Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is author Richard Hine, whose debut novel Russell Wiley Is Out to Lunch — a corporate satire set in the New York media industry — was one of the first original manuscripts to be acquired and published by AmazonEncore. I reviewed it last month and found it a fast-paced, hugely comic read.
Richard’s fiction has previously appeared in numerous literary publications, including London Magazine and Brooklyn Review. He is also a winner of and two-time finalist in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, and an interview of him appears in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Book.
Richard was born in London, but has lived in New York City for more than 20 years. Do visit his official website, which is a wonderful spoof on a traditional newspaper, for further information.
Without further ado, here’s Richard’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
As a teenager in England I read mainly contemporary fiction. I devoured horror stories by Stephen King, James Herbert and others. I couldn’t get enough comic fiction like The World According to Garp and Catch-22. But nothing quite prepared me for Henry Fielding.
I read Joseph Andrews when I was 20. I was blown away. Not least by the thought that the book was nearly 250 years old. I loved everything about it – from the detailed descriptions in the Table of Contents to the bawdiness of the plot, to all the authorial tangents and social commentary Fielding packed in. Not having read many 18th or 19th century novels at the time, I was amazed at how contemporary it felt—which is probably the same as saying that I, like Joseph Andrews, had grown up a bit too oblivious to the hypocrisy, manipulation and mendaciousness of the world.
The book is filled with memorable characters, not just Joseph and Parson Adams, but also Lady Booby, Madam Slipslop and Joseph’s true love, Fannie. It’s fantastic, picaresque, thought-provoking, and everyone should read it! I enjoyed Fielding’s Tom Jones, too, but it couldn’t quite live up to Joseph Andrews for me.
By the time I read The Remains of the Day I had lived in New York for a couple of years, so I was still suffering from residual culture shock—and becoming more and more immersed in American media. This was a novel that shook me up on many levels. I just thought it was brilliantly written and incredibly psychologically perceptive. I could really relate to the whole notion of clinging to a delusion of Englishness. Most of all, though, I think I was ready to receive the message that it’s really possible for people to live an entire life believing in something, investing all their hopes and dreams, all their sense of purpose and self-worth, into something that’s just a made-up fantasy. Of course, we now know from scientific studies that people who are more realistic about the world are more inclined to depression, so perhaps there’s something to be said for some forms of delusion.
I only started reading Muriel Spark after reading her New York Times obituary in 2006, which made her sound like a very interesting person as well as a writer worth reading. Also, my girlfriend Amanda Filipacchi’s novels are often compared to Muriel Spark’s, and because she doesn’t write them fast enough, I had to find something else to read. I read of few of Spark’s novels before The Ballad of Peckham Rye. It became my favorite of hers not just because of the way it satirizes the British class system (which I always enjoy), but because the character of Dougal Douglas (a.k.a Douglas Dougal) is more than just devilishly immoral. He’s quite possibly the devil himself.
Thanks, Richard, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
I’ve not read any of them, although The Remains of the Day is in my To Be Read pile, where it’s been sitting for about five years! I’ve read a handful of Spark’s novels and really enjoyed them, but I do feel the need to ration them out. I don’t want to be in the position where I have no more Spark novels left to read! Mind you, perhaps it’s now time I dust off my Penguin Modern Classics edition of The Ballad of Peckham Rye that’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a year or two.
What do you think of Richard’s choices? Have you read any of these books?