Saturday, October 25, 2008

New List

Time Magazine Top Hundred, 1923- 2005... this list is interesting because it starts around the point where I think of 20th century literature as really getting 20th century-like. Virginia Woolf's 'Night and Day', for example... already experimental but doesn't feel modern, unlike 'To The Lighthouse', a book I hate but which is indubitably modern as well as modernist. Some of these books are crap, and they've made the elementary mistake of putting children's literature on the list, which is never going to satisfy anyone. Agreed, 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' is a better book than half of these, but a.) there are different criteria for reading/judging a child's book, and b.) maybe if you haven't read C S Lewis by the time you're reading Time Magazine it's getting a bit too late?

I have a whole collection of these lists now, some better than others. The Waterstone's one includes cookbooks, which is incredibly annoying. This one is good because it's in alphabetical order- when they try to rank them they always put the most daunting at the top, usually either Joyce's 'Ulysses' or Danté's 'Divine Comedy', for no real reason except its weighty reputation.

I don't try to read everything on the lists but they always bring books to my attention which someone, somewhere thinks of as the best book ever- and I haven't read it; keeps me busy, and gives me even more stuff to buywithoneclick.

1 - Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

2 - A Death in the Family, James Agee

3 - Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis

4 - Money, Martin Amis

5 - The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

6 - Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin

7 - The Sot-Weed Factor,John Barth.

8 - The Adventures of Augie March, Saul Bellow

9 - Herzog, Saul Bellow

10 - The Sheltering Sky, Paul Bowles

11 - The Death of the Heart, Elizabeth Bowen

12 - Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Judy Blume

13 - A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

14 - Naked Lunch, William Burroughs

15 - Possession, A S Byatt

16 - Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather

17 - The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler

18 - Falconer, John Cheever

19 - White Noise, Don DeLillo

20 - Ubik, Philip K Dick

21 - Deliverance, James Dickey

22 - Play It As It Lays, Joan Didion

23 - Ragtime, E L Doctorow

24 - An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser

25 - Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

26 - Light in August, William Faulkner

27 - The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

28 - The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

29 - The Sportswriter, Richard Ford

30 - A Passage to India, E M Forster

31 - The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles

32 - The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen

33 - The Recognitions, William Gaddis

34 - Neuromancer, William Gibson

35 - Lord Of The Flies, William Golding

36 - I, Claudius, Robert Graves

37 - Loving, Henry Green

38 - The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene

39 - The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

40 - Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett

41 - Catch-22, Joseph Heller

42 - The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

43 - Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

44 - The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood

45 - Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

46 - On The Road, Jack Kerouac

47 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey

48 - The Painted Bird, Jerzy Kosinski

49 - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre

50 - To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

51 - The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

52 - The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C S Lewis

53 - Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

54 - The Assistant, Bernard Malamud

55 - Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy

56 - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

57 - Atonement, Ian McEwan

58 - Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller

59 - Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

60 - Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

61 - Beloved, Toni Morrison

62 - Under the Net, Iris Murdoch

63 - Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov

64 - Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov

65 - A House for Mr Biswas, V S Naipaul

66 - At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien

67 - Appointment in Samarra, John O'Hara

68 - Animal Farm, George Orwell

69 - 1984, George Orwell

70 - The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

71 - A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell

72 - Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon

73 - The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

74 - Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys

75 - Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson

76 - Call It Sleep, Henry Roth

77 - American Pastoral, Philip Roth

78 - Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth

79 - Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

80 - The Catcher In The Rye, J D Salinger

81 - White Teeth, Zadie Smith

82 - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

83 - The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead

84 - The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

85 - Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

86 - Dog Soldiers, Robert Stone

87 - The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron

88 - The Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien

89 - Rabbit, Run, John Updike

90 - Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

91 - Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

92 - All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

93 - Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

94 - A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh

95 - The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West

96 - The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

97 - Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf.

98 - To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

99 - Native Son, Richard Wright

100 - Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

(the blue authors mean I've read other books by them)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuff that makes me dig my fingernails into my palms because I'm so fucking angry

