Friday, March 23, 2007

My B-List

I liked Rhian's ranking post, but I want to focus a moment on the B-list. For me, the B-list is inherently more interesting than the A-list--it holds unexpected treasures, books that other people might not have read. It's something you can talk about (or, of course, blog about). What's the fun in recommending Anna Karenina to somebody? I mean, duh.

But when you press upon your friend a copy of, say, G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, or Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's The Laughing Policeman, or Stanislaw Lem's Fiasco, you may have a friend for life. Or perhaps an enemy. The B-list is where the vagaries of taste begin to creep in; whether people like a B-list book or not actually tells you something about them. Whereas, you know, of course they like Hamlet. (Indeed, we don't even need a hyperlink.)

This is why I'm going to add, below the blogroll on the left-hand column, a new feature of links to B-list books. You may consider these W6 recommendations, though we cannot be held responsible for your reaction to them. (We would be as delighted, however, to learn that you threw one across the room as we would to learn you liked one.)

Sorry for the blank days! We were on the road.


Matthew Tiffany said...

So - why 30 over Dixon's other books? I'm curious...

Anonymous said...

Good question. I think his story collections are hit-and-miss...his collected stories is superb and I almost included that instead. I like Frog but not as much as 30...Interstate is good too.

But ultimately I picked 30 because 1) it's what I consider to be among his best 5 books, and 2) it was the victim of a smug, stupid, shallow, and embittered hit piece in the Times Book Review by Vincent Passaro, which mocked Dixon for his prolificity, eccentricity, and continued use of a manual typewriter, and basically called him a pervert. I am still angry about this and I try to rehabilitate this awesome book every chance I get.

Matthew Tiffany said...

Found that article and am planning to read it later.

What are your top five Dixon books? I see a lot of people praising Interstate, but I'm honestly scared to read it, what with having one daughter and another on the way.

Matthew said...

I would have picked Double Honeymoon over The Connaisseur, the Bridge novels over both, and Connell's collected stories over just about anything. Mulbach was a fossil even in the fifties and there's something grotesque about bringing him into the seventies. The world, literary and otherwise, passed Connell by (more accurately, it sunk below his feet) and those novels are sad testaments to that. Hard to believe the man is still alive.

Just going over your blog and liking it very much. Been a fan of yours since I picked up The Funnies a few years ago.