Re: I don't read fiction. I prefer good literary criticism.

1

If you read Catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye when you're young, they're fun.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:30 AM
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"Military people are evil and stupid" strikes me as a disastrously simplistic reading of Catch-22. If you said that the point was that people are evil and stupid, you'd be closer to the mark, but that's still the starting point for an 11th-grade term paper rather than a useful summation, I think.

The fact that the guy approving cites an Ayn Rand novel (admittedly one that I haven't read) as an example of a more subtle and compelling work is icing on the cake.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:31 AM
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And Catcher in the Rye does, in fact, suck, although I might simply have read it after the window had closed for me.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:32 AM
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I'm tickled that the thrust of your post is about whether the literary critic maligned "My Humps."

On the larger subject, it seems to me that many landmark works of literature are purported to be brilliant because of some calculus of artistic merit, but upon closer examination, it more or less boils down to some questionable combination of merit plus whatever was fashionable or relevant at the time.

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner isn't really a very good film. Catcher in the Rye probably was shocking at one point because Holden say some naughty words. Citizen Kane isn't all that interesting unless you're a student of film and of history. Most of them, it seems, serve more as a mark of being the right kind of person than anything else.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:35 AM
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1 shouldn't be considered as an instance of expressio unius, exclusio alterius. I read C22 in the first half of high school, and never since, so I'm not prepared to comment on whether Labs is merely being curmudgeonly in a bad way.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:35 AM
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Ha, in an email to baa I noted that the Rand reference was a bad sign.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:37 AM
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It's beside the point, I think, but I definitely thought Catcher was fun in high school. I still do. And I don't know if this is truly part of the high school canon, but I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in high school and enjoyed it immensely.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:37 AM
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But Citizen Kane is still a fine movie even if you aren't familiar enough with film history to appreciate the technical innovations that Toland and Welles came up with.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:38 AM
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Also, Gatsby is certainly objectively fun, isn't it? Am I all sorts of fucked up about this? It seems so clear to me, with the big parties, the aftermath of orange rinds and cigarettes laying about, the drunkenness in Manhattan, the eerie eyes of TJ Eckleberg. It's a smash of a good time!


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:39 AM
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But the Best of All Time?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:39 AM
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Is The Once and Future King part of the high school canon? That was a fun novel, as I recall.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:40 AM
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Gatsby: fun!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:40 AM
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Gatsby: madcap crazy fun! The more I think about it, the more disenchanted I get with the diss chapter on Dickens I am currently writing.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:41 AM
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No, the people who say that it's the best movie of all time* are informed by its position in the canon and the genuinely radical things that Toland+Welles did. That strikes me like saying that "Rocket 88", a perfectly fine song, is the greatest of all time because Ike Turner did crazy shit with his busted amp.

* American Ninja


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:45 AM
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Would The Corrections be part of the grad-school canon?


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:47 AM
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The more I think about it, the more disenchanted I get

Oh hai, new hovertext.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:48 AM
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Undergrad canon, I think. ANHEDONIA.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:49 AM
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I remember enjoying catch22 a lot because it was so damn funny. And i came to Catcher late, in college after reading franny & Zoey, but still thought it was great. to be fair though i age slower than most.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:50 AM
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Do most high schools teach Gardner's Grendel as a companion piece to Beowulf, or just the two I attended? Because that book was fun.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:50 AM
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Read Catch-22 in either late middle school or early high school, recall laughing a lot.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:52 AM
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YEah, i read it while working, and remember the coworkers annoyed at how much i was laughing.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:54 AM
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We read Gardner's Grendel in HS, I'm pretty sure.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:55 AM
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I remember hating with a fierce passion almost everything I was required to read in high school--which is weird, because once I start reading something I usually manage to extract some enjoyment from it. But my particular loathing was reserved for A Member of the Wedding and The Great Gatsby, both of which I still hate. I read The Catcher in the Rye on my own (it was too naughty for honors class, although the non-honors class read the very racy Prince of Tides) and thought it annoying and pretentious.

At the time, I couldn't quite put my finger on why I disliked Gatsby and the Carson McCullers novel. It wasn't that they were depressing--I was addicted to depressing fiction. I'm still not sure why I don't like those books--they seem somehow grey to me, uninteresting, totally apart from what I find moving or important or gripping about people. I also think that I don't like the way McCullers uses an excessively-naive twelve-year-old as protagonist. Something bothers me about that character. I may have to re-read the book.



Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:56 AM
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Now that I think more about it, part of the reason I disliked those books was that we were so transparently meant to take away Important Life Lessons from them, and although I am a sober-sided dirty-hippie who is always, with dreadful earnestness, finding my own Important Life Lessons, I don't like having them standardized for me by school.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:58 AM
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We didn't read Grendel. I liked Gatsby but I felt I didn't understand the world it was presenting till much, much later.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 11:59 AM
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I love that I've made Frowner reread something she hates. Better if it remains loathsome on reinspection.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:00 PM
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Do most high schools teach Gardner's Grendel as a companion piece to Beowulf, or just the two I attended?

I read that at an inappropriately early age, and still find the sight of paperbacks that look like the copy I read disturbing. Mostly, stuff I read when I was too young, I just didn't understand, but Grendel fascinated and horrified me.

On Catch 22: arguments about what's funny don't really go anywhere, but Catch 22 was very, very, funny when I read it. I find the argument in the linked post that it's a morally bad book because characters in it do unspeakably awful things without realizing their gravity bizarre; necessary to any book about war is the recognition that people are capable of doing unspeakably awful things without realizing their gravity, not because war is a special case but because people are like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:00 PM
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15: In my grad school experience, The Corrections is not yet but on its way to being part of the grad school canon. And A Million Little Pieces, to judge by my colleagues syllabi, is pretty nearly part of the undergrad canon. It's not dreary in that gray Catch 22, 1984 way, but it reads like it was written in crayon, which to my mind is worse.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:03 PM
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Am I wrong to think that The Corrections is pretty great?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:11 PM
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29: I think you're wrong, but most other credentialed types don't. I find the tone snotty, insider-y, and insufferable.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:12 PM
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Am I wrong to think that The Corrections is pretty great?

