Suggest me some great (but not overt) combinations to read together.
February 18, 2013 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Last week I read David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (thanks to this FPP), while in the middle of reading Moby Dick. I found them resonating together so well: the high tragedy mixed with low comedy, the elaborate descriptive asides, the playing with formatting, the casual authorial self-hatred, the obsession with morality, to say nothing of the mechanics of the ship and the sea. All this without a single over reference back to Melville. What are some other great co-reads (or movies/TV/opera/album/etc.) to get that enriching resonance? Subtle is good: think tone, theme, shape more than plot or character. If you've caught Laurence Weschler's McSweeney's series of Convergences (published in book form here), that's more what I mean. The reader/viewer makes the connections without being led by the author (So, for instance, King Lear & Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres are too overtly linked). Bonus points for something that goes well with Cloud Atlas (the book, not the movie).
posted by rikschell to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Office Space and Fight Club are a 1999 comedy and tragedy about white-collar male ennui. I found them a satisfying thematic combination.
posted by purpleclover at 7:38 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's a self-link but I recently wrote about just such a connection between Iris Murdoch and Frederick Exley, with many of the same elements you noticed in Melville/Wallace.

A couple more good film combos would be The Apartment / Breakfast at Tiffany's and Born to be Bad (1950) / Darling (1965), possibly with All About Eve thrown into that second group too...
posted by pete_22 at 7:48 AM on February 18, 2013

Probably too overt, but Fielding's Tom Jones and Voltaire's Candide have always seemed to me to be parodies of one another in completely different writing styles. I was assigned them at about the same time and took great joy in this.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:59 AM on February 18, 2013

The Great War and Modern Memory with Downton Abbey or Fall of Giants or The Bolter. I was reading The Bolter and Fall of Giants for a book club, and used The Great War and Modern Memory for a reality check. But really, don't inflict The Fall of Giants on yourself; you could even read Nancy Mitford instead.

On a much smaller scale, Daisy Miller and Roman Fever.

The Wings of the Dove and The House of Stairs by Barbara Vine.
posted by BibiRose at 8:08 AM on February 18, 2013

How close can they be? It is widely recognized that the movie Strange Brew is a (masterful!) retelling of Hamlet, but there is no recognition of that in the movie.

Is that too close for you, given that there's no common dialogue, and that Shakespere never wrote the line, "My brother and I used to say that drowning in beer was like heaven, eh? Now he's not here, and I got two soakers... This isn't heaven, this sucks!"?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:29 AM on February 18, 2013

Quite by accident, I'm reading Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs" alongside Terry Pratchett's "Unseen Academicals" and there are resonances between the authors' observations about crowds and sporting identity.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:41 AM on February 18, 2013

The Double Helix / Paradise Lost
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:53 AM on February 18, 2013

The Killer's "Hot Fuss" goes well with "Slaughterhouse Five." Something about the tempo meshes well with the war scene. I read/listened to them together when the album first came our and I still have a strong association of one with the other.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:00 AM on February 18, 2013

Maybe this combo is too obvious, but what about Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, Joseph O'Neill's Netherland and The Great Gatsby?
posted by cellura p at 9:20 AM on February 18, 2013

My book club recently did Perks of Being a Wallflower and Catcher in the Rye. That might be too obvious though.

My trifecta of quasi-religious satire: Douglas Adam's Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, Gaiman/Pratchett's Good Omens, and then Pratchett's Small Gods. You could probably throw Gaiman's American Gods in there as a hot swap.
posted by librarianamy at 9:38 AM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Shakespeare's "The Tempest", alongside Eliot's "The Waste Land", alongside Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49".
posted by rocketman at 9:45 AM on February 18, 2013

For Cloud Atlas, you might want to try Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis.
It probably meshes best with the Cavendish sections, and it's funnier than CA, but worth a go.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:13 AM on February 18, 2013

Bastard Out of Carolina and True Grit have some interesting mutual resonances.
posted by OmieWise at 10:57 AM on February 18, 2013

Maybe the novella "Hardfought" by Greg Bear? And "Villette" by Charlotte Bronte? I love Cloud Atlas.
posted by Malla at 11:22 AM on February 18, 2013

For Cloud Atlas: The Windup Girl
Also Infinite Jest and Tristram Shandy: a Cock and Bull Story
posted by angrycat at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2013

Barbara Browning's I'm Trying to Reach You and Paul Auster's City of Glass. Both are mysteries that aren't really like the mystery genre, both are set in New York (though in different eras), and both are sort of dreamy, meditative, and discursive in all the right ways. The books have nothing to do with each other really, but I read them back-to-back, coincidentally (OR WAS IT), and the resonance was really powerful. I'm not a mystery person generally, but both books are more about the psychology of observation, and what watching and being watched do to us, particularly in the context of urban living.
posted by Charity Garfein at 12:28 PM on February 18, 2013

The Secret History by Donna Tartt and The Likeness by Tana French.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:53 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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