when i was at school, my two best friends were Oliver and Dan. We would spend alot of time writing out our Top 10 Lists, mainly of which bands we liked the most that week, and it was generally a big change each week. It would genrally revolve around these bands though;
Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Big Black, Rapemean, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Flipper, Slint, Rodan, June of 44, Scratch Acid, Melvins, Nirvana, Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, Joy Division, Fudge Tunnel, Sepultura etc.
This formed the basis to our Physics lessons, as our teacher believed that we would understand some basic laws of said subject if he span a full bucket of water above his head.
Also, Physics and Religious Education both had the same colour and size textbook, so avoiding work was easily acheived by handing in the wrong book to each lesson. In this spirit, and as we are all getting older and getting married and having babies and getting fatter and losing hair, we are restarting the Top 10 Club, changing subjects regulaly, in the interest of where our passions now lie, 15 years down the road. Here is Olivers top 10 for fiction novels and my reply to this, a few similarities are cropping up which is nice to know.
1. John Fante: Ask the Dust - The perfect antithesis of romance, two people attracted yet unbelievably cruel to each other. I always like a tale about a struggling writer!
2. Fydor Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment - I don't think anyone writes like Dostoevsky, so illustrative and meticulously narrated through dialogue. Again, I love the stuggling academic!
3. Fydor Dostoyevsky: The Idiot - More of a warming tale than the grit that is Crime and Punishment, the character of the idiot is how I imagine Jesus to be if noone had ever written about him.
4. Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margharita - The devil visits communist Russia and screws with people's heads while simultaneously telling the story of Jesus as if it has been completely misunderstood by his disciples and the Christian faith. The damn Catholic faith has made me a tad obsessed with Jesus while convincing me of the complete nonsense that is organised religion!
5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: 100 Years of Solitude - This book is filled with so much detail, and tells a story so intricately without really succumbing to great passages of elaboration.
6. Will Self: The Book of Dave - A taxi driver goes mad due to his divorce and writes a rant that becomes a book addressed to his son, which is then found hundreds of years later and worshipped as the new Bible! Brilliant critique of all religion.
7. George Orwell: 1984 - Brilliant book, which I must admit loses me at the point when the main character reads the handbook about the essential ethos of the regime he wants to resist, but I like it in a doomed romance sense.
8. Roald Dahl: Completely Unexpected Tales - Really dark short stories, great for reading on the bog!
9. Albert Camus: The Outsider - Haven't read this one for a while actually, and I struggle to get into any other Camus books, but I like the idea and the mood of this book.
10. Hubert Selby Jnr: Waiting Period - Another really dark story about a man curious about killing someone and getting away with it. Similar to Crime and Punishment with regards to reasoning killing and then suffering the human consequences, but I love how well researched the method of killing is!
I'm sure I forgot lots of books, and I've got such a long list of books to read, that I'm sure this will change for future physics lessons!
Albert Camus – The Outsider
I couldn’t think about anything else for weeks after I read this, and as Oliver said, which is great, really intense and wrought with tension.
Charles Bukowski – Ham on Rye
My personal pick for Bukowski, which is strange as it his biggest departure from his classic style, which I love, but it sets up his other novels in terms of sowing the seeds of apathy and hatred.
John Fante – Ask the Dust
Almost like a mix of classic Bukowski and Knut Hamson, making me wish I was living in California in the 20’s & 30’s. I think I bought this for you Ollie?? I hope I did as it topped your list.
JG Ballard – Empire of the Sun
What an impact, especially as a young man, and as a set up for his other books, and his fascination as an author with the darker sides of life. I wanted to put sown also the follow on novel ‘The Kindness of Women’ and his short novellas ‘Running Wild’ and ‘Concrete Island’.
Billy Childish – Calling Things by Their Proper Names
Although not one of his awesome novels, this is my favourite volume of his poetry, with an awesome screened / beautifully bound hardback cover.
Henry Miller – Tropic of Cancer
The most intelligent dirty old man, awesome.
Mark Danielewski – House of Leaves
Mind blowing, my only new book on the list, are real strange format which demands a physical inclusion, and probably best not for a bus journey, attention demanding to say the least, but very satisfying and esoteric in equal measures.
Phillip Pullman – His Dark Materials Trilogy
I know, but I loved it, even though we have discussed it faults, but all three ruled my world for a good week or so. I almost wish I could read them again fresh.
Knut Hamson – Hunger
My choice for the starving artist syndrome award, perfect, and almost timeless in that it could be set in any era apart from a few pointers to when it is set.
Truman Capote – Music for Chameleons
Amazing set of short stories, with a pre-cursor to In Cold Blood, with the most amazing picture on the front of the penguin edition, Truman dancing with marilyn, top stuff!
I look forward to Dans reply now!
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