Yes.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:13 PM
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Well, in the genre of books about aging academics victimised by undergraduate vixens, it has more to be said for it than most, I suppose. Other sub-plots, for one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:15 PM
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Good people: I am sorely disappointed. I expected trenchant discussion of My Humps. A song that wonderful surely deserves better.

Towards that end, I submit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W91sqAs-_-g


Posted by: Dan | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:15 PM
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My dad read us Catch-22 when we were about 12 (me) and 11 (my brother). Loved it then and have reread it several times since, though not for about 12 years I guess. I was thinking the other day about rereading Something Happened.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:28 PM
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Ok, I now commence loathing The Correction.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:30 PM
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-s.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:32 PM
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I thought The Corrections was pretty good, if a little smug at times. I'm probably a bad person to ask about this sort of thing, though.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:35 PM
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God, The Corrections made me angry. Does he get bonus points from the gatekeepers of the canon for dissing Oprah or something?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:37 PM
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Jesus, what a bizarre post you linked to.

I haven't read c-22 since high school, but it was extremely funny and entirely cognizant of the moral horror of war. In an very artful example of that recapitulation-and-gradual-revelation of-the-same-scene technique, the penultimate chapter recounts the wounding and death of a character that takes place before the action of the book, and is a powerful, memorable, and moral consideration of the violence the war did to just one body, moreso, I'd imagine, for coming at the climax of a funny book than if it we had to wade through a sludge of self conscious Moral Seriousness.

and seriously, what? The point here seems to be that war is a bad thing. The book makes that point by depicting the people who make war as stupid and evil. It does so by presenting all the characters who are regarded as sane by the standards of the military world as doing things that are actually insane, while the one character who is actually sane is regarded by everyone else as being crazy. But why should we expect military people to be insane, stupid, and evil?

It's a satire of military bureaucracy. The point is that you expect people to behave in insane, stupid, or evil ways when you put them in a dehumanizing system. Did he read it? Next up, when this guy reads The Trial: the point seems to be that a state with limitless power is a bad thing. The book makes that point by depicting people who run the justice system as stupid and evil. But why should we expect people in the justice system to be stupid and evil?

Gah.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:40 PM
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in the genre of books about aging academics victimised by undergraduate vixens

and

most other credentialed types don't.

From which we draw the eternal lesson: know your audience. I would have thought FL was a bit young to succumb to this, though.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:43 PM
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I thought The Corrections was one of those books wheer, for each person, that person can see through the admiration it gets and recognize its crappiness or whatever, but no one else can.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:46 PM
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41: That may be true, in which case I owe Franzen some thanks. I need more books that make me feel superior. Selfless, he is.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:53 PM
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33: I expected trenchant discussion of My Humps.

Isn't that like expecting trenchant discussion of velvet Elvises? With some cultural artefacts, either you understand how tacky they are or you don't. (Morrissette clearly understands.)

39 is right.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 12:54 PM
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Are there fun novels in the High School Canon?

Hm. The most fun I remember having was with Beckett and Stoppard.

Otherwise, no, not in my experience. I could not stand Silas Marner, nor The Old Man and the Sea. And so on.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:12 PM
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I did not particularly like Catcher in the Rye but my dad loved it when he read it as a teenager. Later he learned that he had attended one of the high schools Salinger had attended years before.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:16 PM
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Maybe a question would be "what are some fun novels that could be in the high school canon?" Which requires of course some ideas about just what reading literature in high school is supposed to do.

I nominate, initially, The House of the Spirits, Wise Children (Angela Carter) and Down and Out in Paris and London.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:29 PM
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And I nominate them all in italics!

I cannot expound on the purposes of reading literature in high school because I am cooking right now, though.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:31 PM
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To me the lesson of The Great Gatsby is "If your goal is to marry the girl of your dreams and buy a nice house in a good neighborhood, you will end badly". HS kids don't get the idea though.

My parents read "The Catcher in the Rye" shortly after it came out (I have photographic evidence). But they hid or disposed of the book before I learned to read. That's one old book.

I did read the book in HS, but not for class. I was under the impression that it was popular among youth. Little did I know that it had already been superceded by the Lords of the Flies and the Rings. But when I got to college, Herman Hesse was the thing, and the Lords were passe. So I missed Tolkein and Golding. I wouldn't have liked them anyway, because of the CS Lewis Original Sin shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:32 PM
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But did you like Hesse? (Ack! Gag! Spit! Pretentious! Even when I was younger and more susceptible to pretentiousness, those seemed pretentious.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:33 PM
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The Name of the Rose would work for HS.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:40 PM
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I haven't read c-22 since high school, but

Isn't there a nearby relevant point that things that seem terribly funny and trenchant at 16 are not really so?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:43 PM
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You think? I wonder whether it would be a little dense. I read it when I was a freshman in college and loved it but missed certain things and also got a little lost in some of the long catalogues-of-stuff parts. Kids today work harder than they did when I was in high school, but I was in the honors classes and I'm not entirely convinced that if other honors students struggled then with interpreting The Great Gatsby today's average students would get through The Name of the Rose. Which is a fantastic book.

