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Triumphant Return Appendix 1

Bless you lovely people. I had a response from a reader to my previous post asking me which authors made the cut and survived the purge, and which were sent to the Gulag. So, in answer, in alphabetical order here are some of the authors whose books were deemed indispensible.

Paul Auster, Nicholson Baker, John Barth, Thomas Bernhard, T.C. Boyle, Richard Brautigan, Italo Calvino, Jonathan Carroll, Stephen Donaldson, Glen Duncan, Umberto Eco, Tibor Fischer, Richard Flanagan, Joseph Heller, W.F. Hermans, Bohumil Hrabal, Ismail Kadare, John D MacDonald (unread ones), Harry Mulisch, Ryu Murakami (selected), Cees Nooteboom, Viktor Pelevin, Thomas Pynchon, Jon Ronson, Will Self, Natsume Sōseki, Mark Twain, Kurt (and Mark) Vonnegut.

On reflection, I appear to be a serial literary misogynist, or, for the sake of my own vanity, whatever word is next down the taxonomical hierarchy of hate from misogyny. I did have some novels by women, I’m sure, but then they went to charity / the recycling bin so I’m not really able to defend myself with any robustness. I hope this answers your question.
The Voyage of Somebody
The Sailor by John Barth
Tortilla Curtain by Tom Coraghessan Boyle

The Concert by Ismail Kadare
I Am A Cat by
Natsume 
Sōseki
Deep Blue Goodbye
by John D MacDonald



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Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon

Consider if you will that the world was still recovering from what was to them then the Great War, the single most pointless and bloody conflict that man had ever seen. 16 million lives, both combatant and civilian, were lost, and families were indelibly marked for generations to come. So, if, at first, Stapledon's cosmological novel seems a little naive, or rather ridiculous, particularly with his predictions for the immediate political future of Europe, you might forgive him. He was, so I'm told, a committed Marxist and could see nothing good coming from the consumerist capitalism of America and its influence on the old world. In the foreword, Gregory Benford mentions that the unforgiving might like to skip to part five, so as to miss those parts to which one might take offence with the benefit of so stark a hindsight. Part five is where humans are almost totally killed off, for the first time of many.

For this book (novel would seem an odd description given it has no central…

Annihilation: Southern Reach Trilogy 1 by Jeff VanderMeer

Hereward: The Last Englishman by Peter Rex

By all accounts, Hereward was the guerrilla scourge of the invading Norman armies in eleventh century Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, famous for isolating and dismembering members of the Norman nobility who strayed too far from home, and also for trashing Peterborough and hiding on an island. Called variously (and often erroneously) The Wake, The Exile or The Outlaw, his infamy was such that families in search of noble English lineage have usurped his "heroism" for their own glory even until this very day. Rex delights in highlighting one author's particular folly, entitled Hereward, The Saxon Patriot, in which Lieutenant-General Harward attempts to run his antecedents right back to the loins of the eponymous gentleman-rogue. 

Having only read the introduction to Peter Rex's myth-busting (and often ill-edited) work, I was already struck by an initial thought which ran thus: if as Rex asserts Hereward was the son of Asketil Tokison, a descendant of a wealthy Danish family …

Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

The first bad thing I might say about Engleby is that for some reason, it put me in a foul mood; as if by some sort of literary osmosis I had absorbed Michael Engleby’s uniformly critical point of view and had turned it on the world and my unsuspecting wife particularly. She was not a happy bunny. The first good thing I might say is that this didn’t last long, especially as the next book I picked up was a Charles Portis novel which quickly dispelled the gloom. Is this a triumph of the suspension of disbelief, of verisimilitude, of getting the reader to buy into the character? Or is it simply because the only point of view we get for 350 pages is that of “Toilet” Engleby himself? It’s hard not to warm to him even if you don’t like him or his fairly stiff opinions, and that must be a victory for Faulks. His protagonist protests that his memory is spotty – spotty enough that the major crisis in the novel is not really uncovered (officially – the twist was so obvious I guessed it from read…