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Old 03-31-2009, 12:09 AM   #1
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Upbeat literary fiction?

Does anyone have recommendations for something contemporary and literary but not dark and despairing? Really the past hundred years is contemporary enough, and darkness in the work is fine, as long as it's good quality writing and not presenting a bleak worldview.

I have plenty of genre (sci-fi) on my plate, and I'm looking for something with a little more meat to it. I'm fond of magical realism: a big fan of Italo Calvino and Jeanette Winterson. I read Murakami's Kafka on the Shore not too long ago, and that was good, but a little more dark and more genre-ish than I'm looking for. Two of my favorite novels are Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveller and Winterson's Gut Symmetries. I'm a sucker for anything meta-textual or cosmological if it's done well. I liked Palahniuk's Lullaby, but haven't been crazy about anything else of his (and of course he strays pretty far to the dark side). For style, Hemingway is king.

Of course, I'm open to something totally different; whatever I'm looking for, I haven't found it yet :P
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:31 AM   #2
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I would recommend pretty much anything by Tom Robbins. Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Jitterbug Perfume (<---possible spoilers at link) and Skinny Legs & All have been my favourites. I think the latter two in particular may cover the "magical realism" angle nicely.

Cheers,
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:15 PM   #3
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"Upbeat literary fiction"???

Isn't that an oxymoron?


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Old 03-31-2009, 12:22 PM   #4
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Michael Moorcock 'Gloriana or the Unfulfilled Queen' is a lot of fun.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:24 PM   #5
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Anything by the wonderful Banana Yoshimoto. I would advise Kitchen, which although it is about death and other things, is still quite a bright and sunny novel.
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:38 PM   #6
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I got Bobby's Diner from Fictionwise, and it's really good, left me with a nice positive feeling that it will all be OK in the end.
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Old 03-31-2009, 02:03 PM   #7
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Raney and Walking Across Egypt by Clyde Edgerton are pretty upbeat.
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Old 03-31-2009, 02:27 PM   #8
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Thank you for all the recommendations =)

A lot of these I've not heard of and will definitely check out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by montsnmags View Post
I would recommend pretty much anything by Tom Robbins.
Cheers,
Marc
You know, I read Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas and was profoundly underwhelmed, but friends have mostly convinced me I should take a whack at something more 'canonical' like Cowgirls or Jitterbug Perfume.

I started in on Another Roadside Attraction as well, and was fed up with it maybe 30-40 pages in. It just seems to me that he's trying too hard to be original, which comes off more as contrived, and all the characters are portrayed with this smirking quality, to the point that everyone in both books (Pajamas and Roadside) comes off as a massive d-bag. If the author can't be bothered to sympathize with his characters, why would I care if they live, die, or get sold a bridge to Betelgeuse?

I will pick up Jitterbug Perfume at some point and try to keep an open mind, but so far Robbins strikes me as a poor derivative of John Barth with a bit of the Mesoamerican Magical Realists thrown in, all packaged for greater accessibility.
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Old 03-31-2009, 03:59 PM   #9
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Michael Moorcock 'Gloriana or the Unfulfilled Queen' is a lot of fun.
This sounds absolutely delightful - but it can't be acquired as an ebook, can it?

Moorcock sounds quite interesting. I wasn't aware of him, but I will be sure to try some out, now.
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Old 03-31-2009, 04:28 PM   #10
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um

Christopher Moore, Lamb: the Gospel according to Buff Jesus's Childhood Pal as well as the book A Dirty Job.

They are humorous.

The Life of Pi is good (could have been edited better IMO)

In general I tend to avoid the literary stuff, seems like they are too stuffy and boring. Yeah I admit it Clive Cusslers books are not terribly realistic or even remotely possible in general, but they are a fun read! If I wanted depressing stuff I could easily talk to my friends, family and/or watch tv.

Do people who read Literary Fiction actually read books very often? It seemed to me, when I worked at a bookstore, they were buying the books for status and the fact that they were reading "literature" not a mass market pback.

Amy
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Old 03-31-2009, 04:43 PM   #11
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Hi Amy! Good observation, something that never occurred to me. I suppose that may be the case, that some people like having classic books in order to make themselves seem more intellectual. I had shelves and shelves full of them, but that was due to having bought them when I was still in college studying lit. I got rid of everything a few weeks ago, except for some art books and travel books. I only kept one ginormous complete Shakespeare (the big Norton monster that is too heavy to move, much less carry to class).

There are tons of great classics right here at Mobile Read in the book upload section. I recommend PMing Dr Drib and asking him about some of his recent collections. He has collected zombies, pulp fiction, all sorts of genres and pulled them together into coherent anthologies.
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Old 03-31-2009, 04:47 PM   #12
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Do people who read Literary Fiction actually read books very often? It seemed to me, when I worked at a bookstore, they were buying the books for status and the fact that they were reading "literature" not a mass market pback.

Amy
I would say they do. Personally, I read a wide variety of genres/types. Some are like candy, very easy to swallow but not particularly nourishing. On the other end you find stuff that may take a bit more time, but is overall more rewarding and 'filling'. I really enjoy good prose - and you can't get that on any street corner I very seldom try to read what would for me be the really tough stuff (YMMV), like James Joyce or Thomas Pynchon, etc. That is art. But I enjoy e.g. Antonia Byatt or Umberto Eco or E.M Forster. For me it's like the difference between your generic TV show and a good quality (art) film.

When I think of other readers of 'literary fiction' that I know of (mainly my family, incl. uncles, aunts and cousins), they certainly do read the books they buy. But, I also find some of them a bit snobby about only reading 'good' books. Just like there are people who rarely read anything but, for example, romance and chick-lit, they don't really think of trying to expand their reading habits either. But they do read the books - if there is status in it, it's more to do with actually reading it.

I can follow what you say about people buying books for status, but I would guess it would centre around best-sellers. Sometimes there are books that everyone must have because it's supposed to be 'good', but few actually read it.
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:33 PM   #13
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Tim Robbins is good. I also like Tim Cahill (Pecked To Death By Ducks), David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day), Bill Bryson (In A Sunburned Country, anything but A Walk In The Woods) , Richard Ford (Independence Day), Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe), Jean Shepherd (In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash) and PG Wodehouse (Leave It To Smith, Something Fresh, many others).
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:36 PM   #14
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The fried green tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe really are good. It's a tough place for lunch because it is so small, but they cater to offices. Mine are better, because I use my Granny's recipe, but those come a close second runner up.

Last edited by DixieGal; 03-31-2009 at 05:38 PM. Reason: Oh no! Darned cholesterol is up, so I'll be off fresh fried green tomatoes for a while. Darn it!
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:38 PM   #15
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The fried green tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe really are good. It's a tough place for lunch because it is so small, but they cater to offices. Mine are better, because I use my Granny's recipe, but those come a close second runner up.
I wish I had some! I don't think I've ever eaten any.
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