Author(s): Charles McGrath
A chronological guide to 250 of the finest fictional books written this century, which considers contemporary as well as current criticism.
A 1924 appreciation of A Passage to India (page 53)
"One of the saddest, keenest, most beautifully written ironic novels of the time. Saying so much one is forced to say much more, for Mr. Forster's quality is unique."
Dick Schaap's 1969 first impression of Mario Puzo's The Godfather (page 266)
"There are strong similarities between Michael Corleone and Alexander Portnoy. Neither . . . wishes to enter his father's line of work. Each . . . falls for a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant girl. Of course, there are some differences, too. When Alexander Portnoy's father is frustrated, he gets constipated; when Michael Corleone's father is frustrated, he gets someone killed."
From Leslie Fiedler's 1974 essay on Tarzan (page 286)
"It is hard to think of Tarzan without thinking of one's own childhood. Yet that immortal myth of the abandoned child of civilization who survives to become Lord of the Jungle was not written for children at all--as I keep explaining to my 9-year-old son whenever he snatches from my desk the volume I am currently reading."
A segment of Philip Roth's 1984 interview with Edna O'Brien (page 380)
PR: "What has Joyce meant to you . . . how intimidating is it for an Irish writer to have as precursor this great verbal behemoth?"
EO: "In the constellation of geniuses, he is a blinding light and father of us all. . . .Ulysses is the most diverting, brilliant, intricate and unboring book that I have ever read. I can pick it up at any time, read a few pages and feel that I have just had a brain transfusion."