Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Authors I wish would write another book

For the Top 10 Tuesday Web meme:

Top 10 authors I wish would write another book (evidently, being dead does not disqualify one from the list, but I'm confining mine to living writers). I used to be quite irritated about the productivity of my favorite writers versus my mother's favorites. Danielle Steel always seems to be putting out another book, but Jonathan Franzen takes eight or nine years. Where's the justice in that? Only John Updike seemed to match Steel's lockstep march to the printers. Also, several of these authors have written books I have yet to read; so in theory, if I want to read another book by them, I should just go to Amazon, my bookcase or the library. Also, presumably Lev Grossman is going to finish "The Magicians" trilogy, and Matthew Hughes is going to write more Archonate books, so I'm covered there. Michael Chabon, Tim Powers, Mark Leyner, Steve Erickson and Marisha Pessl have novels due out in 2012 or 2013, so I left them off the list. Also, Douglas Coupland has a book about Marshall McLuhan coming out, but no sightings of fiction.

Here we go:

1. Susan Howatch: Howatch wrote six interlocking novels about Church of England clergymen during the 1930s through the 1960s. Often called the Starbridge series, these spellbinding novels combined vivid characterization, exciting and intricate plots, and a heavy, welcome dose of Christian spirituality. She then took a few of the characters from those books, brought them into the 1980s and produced the St. Benet's trilogy about a healing ministry in London and its entanglement with all sorts of sordid stuff. Although the last of those novels, The Heartbreaker, seemed to promise a follow-up that would resolve some of the conflicts left lingering from the fifth Starbridge novel, Mystical Paths, she has not produced said follow-up. She seems to have retired. That's too bad. I respect her decision, but I would like it if she wrote another novel in the series. If not, I would read whatever she wrote next.

2. Jonathan Franzen: It must take him a long time to write those long novels about contemporary life; in the meantime, he writes a lot of autobiographical essays and articles about the post office. I've been a "fan" since The Twenty-Seventh City, and I will continue to hope for whatever he writes next. He does have an essay collection coming out this year, however.

3. Mark Helprin: I went to hear him speak at Wesleyan in 1981 or 1982. I was so impressed with the pinstripe suit he wore that I bought one for myself. Winter's Tale is among a lot of people's top 10 contemporary novels; it combines magic realism with a decidedly libertarian attitude. His subsequent novels engage the reader in many aspects of warfare and satirize modern life -- A Soldier of the Great War (World War I), Memoir in Antproof Case (World War II) and Freddy and Fredericka (Prince Charles and Princess Diana get sent to the United States on a quest). He wrote a diatribe about digital copyright infringement and often writes essays of a decidedly conservative bent, but I hope he's working on more fiction.

4. Glen David Gold: I read Sunnyside, his second novel, in 2011; I wish I had waited, because I could have included it in the World War I challenge. But his first novel, Carter Beats the Devil, delves into magic, the invention of television and the "secret history" genre with skill and suspense. On his blog, he says he's finishing another book, so we can only hope.

5. Austin Grossman: My daughter listened to Soon I Will Be Invincible, a fascinating superhero novel that incorporates elements of Narnia as well. It's one of her favorite novels, and it was one of the top novels I read in the last decade. Again on his blog, he's promised to publish more novels (at the time he wrote Invincible, he was getting a doctorate in literature), so we shall wait and see.

6. David Leavitt: He has been publishing novels about every 3 or 4 years, usually in the same year Tom Perrotta publishes one. For example, in 2008 Leavittpublished The Indian Clerk the same year Perrotta published The Abstinence Teacher. In 2000, they published novels that took place at the same time at Yale -- Martin Bauman, or the Sure Thing (Leavitt) and Joe College (Perrotta).  Last year, however, Perrotta published The Leftovers, but Leavitt didn't seem to publish a novel. I hope he comes out with a new one.

7. Rattawut Lapcharoensap: I read his short-story collection Sightseeing, about life in Thailand, several years ago. The stories were so good that I've been waiting for a follow-up collection or a novel. I haven't seen either. For that matter, I'm also waiting for Paul Yoon's follow-up to his story collection, which is set in South Korea.

8. Kaylie Jones: Two of her novels were among my favorites of the previous decade -- Celeste Ascending and Speak Now. Recently, she wrote a memoir about her mother, which I intend to read. But I'm wondering if she's going to write another novel.

9. Whit Stillman: He's written only one novel, and it was based on his movie The Last Days of Disco. But I thought the novel was witty and fun, and I liked it better than the movie. Stillman is the chronicler of WASPs -- his movies Metropolitan and Barcelona are lots of fun. He has a new movie out, Damsels in Distress, which is making the rounds of festivals. But how about trying to write another novel? I'm sure it would be good.

10. Elizabeth McCracken: She's know more for The Giant's House and her memoir about losing a baby than for her second novel, Niagra Falls All Over Again. But Falls is a showbiz novel (focusing on a vaudeville team), and I love showbiz novels. But whatever she's working on next, I'm sure I'll enjoy.

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