What about some Italo Calvino? That's a lot of fun. The Baron in the Trees would probably be best.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:43 PM
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51: Maybe, but I remember it well enough to know that that guy's post makes no damn sense, to the point that he seems functionally illiterate in the critical reading of fiction, so I see no reason to reevaluate the opinion I had when I was 15.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:54 PM
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Rest easy F. I didn't read Hesse, either. It was what the other kids were reading.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:54 PM
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There's a lot of stuff in The Name of the Rose which I suspect makes more sense if you know a bit of medieval Europe background beforehand. I thought it was fantastic as a reading experience, but not so much as a still thinking about it afterwards experience.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:55 PM
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Well, TNotR was a climbdown from my original idea of Foucault's Pendulum. I read it more than once in high school and, of course, loved it. The more I think about it though, Catcher in the Rye has no place being so ubiquitous: there are plenty of better books out there that require a similar level of literacy:Pride and Prejudice is fairly straightforward, for example. Conrad would be great for HS as would any Orwell (except 1984, which is properly part of the JH canon).


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:55 PM
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In my version of the HS canon, one would teach Gatsby and Lolita as the Great American Novels.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:56 PM
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Maybe the things that seemed funny and trenchant to you in high school weren't really so, Labs.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:56 PM
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49: It's easy to knock the popular Hesse novels, but c'mon, The Glass Bead Game is a haunting, creepy, non-scifi scifi novel.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 1:59 PM
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I don't remember a single goddamn novel that I read in high school.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:00 PM
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58: zing!


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:02 PM
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56: My inability to get through Foucault's Pendulum revealed to me that I don't actually like Umberto Eco's work, only TNotR. (Well, I also read a bunch of his essays before I drew this conclusion.) Dunno why. Too sophisticated for poor Frowner, maybe. Too much with teh semiotics. (Did you know that Macalester College in lovely St. Paul Minnesota has an actual Foucault's Pendulum in the basement of one of the science buildings? During my very overpriced year there, I used to sit and eat snacks and study next to it.)

I think we did read Pride and Prejudice in junior year. I liked it well enough, but I didn't really get into Jane Austen until I read Emma while I lived in Shanghai.

Honestly, I wish we'd read more literary criticism in high school. It wouldn't need to be anything super-fancy or super long or super-approved-by-graduate-English-programs-today, but we could have read some Leavis or some of that fifties guy who liked the Henry James or some Raymond Williamson. Hell, we could have read some of Orwell's essays about books (which I was actually reading at the time); they're pretty fun and they actually get you thinking a bit when you haven't read much lit crit.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:05 PM
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59: I haven't actually read The Glass Bead Game, which does sound kind of interesting. I think I read about three or four other Hesse novels, and by the time I'd read them I didn't feel like reading any more. I remember sitting in our mandatory and profoundly useless Consumer Ed class--in the front row of class!--and reading Hesse all through the whole period.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:07 PM
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62: re old school lit crit in HS - Forster's Aspects of the Novel would be wonderful in this regard. To my mind, anything that asks the reader to think about why she likes reading, and why she likes some things better than others, would be hugely beneficial.


Posted by: rache | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:07 PM
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I'd love to teach Gatsby in HS. The last class would be awesome. I'd look out at the room full of would-be Gatsbys and Daisys and Buchanans and explain to them in so many words how their lives were going to turn out. None of them would listen, but I'd have the last laugh.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:09 PM
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some ideas about just what reading literature in high school is supposed to do

It's supposed to get you to read novels that weren't written for high school kids but which are now read mostly by them, isn't it?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:09 PM
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I hated Catcher in the Rye when I was young--I think it's very definitely a boy's book--but I loved Catch-22. I think a lot of h.s. novels are dreary and unfunny because h.s. is a time of high angst. That and the fact that most adolescents, when they have a sense of humor, have a pretty broad and unwitty one.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:10 PM
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You guys too, if you're getting married and buying houses. That way lies doom.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:10 PM
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65: But would you be willing to go the final step and point out which student was doomed to be Daisy, which Tom, and which Gatsby?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:11 PM
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Although I did read P&P the summer before my senior year. That's a fun novel. I remember being really surprised and pleased at it's being (1) a good read, and (2) actually funny.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:12 PM
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Aspects of the Novel would be great, yeah.

I wonder whether one could teach semester-based classes on different themes. I felt like what we read didn't build at all; we read a bunch of Important Books and never connected them, and they didn't seem to be selected to make any kind of sense as a group.

Obviously, you could teach a semester on the Romantics, or whatever--which would have interested me, stodgy little snob that I was. But you could also do a semester of "literary" SF (Glass Bead Game, Rattner's Star, etc.) or a semester on the origins of fantasy as a genre, or a semester on genre. I bet high school kids would get that pretty well.

Or you could read a bunch of books and plays that all draw on Greek tragedy, or books narrated in the first person, or....

I think the point would be to get the kids to compare, see parallels, see differences, etc. Even--if you put together a set of books where the authors were (intentional fallacy, here we come!) responding to each other's work--influence.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:13 PM
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Oh, but what I really meant to say was that Manhattan is one of my favorite movies.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:13 PM
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Edmund Wilson's Classics and Commercials would be a decent HS introduction to literary criticism. Would that poor snooty Edmund had lived to see this hour.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:14 PM
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The English class I took fall semester senior year of high school required us to read Forster's Aspects of the Novel and take notes on it during the summer. It probably would have made for a good discussion, but as far as I can remember, the notes were never collected and the book was never discussed once classes started.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:15 PM
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65: sadly, most of them are doomed to be Nick Carraway; tragically confident of the value of moral certitude and judgment, unable to recognize their own complicity in the very system they are judging.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:16 PM
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War memoirs! People could read war memoirs! High school is a great time to encounter all those WWI poets, Goodbye To All That, etc. Dulce et decorum est--cold shivers when I was 16!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:16 PM
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Thematically organized readings, beyond the standard British/American thematic, coudl help make something more of the Important Books. The trouble is certainly rooted in the notion that somehow sheer coverage is the goal, that if one reads enough of the Important Books, one is defacto suitably imbued with the value of literature.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:20 PM
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72: Did you really mean to say that Metropolitan was one of your favorite movies?


