What should I read?
September 23, 2009 5:57 PM   Subscribe

I absolutely loved the last two books I've read - Straight Man by Richard Russo and The Crow Road by Iain Banks...what should I read next?

I'm a pretty slow reader, and tend to get frustrated with books that don't blow me away. As someone who LOVED Straight Man and The Crow Road, what would you recommend I pick up next?

I guess the common thread here is a story about family, with a funny & witty central character?

Authors & books I've already explored:
Jonathan Franzen
Donald Antrim
Stephen Fry
other Russo

posted by pilibeen to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Glue, by Irvine Welsh
posted by pompomtom at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2009

I haven't read the two main books you mentioned, but I have read the first four authors on your list.

I guess the common thread here is a story about family, with a funny & witty central character?

Middlesex is an obvious recommendation here.
posted by dfan at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2009

Russell Banks perhaps. For some reason his books always seemed style-wise a lot like Russo's to me.
posted by kbuxton at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2009

Try Richard Ford and John Irving.
posted by carmicha at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2009

Keep reading Richard Russo. Empire Falls got a Pulitzer. Also, Nobody's Fool is fantastic. The other books he's written - sadly, meh.
posted by Sully at 6:32 PM on September 23, 2009

Oh, just read that you've already explored other Russo. Sorry.
posted by Sully at 6:32 PM on September 23, 2009

Loved Straight Man too.

Not fiction, but Bill Bryson really cracks me up.

Kyle Smith's "Love Monkey" was pretty funny as well (witty main character).

Nick Hornby (I really only enjoyed High Fidelity, truth be told), and Tom Robbins might be worth looking into.

I'm thinking of embarking on some Jonathan Ames, but haven't quite decided where to start.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:43 PM on September 23, 2009

seconding Nobody's Fool. I loved Straight Man, but Nobody's Fool takes the cake.

Also, right now The Millions is running a series on the 20 best books of the last ten years (of the millennium in more grandiose terms). It might be worth perusing.
posted by farishta at 6:59 PM on September 23, 2009

The Epicure's Lament, or, The Great Man, by Kate Christensen
posted by OmieWise at 7:17 PM on September 23, 2009

Nobody's Fool is my favorite book.

Cold Mountain
Snow Falling on Cedars
posted by sully75 at 7:40 PM on September 23, 2009

everything by Charles Baxter is great - he writes both novels and short stories.
posted by DuckGirl at 9:27 PM on September 23, 2009

What should I read next
posted by Lullen at 9:43 PM on September 23, 2009

I quite enjoyed Jonathon Coe's "Rotters Club" and "What a Carve up". Funny, dark, fresh, good.
posted by philip-random at 11:24 PM on September 23, 2009

"Espedair Street" by Iain Banks is very good, like "The Crow Road" another funny/serious realist book partly set in Scotland.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:20 AM on September 24, 2009

Not all books are good. Nancy Pearl, a librarian so famous there is an action figure (with shushing action), suggests that you read a hundred pages minus your age and if you aren't into the book, just put it down.
posted by mearls at 5:40 AM on September 24, 2009

Seconding TheophileEscargot on "Espedair Street". "Dead Air" by the same author is in a similar vein (but with a bit less family stuff), set in London and a wee bit darker (but still very funny in places). Also by him and set in Scotland (and a whole lot darker is) "Complicity". The rest of his (non-sci-fi) ouvre is not quite as succesful, IMHO, but YMMV...
posted by Chairboy at 6:41 AM on September 24, 2009

You might like Kate Atkinson. "Human Croquet" and "Emotionally Weird" are my favorites of hers. They are funny in the same way that "Straight Man" is.
posted by apricot at 7:40 AM on September 24, 2009

I'd agree with carmicha on Irving, but would probably refine that to middle-period Irving (Garp, Hotel New Hampshire, A Prayer for Owen Meany--the latter especially). I don't know later Irving as well, although I did like The Fourth Hand.

You might like Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:06 AM on September 24, 2009

"Nude Men: A Novel," by Amanda Filipacchi. It's a first novel, not without its flaws, and not in the same league as "Straight Man" (few books are, IMHO). But aside from Straight Man, it's the most laugh-out-loud funny "real book" that I can think of.

(By "real book" I mean something like "serious fiction," except that "serious" would be very much the wrong word.)

Just noticed the weird similarity of the titles (Nude Men/Straight Man), which is a total coincidence. The title "Nude Men" does make for some unfortunately awkward subway reading, though.
posted by anonymice at 1:47 PM on September 24, 2009

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
and Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

I think any of these will satisfy what you're looking for in unexpected ways.
posted by amillionbillion at 11:19 PM on September 25, 2009

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