Book recommendations: Zadie-Smith-ish, but not Pynchonesque.
October 13, 2012 11:28 AM Subscribe
I'm currently loving
Zadie Smith. For various reasons, I don't like most of the authors she tends to get compared to. (DeLillo and Pynchon give me hives. Rushdie and Nabokov are just okay. Etc.) Who else should I read?
posted by nebulawindphone to media & arts (36 answers total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
1) I love me a big sprawling larger-than-life self-referential postmodern romp. David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon, Umberto Eco, Gabriel García Marquez, that sort of thing. Even Robert Anton Wilson if I start to get desperate. The Neverending Story was my favorite book as a kid. You get the idea.
2) I also love good old-fashioned psychologically insightful character writing. Characters who are just gimmicks, bundles of quirks and neuroses, walking plot hooks, or giant poster-sized Literary Symbols, all sort of bore me. A good ear for dialogue is also important. Some favorites in this department: Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh, maybe also Salinger in his short stories before he went off the deep end. (It's honestly really hard to find authors who satisfy me on this point. Apparently I'm sort of a snob.)
But note that most of the authors I mentioned under #1 aren't really known for #2, and vice versa. The great thing about Zadie Smith is that she combines those two qualities, and really excels at both of them. Granted, that's not an easy thing to do. But I'm looking for other authors who manage to pull it off.
Two other caveats, to make things complicated: I don't like snideness or cynicism (which rules out DeLillo completely) or depressive self-flagellation (which Wallace hard to take, though I am a fan). And I really absolutely can't stand deliberately cryptic or tricky prose, no matter how beautiful it sounds and no matter how certain you are that I'd learn to love it if I just gave it a chance (ruling out Pynchon and the otherwise-ideal Nabokov).
What should I read next?