Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Very quickly

More emergency out-of-town business is transpiring. Nothing here for the next two weeks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Film For Every Year (Part 1)

Hey folks. Had some sudden and unexpected business crop up out of town, so I've been out of the blogging loop for a while. But I'm back here in Austin and ready to try to get back to my usual posting schedule. You know, the one you've all become accustomed to: irregular.

There's a meme going around, which is basically just a long list, and you know how I love long lists. You pick your favorite movie released during each year you've been alive. That's it. Simple, eh?

I've seen it on various sites now, but the first place I saw it was at The A.V. Club. I steal so many ideas from that site, I really should be paying them a percentage. (Which wouldn't be too much of a hardship; as Billy Preston said: "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.") Or they should just make it official and start paying me. Someone get working on that.

There are a lot of tough choices to be made, and a lot of obvious ones. And a lot of weird ones, too, I'm sure. Remember, this is a list of personal preferences, not an objective judgment of quality.

Wikipedia, let's get this going!

Favorite: Patton
Runners-up: Catch-22, M*A*S*H
Great films of that year I have yet to see: Brewster McCloud, Five Easy Pieces
Worst film of that year I have seen: Myra Breckinridge

Wow, there were two Robert Altman films released the year of my birth? And I've only seen one? Need to fix that. Catch-22 was my father's favorite book, and one of his favorite movies, so I've always had an extra bit of affection for both. But regardless of that, it really is an incredibly great movie. It was also the 10th highest grossing movie of 1970. What a wonderful era of filmmaking, and of discerning film viewers. Can you imagine a film as offbeat as that being as popular in today's market? It wouldn't crack the top ten in its first week of release, let alone for the entire year.

Favorite: McCabe & Mrs. Miller
Amazing list of runners-up: A Clockwork Orange, Dirty Harry, Harold and Maude, Straw Dogs, Support Your Local Gunfighter, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Other generally accepted great (or cult favorite) films which aren't quite personal favorites: The French Connection, The Last Picture Show, Shaft, THX 1138
Other generally accepted great (or cult favorite) films I have yet to see: Fiddler on the Roof, Klute, Roman Polanski's Macbeth, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, They Call Me Trinity, Two-Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point
Worst film I have seen: Gamera Vs. Zigra (via MST3K)

Other films I have yet to mention include And Now For Something Completely Different, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Brian's Song, Carnal Knowledge, Diamonds Are Forever, Duel, Mon oncle Antoine (supposedly Canada's greatest film), Walkabout, and B-grade horror classic Willard. 1971: greatest film year ever?

Favorite: The Godfather -- or, as currently depicted on Wikipedia:
The Godfather (Greatest movie ever) (Way to editorialize, asshole)
Runners-up: Deliverance, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
Great films I have yet to see: Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Slaughterhouse-Five
Worst film I have seen: Deep Throat

The Godfather is pretty much a slamdunk. I don't think there are many people who would pick instead, say, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

Favorite: Jesus Christ Superstar
Runners-up: The Exorcist, High Plains Drifter, The Last Detail, Magnum Force, Mean Streets, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Serpico, The Sting
Great films I have yet to see: American Graffiti, Badlands, Papillon, Paper Moon
Worst film I have seen: Westworld

It's pretty obvious I'm throwing all valid considerations but personal preference out the window when you look at the runners-up list, and then consider what I picked as my favorite. What can I say? I dig those dirty hippies singing those crazy Jeebus songs!

Favorite: Chinatown
Runners-up: Blazing Saddles, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Young Frankenstein
Great films I have yet to see: Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, California Split, Thieves Like Us, A Woman Under the Influence
Worst film I have seen: Zardoz

Wow, what a year for double greatness! Two of the very best from Francis Ford Coppola and Mel Brooks in this year alone, plus two Robert Altman films I haven't even seen yet! Picking my favorite wasn't even close, but it would be a tough call picking my second; I think I might have to go with Blazing Saddles, despite the sheer brilliance of both of those Coppola entries.