Posted by: JGO | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:25 PM
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77: All the more so because, seriously, we read maybe ten books a year in high school English, plus some poetry and miscellaney. That's not coverage at all--it's not as if you're really churning through the Great Books. It constantly astonished me how much everyone complained about how we had to read Two! Whole! Chapters! for Wednesday, or whatever.

Of course, part of the problem is that--even then--most kids didn't read much outside of class, so reading was harder for them and they had less context for what they did read. [Typed Frowner, a self-satisfied smile on her well-read face....although, she reflected, being well-read was at least a little compensation for being weird and having no friends for most of high school. Books are better anyway, she decided.]


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:27 PM
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69: damn right I would. Boy, would I! I'd spend the whole term gathering evidence on the little shits.

75: I'm not willing to read Gatsby that way. It's apparently the standard reading now, because I've heard it before. To me Daisy and Buchanan are the center.

Even trying to avoid them, I often enough meet people who would be very happy to be a a Daisy or a Buchanan.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:29 PM
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or some of that fifties guy who liked the Henry James

All the fifties guys liked Henry James.

I cannot remember enjoying a single thing I was made to read in high school, though I don't think it was all the fault of the books. That said, I really hated Catcher in the Rye and resented having to read it. I was grateful not to be forced to read any other books that the kids were supposed to dig (c-22, anything by Vonnegut, etc.), as they all sounded awful to me. That said, my high school's apparent idea that we should be made to plough through pretty much every novel written by John Steinbeck and Thomas Hardy didn't endear the study of literature to me. Fuck Jude the insufficiently Obscure. It was a long time before I learned that if I'd been exposed to Hardy's poetry, I might not have hated him so much.

Balzac is deeply entertaining, but I doubt anyone would be able to convince high school students of that.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:49 PM
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It's been a long time since I read The Glass Bead Game but I thought it was great in a geeky teenaged way. But then I loved Catcher in the Rye too, since I read it first (about 9 I think?).

We barely read any books at school. My O level years (13-15 in my case, but generally 14-16) I'm sure we only read the books we were actually studying for the exam - which were Macbeth, Cider with Rosie, and the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. I certainly don't remember any others. And then I stopped doing any English after that.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:50 PM
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78: Yeah, that.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 2:52 PM
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80: is it the standard reading now? I hadn't heard, but I haven't really discussed it with anyone in years. I'm not saying Daisy and Tom aren't at the heart of it, but the narrator does sort of rule the book, KWIM? Even insofar as we get to know D and T, it's only because Nick does.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:14 PM
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I can't believe this thread went 71 comments before we got an encomium to Metropolitan. What a fantastic movie. Thank god they finally released it on DVD.

Really, all of you need to watch it. "The cha-cha is no more ridiculous than life itself."


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:16 PM
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Gatsby is really lovely, especially now that Daisy Buchanan is president of the United States.

Also worthwhile in the high school canon: Huckleberry Finn, people! A Tale of Two Cities, Dubliners, and To the Lighthouse, too.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:17 PM
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The title of the post was sort of a baa shout-out, since we both love Whit Stillman.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:19 PM
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I keep confusing the Corrections with William Gaddis's 1st book, which title I can't remember, and haven't read, just as I haven't read the Corrections. I have read J.R. and Catch 22.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:23 PM
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I read "The Dead" in high school and loved it; I read the rest of The Dubliners a little later and felt like I understood very little. I'm kind of glad I didn't have a teacher who taught A Tale of Two Cities, but am annoyed I never read any Dickens until college.

Did anyone else get assigned A Yellow Raft in Blue Water in high school? I got the impression it was a book favored by canon-ambivalent teachers.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:28 PM
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88 - The Recognitions, and I do that too.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:29 PM
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The Recognitions. I've also not read "Dhalgren" and "V".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:29 PM
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And after reading the Salinger short stuff...I named my cat "Seymour"...I can't help thinking there is some deep Zen meaning to Catcher in the Rye that can only be understood by have a little bald man beat you with a stick.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:31 PM
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I'd have to reread the book, but this reminds me of the argument that "The Enemy of the People" isn't only about the bad guys, but also about Dr. Stockman's self-righteousness. That strikes me as a MSM Heathers reading of Ibsen.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:33 PM
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I loved Death in Venice in h.s., but it's not exactly an "up" read.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:34 PM
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91: There's some kind of science fiction nerd joke which paraphrases along the lines of "Why is page 50 of Dhalgren like the end of the universe? Because no one's ever gotten beyond it", only funnier and I think referencing Star Trek.

I love Dhalgren but I haven't read the whole thing. I pick it up and read a hundred pages or so and then I stop, and although I read nonidentical-but-overlapping hundred pages each time, I still haven't finished it.

I have however read his pomo-theory AIDS-era Neveryona books, which no one likes except me.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:36 PM
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I think the Neveryona books are significantly better than Dhalgren, which kinda sucks. You should read V. if you liked Gravity's Rainbow, Bob. It's a very similar thing, only in a less concentrated dose.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:39 PM
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I have read all of Dhalgren and do not at all love it. I do like the Neveryona books, though!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:39 PM
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Damn you, Snark.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:40 PM
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I can't help thinking there is some deep Zen meaning to Catcher in the Rye

There isn't. But you'd think so after Franny & Zooey and all.

Emerson, you gotta read Dhalgren. It'll probably piss you off, though. Somehow I adored it the first time through, then reread it a couple of years ago and was annoyed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:40 PM
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Why don't you like Dhalgren? What's not to like? What's annoying? It's not annoying! That's not true! [hysterical sobbing] Samuel Delaney is a genius!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:47 PM
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'Scuse me, I was pausing to note that I'd been pwned.

