Tuesday, October 25, 2005

We May Not Know Literature, But We Knows What We Don't Like

Matthew Baldwin, a journalist who also writes the wonderful blog "Defective Yeti" (linked in my sidebar), has written a piece for The Morning News, titled "Lone Star Statements." Basically, it takes Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present, and juxtaposes these classic titles with Amazon.com reader reviews. The result is hilarious, and the concept pure Matthew. A must-read, truly, if you have any fondness at all for literature.


  1. Oy Vey! Although it's hard not to disagree with some of the reviews, it sort of reeks of 'man, we're uneducated and we're proud of it' elitism. I didn't like a lot of the books on the best 100 list, but I read 75:100 of them because I think it's important to read classics as well as more modern lit. Some of the books I wouldn't consider classics, some of them I hated (Beloved comes to mind), and some I adore. Anyone that disses To Kill a Mockingbird is a jerk IMO. :-)

  2. Oh, I had serious problems with the list, just as I did their movie list. Thomas Pynchon gets TWO entries, while Faulkner gets one? And Steinbeck gets one? Please. And I never got into Chinua Achebe, but I might give it another try now that I'm older. I love Philip K. Dick stories, but "Ubik" was a new one on me. (And so far, Toni Morrison's never written a word I didn't like, my favorite being "The Bluest Eye", of course, but I haven't read her new one.) Totally agree with you on Mockingbird. ("P.S. I am against segregation." ??? WHA?)

    My favorite comment was (referring to "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest")..."Well, I guess if you're interested in crazy people, you might like this book." Who in the WORLD doesn't become totally emotionally invested in that novel?

    I also liked one, don't remember the book, where they said it was "the worst book I ever read, I only got to page 2-3." Wouldn't that make it the worst book you NEVER read?

    And speaking of books, Bella received "Moon Jumper" today, and was enthralled! *Gasped* when she saw the laughing horse, and then her name, and then a BOOK. I know it's one we'll be reading over and over--we already have! Thank The Girl and The Boy for me. I so love their names, first and last. If I was The Boy, I would be an adventurer archeologist, not the boring kind, but the Clive Cussler "Dirk Pitt" kind, with that name. For The Girl's name, gosh, that sounds like a novelist to me, or a famous artist or actress.

    Thank you so much!!!!

  3. OH MY GOD!!! This list is hysterical.

    You like Faulkner? Read the short story, "A Rose for Emily." It is pretty good Halloween reading.

    I grew up in Oxford, MS, and get this...Faulkner wasn't on the required reading list. I didn't read him until I was in college.

  4. That. Is. Not. Possible. My dream education would have been at Ole Miss, at the Center for Southern Culture. At a dog show in Jackson, once, I got to drive by Eudora Welty's house, and became very nearly apoplectic. Then my hostess said, "Yay-us, lots of times you'll see her out puttering in her garden..." I nearly passed out.

  5. I met Eudora Welty when I was a freshman at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus MS. She was attending their version of "homecoming," and I saw her walking by herself to one of the events for alumni. She stopped me to ask for directions, so I got to talk to her for a few minutes. She was very nice.

    I also knew WF's grandchildren, BTW. Played with them when I was in elementary school and jr. high. I never knew who they were until I got older. Funny, huh?

    You would love the book on my living room coffee table, "The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture," 1656 pages edited by the crew at the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture. It is an awesome reference guide about everything "South."

    Of course, I prefer "The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love" by Jill Conner Brown. (Or the 3 books that followed it.) Try that if you want to laugh until you pee your pants.

  6. Glad that Bella loved the book. It just seemed so perfect for her. Thanks for the compliments on the kid's names. They are named for my grandfather George, and according to Jewish tradition you name your children for dearly departed relatives. So Boy has a G name, but my grandfather's Hebrew name, and his middle name is Nathaniel after my cousin nancy. The girl is also named for my grandfather George, but her middle name Rose was my grandmother's name. Their last name is the same as my grandmother, and was given to them because it was going to die out unless someone used it for this generation, and I stepped up to the plate. I think it's beautiful too, and get a lot of compliments on their names, but the best thing is, they like them too. The Girls almost was an Isabella, but there was a last minute change of plans when a friend of mine took the name a month before the g's were born.

  7. Girl, I PRE-ORDERED the Encycopedia of Southern Culture before it was published, so I, too, know everything from Tallulah Bankhead to Moon Pies.

    But now I can't be your friend any more because I am eat up with jealousy over your coveted literary contacts. Stop talking to me.

  8. Well, this list has prompted me to read some things I never got around to. I lked the Catch 22 review about everyone in the 60's being on weed - gonna have to read that one. AND was Grapes of Wrath really about dirt, dirt, and more dirt - gonna have to reread that one to see what I missed the first time.
    How can anyone NOT love Mockingbird?? Book and Gregory Peck movie both- hmmm - probably one of The Medicine Shoppe customers wrote that.

  9. Hmm, I just read the complete list and hate to admit my ignorance, but I haven't even heard of some of these novels.
    So, back to Rocky Horror. BTW, Tim Curry is leaving Spamalot Dec. 20. A really quick check into ticket availability for November revealed a couple of partial view, side balcony seats - oh well.