Favorite: The Man Who Would Be King
Runners-up: Death Race 2000, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nashville
Great films I have yet to see: Barry Lyndon, Farewell, My Lovely, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Shampoo
Worst film I have seen: maybe The Stepford Wives, even though that wasn't really all that bad

This was a very tough choice for favorite. I actually had Cuckoo's Nest up first, and in all honesty I was seriously considering Death Race 2000, which is certainly the 1975 film I have watched most often. Yes, more often even than Holy Grail, by gar! But John Huston's epic has to win out for me. It includes one of my favorite exchanges of dialogue in any movie ever, between Sean Connery (Daniel) and Michael Caine (Peachy):

Daniel Dravot: Peachy, I'm heartily ashamed for gettin' you killed instead of going home rich like you deserved to, on account of me bein' so bleedin' high and bloody mighty. Can you forgive me?
Peachy Carnehan: That I can and that I do, Danny, free and full and without let or hindrance.
Daniel Dravot: Everything's all right then.
Man, that's great stuff.

Favorite: Taxi Driver
Runners-up: Carrie, Network, The Omen, Rocky
Great films I have yet to see: All the President's Men, Assault on Precinct 13, Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (another dang '70s Altman film I haven't seen yet!)
Worst film I have seen: probably Bugsy Malone, even though I loved it when I was a child

Very strange that my picks for best and worst feature the same co-star, Jodie Foster. You can't get much more different than those two films. Freaky Friday was also released in 1976. What a weird year that must have been for her!

Favorite: Smokey and the Bandit
Classics (or cult classics) most normal (or even slightly abnormal) people would probably have picked instead: Annie Hall, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Eraserhead, Saturday Night Fever, Star Wars, Suspiria
Other runners-up: The Gauntlet, Kentucky Fried Movie, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown
Great films I have yet to see: Equus, The Goodbye Girl
Worst film I have seen: Exorcist II: The Heretic

This is probably the oddest of all my choices. Objectively speaking, all the classics I named are better than my pick. I mean, I still almost picked Star Wars as my favorite, despite how many times I've knocked it on this blog. Ah, childhood loyalties. But I've seen Bandit more times than all those other films put together (aside from Star Wars, that would be once each), and I'd still rather rewatch it than any of the others. It may be a cheesy cornball, but it's my cheesy cornball. I'm East bound, just watch ol' Bandit run!

Favorite: Superman: The Movie
Runners-up: Animal House, The Deer Hunter, Halloween
Great films I have yet to see: The Boys from Brazil, La Cage aux Folles, Coming Home, Midnight Express, Pretty Baby, An Unmarried Woman
Worst film I have seen: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (but only because I haven't seen Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)

Favorite: Apocalypse Now
Runners-up: Alien, Being There, The Jerk, Mad Max, Monty Python's Life of Brian, The Muppet Movie
Great films I have yet to see: All That Jazz, Breaking Away, The Great Santini, Kramer vs. Kramer, Norma Rae
Worst film I have seen: I think I have to say Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, even though A) at the time, when I was a kid, I totally loved it; B) I am still, and forever will be, totally in love with Erin Gray; and C) it had a totally sextacular intro.

Favorite: The Empire Strikes Back
Runners-up: Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Friday the 13th, Smokey and the Bandit II
Great films I have yet to see: American Gigolo, Coal Miner's Daughter, The Elephant Man
Worst film I have seen: The Gods Must Be Crazy (I know everyone else loved it, but I thought it was awful)

Oh, yeah, Raging Bull also came out this year. But as I've recently mentioned, it's a film I respect, but have never loved.

Favorite: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Runners-up: Arthur, Escape From New York, Stripes, Superman II
Great films I have yet to see: The French Lieutenant's Woman, Pennies From Heaven, Reds
Worst film I have seen: The Cannonball Run (loved it as much as Smokey and the Bandit when I was a kid, but a rewatching a few years back was deeply painful)

Very, very close call between Raiders and Arthur. I'll alert the media. This was also a great year for horror: An American Werewolf in London, The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween II, The Howling, Omen III: The Final Conflict, and Wolfen. Holy crap, dude, that's an awesome roster.