Um. Delany is a genius. Agreed. The Neveryona books. Dhalgren is a little incoherent. Or self-indulgent. I find it alarming.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:51 PM
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Lolita is the kind of thing that makes me wonder why High Modernism ever went out of style.

What about Rabbit, Run? Say what you will of the book as a whole or of Updike as an author/person -- it contains the most devestating scene in the history of literature.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:51 PM
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92: I almost named a cat Seymour! But it would've been after Hersh. And I decided it was too much like my parents' naming theirs Izzy.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:54 PM
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96:Read and loved V..Just frigging loved it.
Does anybody else giggle under the influence of trangressive unspeakable horror? For me, the Africa and Parisian episodes hit harder than anything in GR. And the economy of V. in expressing Pynchon's themes...well, GR is ultimately a more Rabelaisan and optimistic work, which makes it less satisfying to the likes of me.

I may die before I read Crying of Lot 49. Everyone else just likes it too much, so I keep putting it off. Will probably read the most recent Pynchon book, set in my beloved 1875-1925, if I ever quit reading blogs and commenting.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 3:55 PM
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Damn, but Lolita is wonderful. I read that book all the time, although I did first read it in high school. I liked Catch-22 a lot when I read it, but I was 12, so who knows. Also, don't trust me, I love Vineland.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:00 PM
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My Humps on the other hand, while hardly so cataclysmically awful, is kind of a cruddy song.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:01 PM
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Kotsko is trolling. "My Life as a Man" is the greatest novel of all time.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:02 PM
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101: This is the wrong way to think about it, I know, but because I've read lots and lots of Delany essays and interviews, I'm interested in what he says about what he's doing in Dhalgren and so I tend to read it in light of all that stuff rather than on its own. So it may well read as random literary noodling to the non-fangirl-reader, I admit.

102: I'll bite. What, Kotsko, is the most devastating scene in all of literature? I thought it was when we learned that Soylent Green was people--or was that a movie?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:02 PM
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Hunt's critique of Catch-22 is amazingly clueless. Yes, in many ways it's a one-joke book, but Hunt entirely misses the joke, and takes passages in the book and interprets them in the opposite of the manner that Heller intended. To pick a quick example:

The book makes that point by depicting the people who make war as stupid and evil.

Well, no it doesn't. Yossarian is himself an effective warrior.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:08 PM
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my high school reading was all over the place...

let's see: The two Mary Renault books on Theseus, The King Must Die & The Bull From the Sea. Euripides' Medea and Phaedra. Flowers for Algernon. The Mouse That Roared. All Quiet on the Western Front. The Old Man and the Sea. Romeo and Juliet. Darkness at Noon. 1984. Fahrenheit 451. Animal Farm. Emma. Catcher in the Rye. Moby Dick. The Red Badge of Courage. Edith Hamilton's Mythology. Oedipus Rex. The Odyssey. The Aeneid. A Tale of Two Cities. Wuthering Heights. Hamlet. Fathers and Sons. Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man. Dante's Inferno. The I Ching. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Various books of the bible. The Bhavagad Gita (maybe not the whole thing, on those last two.)

There were also a bunch of poems and "excerpts" and I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch. I can't really remember what the organizing principal was--lots of Greek & American stuff sophmore year & junior year was all British, but apart from that we just jumped around wildly. Some criticism definitely would've been a welcome addition--several of my English teacher's tended to ask test questions like: "what is Hamlet's tragic flaw?" "what do the lions symbolize?" "what is the theme of the novel?". Annoying.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:08 PM
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And I decided it was too much like my parents' naming theirs Izzy.

I like your parents. Our cat was named Hubert, but it was just a coincidence.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:12 PM
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I'm interested in what he says about what he's doing in Dhalgren

Ah. I don't know what he says about what he's doing in Dhalgren. Perhaps I should find out.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:12 PM
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There was a devastating scene in The Last Gentleman but I completely forget what it was, it was so devastating.

I do remember the suicide and subsequent forgiveness.compassion in The Heart of the Matter but explaining the devastatingness would reveal my invisible tonsure. I think most peple prefer The End of the Affair, but as usual, most people are wrong.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:19 PM
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The part where the wife accidentally drowns the baby. Rabbit's assholery at the funeral is the only appropriate follow-up to it.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:23 PM
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This is the wrong way to think about it, I know, but because I've read lots and lots of Delany essays and interviews, I'm interested in what he says about what he's doing in Dhalgren and so I tend to read it in light of all that stuff rather than on its own

Ah, but to the person who finds it self-indulgent and unsuccessful, this does not help. It doesn't read as random literary noodling to me, but ultimately unfortunate literary noodling. But you are not alone in the category of people I respect who like it lots more than I do.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:24 PM
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Bob, you're a better man than I if you can get through the latest Pynchon. maybe I'll try again next year.

I think that you might particularly like Vineland.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:35 PM
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I thought Kotsko was goping to say the sex scene with the prostitute. I imagined Updike having sex with an IRL prostitute with a pen and notebook in hand, or perhaps hopping off her every 30 seconds to take notes.

A prostitute wouldn't mind, you know. They get paid by the hour and have to deal with all kinds of kinks.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:38 PM
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Yeah, Dhalgren is a bit too pomo-cutesy for my taste, but I understand why some people like it.

re: Against the Day: parts of it were just fucking awesome (the 9/11 chapter(s)), parts of it seemed to have no point (The Candlebrow University interlude). That said, I've only read it once, and someone failed to return my copy so it may be a while before I do again.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:48 PM
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Ooh, Ooh an opportunity. I must abuse my unwelcome and run away. I was googling Georges Sorel and came across this old book called The Monist which appears to be almost a popular magazine about philosophy. Has original articles by Frege. And there is this simply darling review of Reflexions sur le violence that I have been aching, dripping, to share. The bummer is that Adobe has the book as a set of jpgs and I have no OCR.

