Books like The Good Soldier
May 23, 2020 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I am listening to the audio book of Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier for the second time in as many months - can you help me find more books like this?

What I like:
  1. Unreliable Narrator - you can't trust John Dowell's version of events
  2. Non-linear story line - the story moves back and forward, sometimes abruptly, sometimes rambling. It requires attention to track what's going on (which is probably part of why I'm listening again)
  3. Not contemporary - I'm not really interested in anything set too close to our current hellhole timeframe
  4. No graphic violence / sex - that's one of the things I love about old books in general
What else might I like?
posted by hilaryjade to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You might like Denis Johnson's Train Dreams, which fits except for the unreliable narrator. One of my alltime favorites. The audiobook comes with the book for Jesus' Son, which fits all your criteria except 4, though it's only a few sentences here and there and not "graphic" -- and it's short stories (with the same character unreliably narrating each).
posted by dobbs at 12:24 PM on May 23, 2020

Also, which version of the Good Soldier is it you're listening to? The Gildart Jackson or some other?
posted by dobbs at 12:30 PM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes, Gildart Jackson from the library. It is amaaaaaaaaazing.
posted by hilaryjade at 12:47 PM on May 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Though it is very, very different from The Good Soldier in every way, Walker Percy's The Moviegoer might be a good place to go next. Percy's later novels are less perfect but much stranger, and their narrators are even more unreliable.
posted by neroli at 3:02 PM on May 23, 2020

Best answer: See "Unreliable Narrators," six years ago in AskMe, especially the fourth answer (from me!)
posted by ubiquity at 3:57 PM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, and something I hadn't read six years ago: the narrator of Alain-Fournier's classic (and only) novel, Le Grand Meaulnes. The book is widely available in English, but no one can figure out how to translate the title so it is often left untranslated.
posted by ubiquity at 4:14 PM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Have you read Pale Fire?
posted by babelfish at 5:29 PM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The late Umberto Eco wrote a couple that I enjoyed. The Island of the Day Before and Baudolino, both have complex historical elements and are non-linear. Baudolino is, himself ,the archetypal unreliable narrator.

John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor is also excellent. Pretty linear I remember, but a worthwhile journey.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:21 PM on May 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

and YES! Pale Fire!
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:22 PM on May 23, 2020

Best answer: Kazuo Ishiguro's "The Remains Of The Day" features an unreliable narrator, a butler in pre-WWII Britain whose ruminations about his life reveal more than than he suspects. "Pale Fire" is one of my favorite novels and I'll re-read it several more times, I hope! It's a unique puzzle of a novel, probably Nabokov's best.
posted by Agave at 8:43 PM on May 23, 2020

Response by poster: I'm listening to The Very Private Gentleman (now renamed The American) by Martin Booth and so far it is also scratching this unreliable narrator itch nicely.
posted by hilaryjade at 3:07 PM on July 25, 2020

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