Favorite: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Runners-up: Blade Runner, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, First Blood, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Thing
Great films I have yet to see: Fanny and Alexander, Gandhi, Sophie's Choice, Tootsie, The Year of Living Dangerously
Worst film I have seen: Megaforce

Almost picked Blade Runner instead of E.T.; I've sure seen it a lot more (in all its various incarnations). We're getting to the point in my life now (12 years old) when I was really becoming aware of the vast breadth of cinematic greatness, both current and past, and began expanding my cinematic horizons, theatrically and on cable (and soon, on VCR).

Favorite: A Christmas Story
Runners-up: The Dead Zone, The King of Comedy, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, National Lampoon's Vacation, El Norte, Return of the Jedi, Sudden Impact, Trading Places, Videodrome
Great films I have yet to see: Local Hero, The Outsiders, The Right Stuff
Worst film I have seen: D.C. Cab

EDIT: As Nik pointed out in the comments, I published this post originally without picking a favorite film for 1983. So I went ahead and promoted A Christmas Story from the runners-up list. So there.

Favorite: Ghostbusters
Runners-up: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, Beverly Hills Cop, Blood Simple, Body Double, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Terminator, This Is Spinal Tap
Great films I have yet to see: A Soldier's Story, Under the Volcano
Worst film I have seen: Cannibal Holocaust

Favorite: Ran
Runners-up: After Hours, Back to the Future, Better Off Dead, Brazil, Day of the Dead, Fletch, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Return of the Living Dead, Witness
Great films I have yet to see: The Color Purple, Out of Africa, To Live and Die in L.A.
Worst film I have seen: Red Sonja

A quick note on the perils of relying on Wikipedia: Fletch is not listed on their 1985 in film page. (I only became aware of this when I saw Fletch Lives on the 1989 page, and wondered how I had skipped the original.) There are similar omissions on many, if not all, of their yearly lists. I'm hoping I don't accidentally overlook something major on account of this, but I may.

Favorite: The Fly
Runners-up: Aliens, Blue Velvet, Down By Law, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Little Shop of Horrors, Platoon, ¡Three Amigos!
Great films I have yet to see: Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and Her Sisters
Worst film I have seen: Jumpin' Jack Flash (beginning my lifelong hatred of Whoopi Goldberg, and narrowly edging Howard the Duck and Maximum Overdrive)

Favorite: RoboCop
Runners-up: Bagdad Cafe, Evil Dead II, Full Metal Jacket, The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona, The Untouchables
Great films I have yet to see: Ironweed, The Monster Squad,
Moonstruck, Withnail and I
Worst film I have seen: Burglar (Whoopi Goldberg ruins everything. Ruiner!)

Come on. How could this blog have any other movie as its favorite? But surprisingly, I actually had three other titles in that slot first. I saw the top ten box office chart at the top of the Wikipedia page, and said, "Oh, Untouchables, love that movie," and wrote it in. Then I scrolled down to the full alphabetical listings and hit E. Evil Dead II! Wrote that one in instead. Then I scrolled down further... Princess Bride! But of course! Then I got down to R, and realized that the greatest movie in the history of the universe was released this year, and that was that. Also, I don't know if Monster Squad counts as a great movie, but it's certainly one I've been told I have to see often enough.

And here's where I'm going to cut it off for today. Trust me to take a list that should be 39 lines long and turn in into a novel. I'll post the second half by Monday, if not sooner.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Avatar: A Public Service Announcement

For those few of you readers out there who enjoy the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and who, like me, may have missed some episodes due to the frustratingly disjointed presentation of this third (and final) season -- get your TiVos ready!

This Friday and Saturday, the Nicktoons Network is running marathons of every episode from the third season. (Check your local listings!) And then on Saturday evening, Nickelodeon is airing the two-hour movie finale to the series, Sozin's Comet.


Big post coming tomorrow, promise.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

EW 1000: Books

So, this is a thing, I guess: Entertainment Weekly has put together what they're calling the EW 1000, which allegedly comprises the 1000 best various pop culture items and moments of the past 25 years.

First of all: I've gone over their various lists as enumerated on their website, which include such dubious categories as "25 New Classic Holiday Episodes" and "Sarah Michelle Gellar's 10 New Classic Male TV Characters She Wishes She Could Have Played" (SPOILER ALERT: #1 is Ricky Stratton from Silver Spoons, and #10 is a female character, which means Buffy didn't understand the parameters of her own list), and unless they're still planning on adding stuff, or I miscounted four times in a row (which is possible), they're 50 items short.

