magnificent memoir of his father..."
Operation Shylock (1993) NYTBR, 7 May 2000 "...intellectually exquisite..."
Sabbath's Theater (1995) NYTBR, 7 May 2000 "Roth's masterpiece of erotic and tragicomic mourning."
The Human Stain (2000) NYTBR, 7 May 2000  
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan   The Yearling (1938) NYTBR, 2 July 2000 "The No. 1 best-selling novel of 1938, a Pulitzer Price winner and admired by everyone from Fitzgerald to Margaret Mitchell to Ellen Glasgow." I'd like to reread it now instead of slogging through it in class.
Smith, Zadie   White Teeth (2000) NYTBR, 30 April 2000 "A young novelist chronicles two families who bring a patchwork of cultures to the London of the 21st century."
Tarloff, Erik   The Man Who Wrote the Book (2000) NYTBR, 14 May 2000 "...a frustrated literature professor makes it big by writing a dirty book."
Tremain, Rose   The Way I found Her (1998) NYTBR, 2 August 1998 "An English boy searches for a vanishing Russian novelist." "What impresses the accuracy with which she captures the reflections of a precocious intelligence on the cusp of adulthood."
Vidal, Gore   The Smithsonian Institution (1998) NYTBR, 1 March 1998
NYT, 19 March 1998
Speculative fantasy about T., who enters the Smithsonian to find a timeless world, where dioramas come to life, past U.S. Presidents read their contemporary biographers, and scientists labor to create time travel and new weaponry.
Yates, Richard   Revolutionary Road (1961) NYTBR, 9 April 2000 "...among readers of American fiction since the beginning of the 1960's, Revolutionary Road...has become a kind of cultish standard."
Yezierska, Anzia   Hungry Hearts (pre-1920) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed Made into a 1920 Hollywood Movie
Salome of the Tenements (1923) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed A surprising romantic comedy between "an old New York WASP and ... a first-generation American Jew." What a great title!
Bread Givers (1925) NYT, 18 January 1998: Seven Unsung Novels Crying to Be Filmed Her best-known novel; "A struggle between a father of the Old World and a daughter of the New."

Abbreviation Index:
National Public Ratio / All Things Considered
The New York Times
The New York Times Book Review
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