The Broke and the Bookish, and this week it's authors that we think deserve more recognition. This one was especially tricky for me, because I tend to basically read books that are only by extremely esteemed authors- case in point, Wuthering Heights, and Anna Karenina, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest... you get the general idea. Add to that the fact that basically my favourite author in the world is John Steinbeck, and I was basically screwed! But, I rallied myself and managed to think up 10 authors (some of non-fiction) who I think deserve more credit than they get- even if they do already get a fair bit of credit! And then I really easily thought up 5 authors who deserve less recognition, a list which, to be honest, makes me look like a bit of lazy reader- which I am not! But anyway, I hope you enjoy!
Top Ten Authors who deserve more recognition
1. Stephen King- I know. I've made it fully obvious that I love him (just check out the challenges tab for information about my labour of love for him) and I realise that he gets plenty of recognition for being such an entertaining and imaginative author. It's just that I would defend to the death his literary merits too, and I think he's a really important part of literary history (something which he probably wouldn't even agree with himself. Which is another reason to love him!) Basically, everyone should just read them some Stephen King!
2. Tony Kushner- I seriously don't even know how well regarded Tony Kushner is in the outside world, but in my brain he is honestly the greatest writer, and therefore deserves all the recognition that can be bestowed on one. I'm going to make a guess and say that he's pretty well regarded in the theatre world, but less so in the reading world- which is a MISTAKE! Read my review of Angels in America for more evidence of my Kushner-mania...
3. Joyce Carol Oates- I think Oates may be recognised to a greater extent in America, because I have basically never really seen her mentioned in the British press at all (I could of course be wrong about this, because I pretty much just stick to reading the books and that's it). The first book I read of hers was 'We Were the Mulvaneys', and after that I was hooked- it was so good, it actually made me forget that I had an exam the day after I was reading it, and made me stay up waaay too late before that one... But it was totally worth it.
4. Richard Yates- It's probably not that fair of me to assert that Yates deserves more recognition, having only read one of his books that was also turned into a movie (Revolutionary Road). Nonetheless, I went from not at all knowing who he was, to being pretty blown away by this book he had written, which was far far better than the movie, although that was ok too. But I should probably read some more of his books to back this one up!
5. T C Boyle- Again, I've only read one of his books, but it was awesome enough to make me go out and buy another. The Tortilla Curtain is a kind of satire on people who consider themselves 'enlightened', but are actually pretty racist, and also deals with the heartbreaking conditions faced by illegal Mexican immigrants in the US, and it definitely deserves more publicity and praise than I've really read about it (having written an essay on it, I happen to know there's not a whole lot of things written about it) and the same could be said for the author. Also, his full name, Tom Coraghessan Boyle, really is pretty spectacular enough in itself to warrant him more attention!
6. Michael Cunningham- The author of basically one of my very favourite books, The Hours, this is yet again the only book that I have read by him, but oh my what a book! I don't know if having read only one of the books of all these authors is a symptom of the rest of their writing being awful, or just the lack of recognition that they get on the whole. I'm more inclined to go with the latter, especially in Cunningham's case, because The Hours is honestly one of the best things I have ever read ever (did I mention that already? Because it's definitely true!) and he deserves all the recognition in the world for that book alone, if you ask me.
7. Daniel Keyes- Flowers for Algernon is about the most moving piece of science fiction ever written. Enough said.
8. Arundhati Roy- Her novel, The God of Small Things, has remained with me in a way that very few books have done- it's moving, strange, unjust, tumultous, and I couldn't put it down. Having just extensively researched her (i.e. looked her up on Wikipedia) I see that The God of Small Things is basically her only novel, her main focus being on social and political issues, and her politics seem to be pretty similar to my own... if this is part of why I love her novel then so be it, but it is pretty amazing in spite of this, rather than because of it (although I totally want to be her friend now). So, she deserves a greater recognition for her artistic qualities, rather than her politics, although these are, of course, equally important!
9. Michael Moore- Love him or loathe him (I tend to do the former, because I basically continually agree with him), you'd still pretty much have to admit that he's a pretty great writer. He always presents his arguments in a coherent and logical way (something I appreciate as a philosopher) and above all manages to keep you entertained, even in political matters that can be pretty boring. I think that even the staunchest right winger could appreciate his books at a superficial level, while completely hating everything he stands for. So, more recognition for his writing rather than his rabid left wing politics? Yes please.
10. Barack Obama- Oh yes, you voted for him (or, I hope you did at least!) but you may not know that your President can write. (I just realised that I completely wrote that for American readers only, but really- I would love it if Obama was my President. Or that we had a President. *Sigh*). But anyway, Dreams From My Father is one of the best memoirs I've probably ever read, and however many Nobel Peace Prizes the guy gets, I think we should all still remember that he also has the soul of an artist; and how is that not better than being the most powerful man in the world?!
And now, just for my peace of mind, the five authors who deserve less recognition:
1. Daniel Defoe- I don't know if you've ever tried to read Robinson Crusoe, but OH my God, it's just horrible- a whole load of list making, and then enlistment of a man who he makes do everything for him and justifies it because he has taught him Christianity, and so that's ok! I guess this makes me less of a fan of 18th century values, than Defoe himself, but trust me, it's also appallingly written too (I like to refer to the time he was writing as 'the time before people knew how to write novels properly') Just, avoid at all costs please?
2. Samuel Richardson- A similar problem to Defoe, in that the dude can't actually write, but it's almost even more insulting that the piece of trash he produced (Pamela) spawned a cultural craze in the style of Harry Potter, for a book that is not even 1% as good as Harry Potter is! Also, reading Pamela made me want to kill myself quite a bit, so it's probably best to avoid it as much as you can.
3. Charles Dickens- Yeah, I just can't. I hate him, I really do. I also hate that people expect me to be well versed in Dickens because I have an English degree. I'm not, because he sucks! And I can't get past all the words that are there for no reason! Just, no.
4. James Joyce- This list is making me look more and more like a pleb. But, I'm sorry, reading is there to, not necessarily be easy, but at least to be comprehensible, and to not make me feel like I'm sinking into quicksand while I'm reading it. I'm sure there are people out there who genuinely do enjoy Joyce, and good for them. I just really can't relate.
5. Bret Easton Ellis- I kind of swing both ways on Ellis, because he certainly knows how to disgust and create vivid pictures for his readers (I actually blocked out parts of American Psycho, and if I say the bit with the mouse/rat was one of these than I think you might understand why) but then his books also have no cohesion, no story, and are essentially empty. Which, I'm pretty sure, is the effect he is trying to create, but at the same time it leaves me cold and feeling no connection for his writing, which is something I always want to have. However, having read basically everything he's ever written meant that I could fully enjoy this hilarious mash-up of Ellis and the Babysitters Club, so maybe he's not all bad after all.
So, that's my top 10 and bottom 5! How about you? Any authors you think should get bucketloads more attention than they do already? Or conversely, ones you think are awful and everyone should just shut up about (because clearly that's what I'm really interested in!)? Let me know in the comments!