Wow, that was a long sentence.

Secondly, they picked a lot of shit. Like, a lot of utter shit. If you have to put Saved By the Bell on a "best of" list of any kind, even a "Best TV Shows With 'Saved,' 'By,' 'The,' And 'Bell' In The Title" list, let alone a "Best TV Shows Of The Past 25 Years" list, you suck eggs.

However, thirdly, and most importantly: I got nothing else going on. So let's look at the Books list.

These are EW's 100 "New Classics" published from 1983 to 2008. I'm gonna bold the ones I've read, italicize the ones I intend to read, and pepper a few notes here and there. I will probably come off as a sub-literate oaf when you see how many great books I've neglected; then again, I've never watched a full episode of Saved By the Bell. So I've got that going for me.

1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
Here's one I actually, for really reals, no foolin', plan on reading very soon. I love Cormac McCarthy. But, despite the awesome power of Oprah and her book club, I'm a little surprised to see this at the very top of the list. (And yes, I do believe this list has been arranged from best to... least best, because it's sure not arranged any other way. And the TV list has The Simpsons, The Sopranos, and Seinfeld as #1-3, and that ain't a random grouping.) So, The Road: best book of the past 25 years, according to Entertainment Weekly. I don't know that I'm necessarily well-armed enough, reading-wise, to dispute that claim. Anyone else want to disagree with it?
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
And is this genuinely supposed to be the #2 greatest book of the past quarter century? Because come on. Is anyone over the age of 12 going to back that one up? That throws this list off the rails right from the git-go. Also: why this particular book, and none of the others? As I've seen other bloggers point out before me, Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series is listed as one item, below; why not include the Harry Potter series as a whole?
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
Read it in college, when it was practically brand new. Yes, I'm that old. This is the Oprah Book Club book I expected to see at the top of this list.
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
I've never even heard of this book. But I used to watch the TV show The Liar's Club all the time when I was a kid. Yes, I'm that old.
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
Never read any Roth.
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
Saw the movie. Does that count?
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
I probably should read something by Munro, but... eh. Can't be bothered.
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
Didn't see the movie. Does that count?
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
Interesting choice. I loved this book. I think this is the last of Murakami's books I've read, though.
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
My brother-in-law really liked this, but I don't know if I would. Let's call it a maybe.
12. Blindness, Jose Saramago (1998)
This is supposed to be amazing. I don't know if I'll ever get around to it, but I hope to give it a shot someday.
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
Nice choice. I'm pleased that at this point, it would be odder not to see it on a list of this kind.
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
Never read any Oates, probably never will. I'll just have to live with that choice.
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
The only one of these authors I've met in person. Great book.
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
It was okay. Can't work up much more enthusiasm than that.
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1988)
One of these days.
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
I've read the first couple of Rabbit books, which were pretty fantastic. I'll get to this one eventually.
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
No interest.
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
This is bizarre. King's non-fiction book about writing/memoir of his near-fatal accident is what makes the list? And not, say, It? Who the hell made this decision? Oh, wait... Stephen King writes a column for EW. Perhaps he was consulted?
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007)
Never heard of it. It won the Pulitzer this year? Well... still not gonna read it.
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
I should've read this by now.
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
Tan gave the commencement speech at my college graduation, but I didn't really meet her, as I did Eggers. Just to clarify.
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
I feel I should want to read this. But I don't.
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
Never heard of it. In fact, I'm gonna skip a few here, about which I can only say, "Never heard of it."
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
I actually have heard of this one. Sounds devastating. Won't ever read it.
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
Maybe I'll see the movie, if Peter Jackson ever makes it.
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
Here's a book a fella of Irish descent like myself really should've read by now. I may one day, but I haven't yet, and I'm about as informed about it as Jim was on The Office. (Toby: "Who's the main character?" Jim: "Angela. No... the ashes.")
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
Slight chance I'll read this, though I have to say I'm not even very interested in seeing the animated film, which I hear is as brilliant as the graphic novel is supposed to be.
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
Boldfaced and italicized because I've read the first two, then stalled out and didn't read the third. But I will.
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
Very cool to see this on here. I've read several of Leonard's books, but not this one yet.
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
