Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Page Turners, For Me

I said yesterday that I'd mention some of the page turners in my life. The ones below do not make an exhaustive list, but all of them are fondly remembered.

Misery, by Stephen King. I burned through Misery like a laser through cellophane. This is King’s best work, in my opinion. The prose is the weakest of the three elements in this book. I don’t think it sings, but it serves the purpose of the characters and plot so well that it is hard to find fault with it.

Ghost Story, by Peter Straub. This is a long book but I finished it in a weekend. It hit on every cylinder. Dramatic opening situation, more great characters than any other novel I can think of, and prose that was both delightful to read and chillingly effective. How do you convey the "silence" of the snow in words? Straub does it.

Midnight, by Dean Koontz. Again, a great dramatic opening, solid characters, although not as memorably as Straub’s, and crafted prose. I could include Koontz’s Phantoms here as well. The situation here was even more interesting than the one in Ghost Story.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. What could be more dramatic than two survivors, a man and a boy, struggling across a post-apocalyptic wasteland? And the father, so lovingly crafted in the way he cares for his son. Great characters. And the prose reflects the mood so perfectly that it’s both almost invisible and still scintillating.

Drive, by Jim Sallis. It starts with a man dying in a bathroom with blood all around and gun close to hand. Nearly the perfect noir opening. And the character as he is revealed is wonderful. Finally, Sallis’s prose never fails to satisfy.

To Tame a Land, by Louis L'Amour. It starts with a boy and his father standing beside their broken down wagon in Indian country as the rest of the wagon train rolls past. I'm already hooked, but Ryan Tyler, the boy who grows up to be a gunfighter, is a wonderfully drawn adventure character.

Of course, feel free everyone to share your own lists. This is a selfish invite, by the way. I'm always looking to discover my next big read. Gotta get my fix.

14 comments:

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi, Charles: Enjoyed this. I have read Ghost Story many moons ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, I'll have to check out the rest. Of course, saw the movie Misery. My brother in law has been living it- with foot surgery, stuck in a wheelchair, and at the mercy of my sister in law, his wife. Poor guy. Hubby and I bought the movie and mailed to him! She wouldn't watch it! Ha! Donnetta

Steve Malley said...

Hm, good topic. What *are* the last few books to completely hijack my life?

Dean Koontz, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Lee Child all get me to put down whatever else I'm reading and sometimes even go slack on the drawing deadlines.

Oh, and Andrew Vachss and James Lee Burke too. It's kind of a good thing all these people don't write a book every week!

Some memorable surprises?

Dope, by Sarah Gran
The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay
The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
Skinny Legs and All, Tom Robbins

I'm sure I could go on and on, but that's a short list of books I picked up and got a lot more than I expected. Bags under the eyes, missed appointments, and an adrenalin thrill like a wire in the blood...

Dave Hardy said...

Just freely associating:

Judgement Night by C.L. Moore
Pillars of Eternity by Barrington Bayley
Freezer Burn by Joe Lansdale
The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
The Golem by Gustav Meyrink
Many, many stories by Robert E. Howard!

To name a few. All of these are fiction. There are certain works of non-fiction that stand out for their subject and prose too.

H.E.Eigler said...

Misery is one of my all time favorites too - I've read the book three times and have the DVD in our collection.

King's Bag of Bones sucked me in fast with the first person narrative and it was over before I knew it.

Neil Gaiman gets a vote from me too. I loved "Neverwhere"

Erik Donald France said...

Excellent list. I just picked up a copy of The Road for the library and look forward to reading it.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I HAVE TRYING TO PICK UP THE ROAD FOR WEEKS, CHARLES. LIVING IN CHICAGO, YOU'F EFFING THINK, AM I RIGHT?

Sidney said...

"Whispers" by Dean Koontz was a hard-to-put-down title for me. "Congo" was another for all of its slam-bang action. I'm with Steve on Lee Child also. "Echo Burning" to me has a very exciting climax, which interestingly in a way reminds me of some of Louis L'Amour's endings which can be very exciting and hard to put down.

Lucas Pederson said...

Great post. MIsery and Ghost Story are both intoxicating novels. I'm reading lost boy, lost girl right now by Peter Straub. Very good so far. Here's my little list of page turners.

Cujo: Stephen King
City Primeval: Elmore Leonard
Berserk: Tim Lebbon
The Taking: Dean Koontz

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'd have to disagree with H.E. on King's Bag of Bones; I thought it was Bag of Crap. Also, I feel his best work is Shawshank Redemption.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm not very familiar with Lee Child. Sounds like I need to pick up some of his stuff. Freezer Burn by Lansdale was great, but almost all of his stuff is. And C. L. Moore and Robert E. Howard, of course. Whispers by Koontz was tremendous, as was Lightning. Maybe I'll try King's Bag of Bones, cautiously considering JR's comment. I didn't care that much for Gaiman's American Gods but maybe I'll try his other one. As for Koontz's The Taking, that book sucked me in big time but I was disappointed with the ending.

etain_lavena said...

wowi kewl.....my fav one is in afrikaans and wont be of any use to you:)
There is so many books in this world.....I love it:)
Another fav one is Vampire Lestat(Ann Rice)...but all her stuff is amazing..
Ja Dean Koontz is good I read some of that work a little while back....cant remeber the name though....DOH....
Maybe I should ask Steve about Mr Terry P, seeing that, that is my post today....hmmm...sorry that was a note to self...
Stay well C:)

Jack said...

I like Misery too. I saw the movie first and read the book a few years later. I was afraid seeing the movie would ruin the book for me, but it didn't. Unfortuantely, I haven't read the other books.

Of course, Robert E. Howard is a big favorite. Pigeons from Hell is one of his stories that comes to mind.

Others are: Shane, the Stranger by Camus, Stranger in a Strange Land, Lord of Light by Zelazny, Great Expectations, not to mention Poe and Lovecraft.

Susan Miller said...

Intensity by Koontz gave me a stroke and turned me off of the genre. Great writer, good book. I wanted to scream, hated the anxiety and could not put it down.

That's it. All I got, man. The only book I have ever read by King, whom I admire, is his one on writing. This makes me almost unworthy of commenting, huh?

I'm slowly getting back to fiction after having a love affair with non-fiction for several years and have wondered how hard wired I am for the stuff.

My most recent favorite storyteller is http://www.etgarkeret.com/, and I can't stop reading his work. But then again I think part of the attraction is my interest in the viewpoint of someone young and smart right smack in the center of the Middle East conflict.

Randy Johnson said...

Here's my list. All by Robert Crais. His new novel The Watchman. Elvis Coles' partner Joe Pike takes center stage. He's protecting a Federal Witness, a Paris Hilton wannabe, in this one. Also Hostage( Bruce Willis was in the very good movie based on this one). Any of the Elvis Coles novels.