French Milk They INVENTED pasteurisation! Meanwhile, we were working out how to make a decent cup of tea. I don’t care if I get Cowpox or whatever, they can keep their new-fangled science, it tastes funny. People who are sorry that a fascist is dead Either express your deep emotion at every single person who dies ever, every time one of them does die, which should keep you busy and therefore out of my way, or don’t feel sorry that Holocaust deniers die. Spend that ‘sorry time’ thinking about Holocaust victims instead. Find Your Ideal date in Orleans websites They pop up all over the place, don’t they? You’re just doing some academic research [like streaming Scrubs] and the screen is suddenly filled with pictures of girls, 22, Orleans. But they’re always the same girls. So clearly the sites don’t work, or such pretty girls with such flamboyant cleavages would find their Prince Charming and take down their photos. Weird. The verb ‘PMS-ing’ OK, so PMS never had a chance. You come up with scientific proof that aggressive or depressive behaviour in women is linked to a bodily function that only their half of the species experience and clearly there’s going to be some abuse. Some people don’t believe in it, some people describe themselves as suffering particularly badly from it, I personally couldn’t care less one way or the other. Sorry to give offence to ‘sufferers’, suffer away if it makes you feel better, but we’re all full of hormones, we all act weird sometimes, maybe you should adjust your work/life balance, or your being-a-wanker/life balance. If all else fails, every seven months ‘Company’ magazine publishes an article called ‘Men get PMS too’, which will cheer you up if your IQ is the same as the number of days in your menstrual cycle. Periods suck because often you forget and get blood on your pale pink silk pants, the new ones that weren’t from Primark, and because they’re a reminder of your own explosive fertility, a reminder which tends to put me off not just sex but also leaving the house. But hormones suck in the same way that your spinal column sucks- sometimes it plays up and sometimes when you’ve had a long day it really hurts, but what you gonna do? You need that backbone! So if you want to think that you’re being a shit because of the way your reproductive system work, that’s fine, I’m a shit because aliens control me. But YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PROGRAMMED BY SCIENCE TO BE A SHIT EVERY MONTH FOR THREE DAYS. [I have, but that’s for research purposes, for the planet Rrfvhu.] You may FEEL like shit, that may not be your choice. But you do not have to ACT like shit. [Luckily for my conscience, those cheeky Rrfvhu guys also control my muscular movements, including speech and blogging. And my conscience too, come to think of it] You should in fact REMAIN A GOOD PERSON. [No one knows what this is any more. If in doubt ask me.] So should everybody. Don’t let the hormones win! Something is going on here, of course. I don’t like randomly attacking people who are already worried they’re undergoing bloating and mood-swings. I just have to, because of this fucking verb that’s been harshing my mellow recently. Because it’s an attack on my freedom as a woman. WOMEN ARE IN CONTROL OF THEIR ACTIONS. It’s a seditious, sneaky way of telling us we don’t know what we’re doing, just like ‘education makes women’s brains overheat,’ or ‘showing your hair will make you sexually irresistible to men,’ classic methods to fucking keep us in our place. And I’m specially cross because on the same day I saw a woman in a Hollywood romantic-comedy (classic testing ground for all sexist brainwashing due to shortly be released to the masses) a woman explaining her unreasonable behaviour with that fucking verb-
“I’m sorry, but I’m PMS-ing at the moment,”
and then a woman I KNOW asked ME if I was feeling “hormonal” , a dirty euphemism for a filthy, filthy word. (Luckily for her I set her straight.) If anyone ever asks you if you’re PMS-ing, feel free to punch him or her in the face, but please make sure you explain afterwards that you chose to do it of your own free will and were not forced to by either little green men or hormones. (Or me.) Credit Crunch namedropping As in October’s Cosmopolitan
In the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever to know you’re spending money on beauty products that work!
Sorry, been reading too much Cosmo recently. Joe The Plumber He’s the reason people outside America don’t like Americans. He’s the kind of voter that makes you stop believing in democracy. He’s the guy who needs to have a tax-break- not so he can feed his family or take a holiday to the Grand Canyon despite the Whatever Crunch, but so that he can buy his business (why?) hire a bunch of Mexicans [who probably haven’t or can’t register to vote anyway so don’t count] to do the crappy work for minimum (why?) and ‘plough the profits back into the economy’ (can’t understand this either, since the economy is bankrupt and the argument is for a tax-break). And on top of all this, he’s a total smokescreen invented purely to mask a crooked decision to protect the super-rich. And he loves this role- that’s the American Dream, buddy! Sorry, been watching too many Presidential Candidate Debates recently too. Should have stuck to Cosmo. People who feel sorry for me Fuck off. Being of an age where I have spots and wrinkles at the same time OK, if you must feel sorry for me, make it for that. My keyboard The G and H keys stopped working. I asked a computer-savvy friend to sort it out, and he said ‘Shouldn’t be a problem, unless you spilled beer on your laptop,’ so I had to buy a new keyboard, and it’s French, and highly annoying. The Student Loans Company or Student Finance Direct, or Give Us Your Spare Kidney, or whatever they’re called these days. I have a lot of reasons, but at the moment the main one is that all the people on their ‘help’-line are Scottish. So they don’t pay fees. So they’re sitting up there in their loch-side call centre, looking out onto the glen, thinking ‘Och aye, Frances Grahl is tekkin oot a £3000 fees loan! Puir wee Sassenach!’ or something of that ilk, and then smirking. (Excuse racial stereotyping but I am now taking an extra credit course on Scottish Identity, so, you’re wrong.) Liking at the moment- Autumn leaves, carrottes rapées, telling people that Tours belonged to the English in the 12th century

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


1. Pulp, 'Razzmatazz' 2. Leonard Cohen, 'Ain't No Cure For Love' 3. Tchaikovsky, 'Marche Slave' 4. Bonnie Tyler, 'Holding Out For A Hero' 5. Tammy Wynette, almost certainly ''Til I Can Make It On My Own' but I am very tempted by 'I Still Believe In Fairy-Tales' and ''Til I Get It Right'... my door to love/ has opened out/ more times than in,/ but I'm either fool/ or wise enough/ to open it again... perfect country lyrics. 6. George Michael 'Careless Whisper' 7. Kris Kristofferson 'Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)' Do I only get seven? Damn! I well wanted both Justin Timberlake AND Julie London's 'Cry Me A River' And Blur's 'Star-Shaped' and Nina Simone's 'Don't Smoke In Bed' and and and... no, my decision is made, let's see if I stick to it when I'm actually on the show. Book- 'A Tale of Two Cities' Luxury- coffee, and since I could have a luxury I couldn't afford in real life, one of those espresso machines, I would be very eco-friendly on my desert island so I could push the boat out and get one of those sick ones with little foil cartridges. You could ask for an ipod, couldn't you, that would take all the fun out of it. If I could only take one it would be the Kris Kristofferson song. It's already probably my favourite song, but it also means that if my grandmother visited, I could play it to her. Check out who you would like to be stuck with... I wouldn't mind Quentin Blake. And if YOU could only take one?