Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ten books that rewrite history

Peter Dimock is the author of the novel, George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time.

For Publishers Weekly, he came up with ten "works of literature, written or published between the 1927 and 2001, whose authors seem intent upon jolting their readers into radical distrust of the conventional history that they had been given through which to experience their present," including:
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

This is twentieth-century American history narrated from the perspective of a member of the community whose labor created the country and whose historical experience in the New World could provide the knowledge of the nature of modernity that might allow twentieth-century democracy to survive. But the narrator is also someone whom most of his fellow citizens simply refuse to see (and who are not consciously aware of this refusal). At the beginning of the novel the reader finds the narrator living underground listening to Louis Armstrong’s recording of “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue.” The lyrics of the last verse go, “How will it end...Ain't got a friend/My only sin...Is in my skin/What did I do...To be so/ Black and blue?” The narrator comments, “This ordinary music demanded action of the kind of which I was incapable, and yet, had I lingered there beneath the surface I might have attempted to act. Nevertheless, I know now that few really listen to this music.”
Read about another novel on the list.

Invisible Man comes in second on the list of the 100 best last lines from novels; it appears among five novels that explore the dark side in New York City, Peter Forbes's top ten books on color, Joyce Hackett's top ten musical novels, Sam Munson's six best stoner novels, and John Mullan's list of ten of the best nameless protagonists in literature.

--Marshal Zeringue