Sunday, November 06, 2005

Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels

I’m behind on blogging the books I’ve read, but came across this list the other day and couldn’t resist mentioning it. Lists like this I always find amusing, but rarely agree with them completely. Then again, that is usually the point — to generate conversation. This particular one is even more bogus that most, though; the criteria for inclusion was simply books the authors liked, and although the title reads all-time only books since 1923 were allowed. This article should have been named Our 100 Favorite Modern Novels but then it probably wouldn’t have gotten published in Time.

The most surprising part was a title I wouldn’t have expected to find on a list like this: Watchmen. Graphic novels generally get very little respect when compared with “traditional” literature so seeing one here was unexpected. While I agree that Watchmen is a seminal work, it seems unfair to compare such different forms of the written word. After all, The Snowy Day isn’t here, either. In any case, I’m glad to see graphic novels getting some respect. Unfortunately, while Watchmen is an excellent story, I suspect that many people will dismiss it as comic book fare simply because it deals with super heroes. The Road to Perdition is a title that might resonate with more people, especially with the recent Tom Hanks movie. The goal of the list wasn’t to introduce new art forms, though, and The Road to Perdition probably doesn’t belong on a list of the best ever. But I digress.

Ignoring all that, with any list like this the first thing you do is try and name the novels are missing. My list: Brave New World, The Maltese Falcon, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land, Fahrenheit 451, The Hunt For Red October, Winnie-the-Pooh, A Separate Peace, Rebecca, and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to name a few off the top of my head. I could quibble over several titles that are there that shouldn’t be as well, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. :)

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