Good Fiction Guide Paperback – Aug 4 2005
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Reading is like a huge treasure hunt. Every book leads to another title. The Good Fiction Guide, which lists 5,000 different books by over 1,100 authors--from Achebe and Adams to Zelazny and Zola--provides useful extra sign posts. And because its subject is fiction--not literature- it ranges eclectically from Henry to Helen Fielding and from Anthony to Joanna Trollope. Thirty-four jargon-free essays by literary cognoscenti include Adele Geras writing entertainingly about teen novels, John Sutherland is informative on classics and Mike Harris thoughtful about war. Film adaptations, Western, and magic realism are among other topics covered. The alphabetical author listings give biographical details and an assessment of output followed by helpful cross-referencing. Below the John Creasey entry, for example, are listed Ed McBain, John Harvey and Colin Dexter to point the way through crime writing. If you like Dickens, try Thackeray, Dostoevsky, George Eliot and Peter Carey. Inevitably there are strange omissions. It's curious that children's author Philip Pullman is included but not Harry Potter's creator JK Rowling. Odd, too, that there is no mention of Paul Scott's The Jewel in the Crown or EM Forster's A Passage to India in the India essay. "Each essayist's "top twelve" is entirely his or her own choice," writes editor Jane Rogers. "I've rejoiced to find favourite books recommended, been outraged by the omission of equally good writers and been tempted into entirely new areas of fiction by the enthusiasm of essayists." --Susan Elkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Another intriguing addition to Oxford's collection of literary guides, this resource for the general reader offers information contributed by 60 writers, critics, and translators in two formats: 34 four-page subject essays and more than 1000 alphabetically arranged, paragraph-length author entries covering 5000 books. Certainly, it is similar to other Oxford handbooks, such as Margaret Drabble's The Oxford Companion to English Literature (LJ 10/15/00) and Peter Parker's A Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers (LJ 7/96). This reference, however, is unique in that it encompasses popular and genre fiction for both adults and teens, as well as classics, contemporary literature, and international works translated into English. Because selection is based on reader enjoyment, authors are included only if their books are well known, strong sellers, in print, and recommended by the contributors. The essays explore a wide range of topics, from the science fiction of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Richard Hoban's Riddley Walker, and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale to a literary/geographical analysis of French writing and the progression of the adventure story from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Authors were chosen for their specialized knowledge and thus conclude with their Top 12 recommendations. The informal style and inclusion of personal details about the authors' lives create a livelier, more engaging source than standard companions. Highly recommended for literature collections. Marilyn Rosenthal, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book has two main sections.
The first is a series of essays by leading writers in various fields. So Michael Dibdin writes on Crime, Lee Clark Mitchell on Westerns with other essays on other genres and also major countries of fiction such as America, France etc. Each essayist picks 12 examples of the finest books in each field.
These short essays are very useful as introductions to a field or area of writing and point you in the right direction for further reading.
The second section is an A-Z listing of over 1,000 authors with short biographical details and suggested reading.
Taken together these elements make for a most informative guide which I have found very useful to increase my reading and I am sure other lovers of books will find likewise.
There are some glaring ommisions - no Haruki Murakami?! - and some of the entries can be a bit snobbish but overall there is a good balance.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Nonetheless, the editors should be commended for highlighting a good deal of world literature, with essays devoted to: Africa, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, The Caribbean, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Russia, and the U.S. However, other than this particular coverage, readers should be aware that the authors and titles selected for mention have a very strong British emphasis. Authors were only included if they are well-known (in Britain), in print, or seminal to a particular topic or genre. However, while most selections may be available in the UK, some may be much harder to track down elsewhere.
The remaining two-thirds of the book are small biographies of 1,000+ authors, with indications as to their key works, and three "similar" writers. For example, if you like Nick Hornby, try Roddy Doyle, Kingsly Amis, or J.D. Salinger. On the whole, an attractive, accessible book to dip into to get some ideas of new stuff to read, but hardly the last word on the topic.
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