Monday, December 16, 2019

Six favorite books recommended by Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín's novels include The Blackwater Lightship; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections, and Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know, a look at three nineteenth-century Irish authors. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

At The Week magazine he recommended six of his favorite books, including:
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (1915).

The genius of this novel is in the tone of voice and the structure. The book has a lovely, breathless, natural feel, like someone trying to put a shape on experience that is both deeply sad and almost comic, or at least infused with irony and a sort of dark laughter. It dramatizes the change from a moment when character in England could be trusted to a moment when all truth had to be questioned and when deception itself became an art.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Good Soldier also appears on Stanley Fish's list of six essential reads, Carrie V Mullins's list of eleven of the least reliable narrators in literature, Piers Paul Read's top ten list of novels about unfaithful wives, Jean Hanff Korelitz's top six list of her favorite books about failed marriages, Penelope Lively's six favorite books list, John Mullan's lists of ten of the best spas in literature, ten of the best failed couplings in literature, and ten great novels with terrible original titles, and on the Guardian's list of ten of the best unconsummated passions in fiction and Adam Haslett's list of the five best novelists on grief. One line from the novel appears among Stanley Fish's top five sentences.

The Page 99 Test: The Good Soldier.

--Marshal Zeringue