"What Sorel wants is not a political, but a social form. One must remember that his creed does not spring from the sight of wrongs to be addressed, abuses to be cured, liberties to be seized. He hates the middle classes, he hates middle-class democracy and middle-class socialism; but he does not hate these things as a champion of the rights of the people, he hates them as a middle-class intellectual hates. And the proletarian general strike is merely the instrument with which he hopes to destroy these abominations, not a weapon by which the lower classes are to obtain political or economic advantages. His motive forces are ideas and feelings which never occur to the mind of the proletariat, but which are highly characteristic of the present-day intellectual. At the back of his mind is a scepticism which springs from Renan, but which is much more terrible than Renan's. For with Renan and Sainte-Beuve scepticism was still a satisfying point of view, almost an esthertic pose. And for many of the artists of eighties and nineties the pessimism of decadence fulfilled their craving for an attitude. But the scepticism of the present, the scepticism of Sorel, is a torturing vacuity which has developed the craving for belief."

This was, in toto, a favourable review, believe it or not. The conclusion, also seen by a generous Walter Lippmann, was for the need for a self-concious ironic created myth, maybe a Nietzsche kinda thing.

But so, ya know, Dostoevskaian I was like rolling on the floor laughing, in a kind of hilarious horror (did I see myself there?).

Not as long as I thought it would be, even if I did have to type rather than cut-and-paste. I am outa here.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 4:58 PM
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Dhalgren was chronollogicaly pre-pomo by most standards.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:00 PM
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Frowner's idea in 76 is a good 'un. I've never read Goodbye To All That, though I did recently pick up Antigua, Penny, Puce, which I'd wanted to read ever since reading the description of it in Miranda Seymour's biography of Graves, borrowed from my father (this one; I recall it had a rather striking portrait of Graves on the cover, handsomely broken nose on display—I think 1995–99 were the years in which I read the most broadly, formatively, and just plain most) at a used bookstore in Oakland.

We read lots of good stuff in my high school, or at least in the path through the english program I took: Dubliners and Portrait, Beloved (which actually I detested but is, I suppose, widely considered good), The Sound and the Fury, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Waiting for Godot and I think The Bald Soprano, Crime and Punishment, Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, The Mayor of Casterbridge, though I think I was the only one who liked it, Gatsby and Huck Finn, of course, lots of English poetry, Pride & Prejudice & Wuthering Heights, ect ect ect, Actually with the exception of Gatsby & Huck Finn those were all from the third and fourth years; I can barely remember what we read in first and second, aside from Their Eyes Were Watching God, Romeo & Juliet, and the aforementioned. The third year we also had, each semester, to read independently some novel chosen from a rather broad list; I remember going with Andrew Miller's Ingenious Pain and Magnus Mill's The Restraint of Beasts; I can hardly believe I remember the name of the author of the latter and am not sure where it is, probably still in Irvine—all this to say nothing of the summer reading which consisted in making a choice from a list; I can't remember what I chose every year but I know that at one point it was Rendezvous with Rama (bo-ring) and at another A Pair of Blue Eyes.

I'm telling you all this because I know you're interested.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:04 PM
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121:I picked The Dummies Guide to Post-Modernism last week, so I will check it out. Lyotard, Williams, a long section on Baudrillard for idiots like me. I suspect literature is always ahead of philosophy, and Delany was always as bleeding-edge as possible. I would call the 60s novels post-modern.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:17 PM
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bah 122 sb 120 121 whatever


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:18 PM
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ect ect ect

I'm telling you all this because I know you're interested.

You're cute.

Actually, the high school reading lists recounted here seem a bit broader than what I had. The I Ching?? Epic of Gilgamesh? Oh, my.

Some notable absences: we (I) didn't read Huck Finn. I don't know why. The only thing we read that I don't see mentioned, perhaps because it was early, i.e. freshman or sophomore year, was a lot of early American stuff that I registered as crap at the time: Jonathan Edwards. Eventually in that series, The Scarlet Letter.

I confuse all of this with lit survey courses I later took in early college, though, which is where Dostoevsky, Gogol, Faust in all its forms, Ralph Ellison, Nabokov, Pynchon came in. A random list. It takes a little thought to realize these were not high school reading.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:24 PM
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The French Lieutenant's Woman

Hm. I think I have to revise my 81 above. I'm reminded that we read this as well, and I'm pretty sure I liked it, though I remember nothing of it but the cover now.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:24 PM
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121: That's not Arthur C. Clarke's best work. I much prefer his survey of my dietary habits when I was in my early 20s: Rendezvous with Ramen.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 5:49 PM
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126: or that gay porn novel he wrote, set in Boston, Rendezvous with Rammah.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 6:01 PM
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It was possible to graduate from my high school with As without reading a single book.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 6:14 PM
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121: I do believe that Dhalgren was published in 1975, and according to Doug Henwood the post-modern "break" was 1968, when everyone was all disappointed by the failure-to-materialize of world revolution. (I have some problems with this periodization, though.) (And I would add that if you seriously expect to take over France merely because you're holding off riot cops in Paris, you're probably beyond help.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 6:15 PM
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Catch 22 is anything but a "trudge". As someone who read it at school and after graduating from university, I can confirm that it's hilarious. I'll also second the recommendations of The Glass Bead Game.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 6:23 PM
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That's an easy one. Screw Doug Henwood. Pomo started in 1976.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 6:42 PM
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What are calling postmodernity these days? I'm not up to date.


