Saturday, May 20, 2006

Question of the Day: What is the best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years?

So what IS the best work of American fiction published since 1981?

Post your response here, and tell me how and why you made your choice.

Two hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary types, polled by The New York Times for a special issue of the NYT Book Review, pointed to Toni Morrison's Beloved as the best.

The rest of the Top 5, in descending order, are Don DeLillo's Underworld, John Updike's compendium Rabbit Angstrom, Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian and Philip Roth's American Pastoral.

(see below post for more details)


Josef Benson said...

I saw that list the other day or saw it referred to and was happy to see that Denis Johnson's book of linked stories, Jesus' Son was mentioned. I'm not sure what year that was written but for me that's a seminal work that I must constantly avoid mimicking. I've already been told once by an editor that I was covering ground already covered by Johnson. Evidently ol' DJ has cornered the market on unreliable narrators. Oh Well. But the best, the best work of fiction in the last 25 years? Let me just name a few that have changed me: Larry Brown's novel, Dirty Work, Thom Jones' book, Sonny Liston was Friend of Mine, Carver's, Where I'm Calling From, McCarthy's, Suttree. These are big works for me. Also, you can't fuck with Updike's, Rabbit is Rich; he does things in that book I naively thought you couldn't do. Peace.

Philip B said...

... and some that have had similar effect on me, to one degree or another: John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces (mentioned on the list), Jonathan Frantzen's The Corrections, Harry Crews' A Feast of Snakes (and everything else by Crews) and The Bear Comes Home, a sprawling, jazz-themed comic masterpiece by Rafi Zabor.

It will be interesting to see how other writers, and academics, react to the list.

thanks for stopping by.

Philip B said...

typo -- make that FRANZEN (no "t")