This one is harder to classify as a book, singular, than Watchmen or Persepolis, purely because of its size, but I guess if the Dark Materials series can count as a single item, so can this. And it's not like I'm going to begrudge its inclusion, because it's awesome.
47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
If I were going to read anything by Doctorow (and I'm not saying I will), it would definitely be Ragtime ahead of this. I'm sure this is quite good too.
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
Started reading it. Didn't grab me. Put it down.
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
I began this once, and didn't get very far into it. I'll get back to it another time, when I can give it a large portion of my attention.
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
Great pick. One of the saddest books I've ever read.
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carre (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
Wolfe is one of those authors I always intend to get to, but never do. I'll read this, I'm sure.
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
Same thing as Wolfe.
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
Never heard of it, but I like the title.
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
I don't have to read it, I'm living it. Well, not really. Still, I don't have to read it, so I won't.
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
I read something by Amis once. Didn't really care for it.
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
Totally fantastic. Saunders is great. Read this, I command you!
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
This is an odd case: I've read the beginning sequence, which is an amazingly rich and absorbing hundred pages (or so) recounting the Shot Heard 'Round the World. Absolutely loved it. And then I got to the main story, and I lost interest. I've got the book, and I always tell myself I'm going to go back and finish it one day... but I never do.
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
Wait... this makes the list, and not Infinite Jest? (Which, I have to admit, even though I own it, I also have not read... yet.) For its awesome critical reputation, I'd have thought Jest would be in the top ten. Bizarre.
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
This was a great little book. But it reminds me, because I read it immediately afterward: where is Yann Martel's Life of Pi? Is that not a book tailor-made for a list such as this? Odd.
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
I'm not a big fan of Irving's, but maybe it's because I first tried reading one of his books (The World According To Garp) when I was only 12 or so (when the Robin Williams film version of it came out -- I was a Mork fan, and since I wasn't allowed to see the R-rated movie, I wanted to read the story behind it), and really couldn't grasp it very well. I should (and probably will) give this book a shot, but it's not going to be anytime soon.
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
Good movie, good TV show. Don't really feel the need to read the book.
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
I've read a couple of his books, but not this one. I may get to it one day.
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
Maybe the most heartbreakingly beautiful book I've ever read.
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
I read a bunch of McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis in rapid succession back in the early '90s, and have had no desire to revisit either author ever since. Am I missing out on anything?
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
I haven't even seen the movie, though I hear it's excellent.
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
I enjoyed this a great deal.
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
Isn't this the horror book about plants that eat people, basically? It's unfair of me to judge without reading it, but I will: that's stupid.
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
Wonderful book. Though I'd say About a Boy was even better.
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
Really? I've never read anything by him, but... really? Isn't he, like, a Grisham clone? Oh, god, there's no Grisham on here, is there?
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
I'm wouldn't stop eating at McDonald's if Big Macs were made out of people, so this book is wasted on me.
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
Sigh. It's as useless to fight against the inclusion of this dreck on a book list as it is to fight Titanic on a film list.
97. Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
Good movie, but bleak. Call this one a maybe.
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
Oh, man. I hope the book is at least better than that shitty Sandra Bullock movie adaptation.
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)
Sure, it's damn funny, and even politically and culturally insightful, but it feels frivolous to include it on a list of great books of the past 25 years. Then again, Dan Brown made the cut, so never mind.

You folks can probably think of a few more books that should be included here, but aren't. I already came up with a couple -- Life of Pi and Infinite Jest -- and I just thought of a third: The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. Now that it's occurred to me, I'm amazed Rushdie isn't anywhere on the list. Same with Nicholson Baker, who you'd think would've made it, if only for the novelty/controversy, for Vox, or The Fermata. Also, it would've been nice to see something by Steve Erickson on here (take your pick of the many worthy candidates: Rubicon Beach, Tours of the Black Clock, Arc d'X, The Sea Came in at Midnight, Zeroville), though I'm not at all surprised by his absence.

Anything obvious I'm leaving out? Any of these books you want to strongly recommend (or warn me against)? Let it fly in the comments!

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