Posted by: Michel Foucault | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 7:38 PM
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Postmodernity probably regrets giving what its number.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 7:44 PM
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Most people are unaware that My Humps inspired a groundbreaking intellectual property lawsuit.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 7:45 PM
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why I disliked [...] the Carson McCullers novel

You're breaking my heart, Frowner. You could really spend an entire year of high school teaching nothing but McCullers and Flannery O'Connor and the kids would be much better for it. Particularly if they were replacing Charles freaking Dickens.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:42 PM
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130 is correct about Catch-22 and makes me want to try The Glass Bead Game in English after several times of making little headway in German. But I also like Salinger.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:48 PM
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(And Dickens, for that matter.)


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:48 PM
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God bless you, apostropher. Have you read Barry Hannah's Airships? Funny, slightly bizarre short stories set in the South. I think you'd like it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:49 PM
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Have you read Barry Hannah's Airships?

Nope. I'll pick it up, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:51 PM
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"She would of been a good woman if it had been someone there to shoot her every day of her life".

Words to live by.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:56 PM
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I remember reading a bunch of Greek plays in high school (notably Seven Against Thebes) and some Dostoyevsky (The Gambler and The Idiot in addition to Crime and Punishment). Also Invisible Man and, Stoker's Dracula (which I read in... my junior year, I guess, when we could pick something vaguely canonical to write a paper on). Everything else is kind of a blur about what I read for fun, what I read in college, and what I read when assigned it in school. I'm relatively sure Brave New World was on the curriculum but We was not, but I wouldn't bet money on it, f'rinstance.

You know what I wish I had read in high school? Charles Portis's Masters of Atlantis.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 8:57 PM
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You know what we read in 10th grade English that was great? The Princess Bride. Mr. Wohlmann was one of my favorite teachers ever -- that more than made up for also reading A Tale of two Cities, to which my 137 does not apply.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 9:07 PM
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Way backs in '72-'73, the curriculum at my high school (Lawrence [KS] High, home of the Chesty Lions), went all liberal and stuff, and the junior year English curriculum became a smorgasbörd of 9 week classes. The two I remember were mystery and detective (where we read "Arsenic and Old Lace" aloud; sadly, I was replaced as the lead character just before the "Did you hear? I'm a bastard!" line) and science fiction, where I was handed "Stranger in a Strange Land" and had my reality structure severely discombobulated. The canon book we read there was "Brave New World," and I absolutely despised it. So much so that when it was assigned in a science fiction class three years later, I was able to write a scathing paper on it without reading it again, save to check character names.

My most entertaining high school reading class was my senior year; a survey of Middle Eastern/Asian works, including Gilgamesh, the Tale of Genji and the Tao de Jing.

I read about 2/3rds of Dhalgren whilst recuperating from an appendectomy. Enjoyed it quite a bit, but never got back to it. Also enjoyed the Neveryon books. I once interviewed Fred Pohl, who mentioned that as Delany's editor, he read Dhalgren four times before it was published.


Posted by: Dr Paisley | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 9:18 PM
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we read "Arsenic and Old Lace" aloud

Sweet jesus, the reading aloud. After I slacked off and stopped turning in assignments, my C in the advanced english class landed me in the standard class where we read aloud Lord of The Flies.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 9:34 PM
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I read "Lolita" aloud, and the teacher asked me to come back and read it again the next year, because I embodied it so well. I never quite knew what to think of this.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-30-07 9:41 PM
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75 gets it. gatsby is all about nick becoming the (all-knowing, dark-visioned modernist) writer of gatsby, and to get there he screws over jordan in the narrative, (who introduced him to the story). moral certitude, self-involvement. just like me putting the screws to fitzgerald to become the all-knowing hero of my dissertation...shit rolls downhill....


Posted by: forkinit | Link to this comment | 07- 1-07 1:38 AM
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I'm going to have to reread Gatsby, not right away however, but that sounds like crap.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 1-07 6:34 AM
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Anybody who doesn't find Catch-22 falling down funny has the soul of a Republican op-ed writer. If they made you read it at school, bad luck. Try again.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07- 1-07 7:34 AM
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We had the usual canon stuff in high school English, I think. Shakespeare plays, the WW1 poets, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, etc. We did have a fair bit of Scottish literature, too, though. Earnest but life-endingly boring Presbyterians writing about the Highland Clearances and the like. Blech.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 1-07 8:23 AM
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135: Thank goodness I'm done with high school--if I had to take such a class, it would probably have actually put me off reading anything. I would have to go back and reread a lot to grasp why, but I really do not like Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor. (I actually read a reasonable amount of both in high school, again out of boredom and limited book selection.) I don't like Grace Paley particularly, either, or what's-his-name, Carver.

When I was, oh, between the ages of ten and fourteen, I read a lot of New Yorker-y and/or Grace Paley-y short stories--the kind where there's people in an ordinary, "realistic" setting, and something "realistic" happens (although it's often quirky as well) and everyone has a lot of Deep Feelings and Sadness and sometimes Nostalgia. And people have a bunch of really repressed conversations where nothing much is said but much is Felt and Meant. The story ends with some small moment of Feeling, or alternatively, Meaninglessness. Sometimes quirky events happen too, but Domestically Quirky.

All these stories confused the hell out of me and made me very anxious about adulthood, since it sure seemed like adults were just like robots--they would get up one morning, look at some random set of objects, have a stilted little conversation about something and then, wham! Divorce! Or even, wham! Suicide!

I tend to feel that people as individuals aren't very interesting, I think--I mean, they're interesting if you know them personally, and they can think and say very interesting things indeed, but what they do isn't too interesting. It may be tragic, or funny, or weird, but it's not profound. A nervous breakdown is not profound. Depression is not profound. Having a midlife crisis and falling in love with an eighteen-year-old isn't profound. Of course, I'm not sure about this "profound" category that I'm throwing about, but I feel like I think more interesting thoughts when I read something where the focus isn't on one person's feelings during a rather everyday event.

It's a bit childish of me, I think, but I like books that are big and messy and splashy, or at least not "realistic", or else books that are written with an explicitly political purpose. (Most of the books I really like are, I have to admit, just kids' books writ large) I like the USA trilogy, for example, and I'm reading Berlin Alexanderplatz right now (SO depressing!). I like Angela Carter a lot, and Bleak House is just about my favorite novel. And even though Doris Lessing's prose makes the angels cry I have virtually all of her books. In fact, if there were an author the Most Like Frowner In Outlook (for both good and bad--what a spiteful woman she is!) it would certainly be Doris Lessing.

It's too bad there's so much of teh sex in most Angela Carter books, because otherwise they would be great for high school, or at least Wise Children would.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 1-07 9:06 AM
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147: re 146 - it sounds like a dissertation.


Posted by: rachel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-07 9:48 AM
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Almost every novel I like is already namechecked in this thread. Even Masters of Atlantis! Once again, the Unfogged commentariat leave me feeling slow and dull.

One author not mentioned: Nathaniel West (Ms. Lonelyhearts, Day of the Locust), would be a fine author for your intelligent and alienated HS youth. But it's striking to me how many HS novels are premised on the assumption that upper middle class adolescents are alienated. I'm not sure they are any more. Still impatient with their elders, but not really alienated from them.

I was pleased to see the mediocre and massively overrated "Corrections" disposed of within the first 30 or so comments.

75 is a rather brilliant comment.

Was anyone else forced to read Faulkner in HS? I didn't get it at all. It may have forever ruined Faulkner for me, I should try him again sometime.

Oh, just for the hell of it, another set of novels I love -- Edmund White's autobiographical trilogy about gay life in America from the 50s through AIDS. A whole community going from total marginalized oppression and contempt to triumphant cultural leadership and public promiscuity to a savage quasi-biblical plague, all within thirty years. Probably one of the most dramatic stories in history when you think about it. That trilogy does it full justice, it's a great human story. But it's probably inappropriate for high school reading because of the detailed, enthusiastic descriptions of homosexual orgies.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 12:20 AM
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Nathanael West would be even better.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 12:29 AM
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We had Ms. Lonelyhearts assigned in 10th or 11th grade.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 12:34 AM
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Nathanael West would be even better

See, this kind of thing is why the entire world hates young Ivy grads.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 12:53 AM
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Almost every novel I like is already namechecked in this thread

Either you're living in a hole or you're trolling for book recommendations.
Novels(not all works mentioned are novels) not mentioned in this thread that you might like:
(starting with novels related to those mentioned, and then moving on, according to my idiosyncratic tastes)
---related to novels mentioned:
Emma
Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim
Homage to Catalonia
The Magus
The Brothers Karamazov
All Quiet on the Western Front
---others
Of Human Bondage, The Razor's Edge
The Poisonwood Bible
Ficciones
Gravity's Rainbow, Mason & Dixon
Little, Big
Shadow of the Torturer, etc.
The Power and the Glory
The Sheltering Sky


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 1:31 AM
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I read both Locust and Lonelyhearts in 11th grade. Everyone was given a choice among West and some other authors; I don't remember who I chose not to read.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 1:32 AM
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156:
Hurrah for Wolfe.


Posted by: HC | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 2:02 AM
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Ms. Lonelyhearts

The liberated advice columnist.

Marcus: you ought to give Faulkner another try. Don't start with Sound & Fury, which I will hazard a guess is what they had you read in high school; Absalom, Absalom! would be much better, or The Hamlet (not to be confused with the Shakespearean work of the same title).

156: Gravity's Rainbow was already namechecked, by Bob in 104.


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 4:27 AM
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Homage to Catalonia Novel? If only...

Are we just doing English language stuff here, or can I put in a word for Haruki Murakami?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 5:13 AM
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We did Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children) when I was 15/16. Given that is one of his better novels, I think it was a good choice.


Posted by: Heloise | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 5:37 AM
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Geek Love is probably still my favourite contemporary 'book I studied for a class'. That was undergraduate though, not high school. I can image it wouldn't go down well as a high school set text.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 7:07 AM
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155: I don't believe w-lfs-n is an Ivy League grad.


Posted by: Willy Voet | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 7:10 AM
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162: Name-dropping alert: I went to school with K. Dunn and have met her a few times. She was a figure in Portland and worked for the same nameless weekly as Jesus. Jesus has probably met her too.

I never read her book, but from descriptions it sounded too much like "Hotel New Hampshire".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 10:43 AM
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I am not an Ivy grad, nor am I an Ivy League grad, the league of my alma mater being rather above the former.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 10:47 AM
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Dunn and I were both let go by that paper, but she wasn't actually fired, as far as I know, so advantage: me. Emerson is right, Geek Love is like Hotel New Hampshire with deformities. I regret selling my first edition back to Powell's; it's quite valuable now.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 10:55 AM
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I am not an Ivy grad, nor am I an Ivy League grad, the league of my alma mater being rather above the former.

See, this kind of thing is why the entire world hates young grads of whereever the hell w-lfs-n graduated from.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:13 AM
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167: Hey!

Well, I suppose I'm not a 'young' grad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:14 AM
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169

"Wherever."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:22 AM
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"Where'er"


Posted by: Clownaesthesiologist | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:23 AM
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Everybody loves me because I went to public schools.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:25 AM
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"Wherer."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:25 AM
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I had the thought that w-lfs-n had, but figured I'd let him say it. Us wherever-the-hellists are like that.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:27 AM
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171: Are you claiming to speak for the gente now, Apo?

Because that's my gig.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:36 AM
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It's interesting how 165 did immediately make me kind of want to set someone on fire.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 2-07 11:40 AM
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