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Which writer do you think is best with narrative pull?

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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:50 PM
Original message
Which writer do you think is best with narrative pull?
Oh let's see... Professor Tolkien, John Grisham, Dashiell Hammett, John Le Carre, Andrew Vachss, that Hemingway guy, Carl Hiaasen.

Criteria? You skip meals, you don't sleep, you can't. put. the book. down. Know anybody who writes like that? Before you say, "I've read _____ and he didn't do anything for me," you should probably at least have some nodding interest in the genre they're working in. For instance, if you don't like fantasy, it's kind of silly to say, "I don't know what you're talking about. I tried to read 'The Lord of the Rings' and couldn't get into it at all."

The best narrative pull I ever encountered in any single book was "Ghost Story" by Peter Straub, but I have since read some of his other works and they were all bilge, right down to repeating some of the same plot devices and scares. I just read "Neuromancer" finally and twenty years late; Gibson's pretty good at that narrative pull stuff, too. But I have to give the nod to Vachss. He's been phoning 'em in more and more in recent years, but mediocre Vachss is still better than great almost anybody else, at least in the area of pull. So... whatchathink?

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ceile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
1. A couple
Stephen King, but only about every third book. Sometimes he really looses me. I couldn't put down Misery or Dolores Claiborne.
John Le Carre rocks. I can't wait to read his latest The Mission Song.
And sometimes PD James can grab me and hold tight, but at others I find her descriptions a bit tedious.
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:01 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Don't wait; it may be the best thing he's ever written
or at least the best-written one in decades. I posted as much here when I finished it, to a thunderous chorus of crickets.
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ceile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 04:01 PM
Response to Reply #2
32. Thanks for the push.
I may go get it this weekend. Better than "The Constant Gardner"? I know a lot of people who couldn't get through it, but I loved it.
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Avalux Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. Tolkein did it for me.
Spent an entire summer indoors when I was 14 - finished the trilogy - couldn't stop. My mother thought I was crazy.
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I've read the dang thing dozens of times-- still gets me
even though I have large segments memorized. (Well it did; I haven't read it in a few years, but it was at least an annual event for a couple of decades there.)
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:12 PM
Response to Original message
5. I like fantasy
B8t Jesus Christ, LOTR was a struggle.
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reyd reid reed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:17 PM
Response to Original message
6. James Patterson sometimes...
Carl Hiaasen. Sometimes King. I'm not thrilled with Grisham, although I've read a few of his that I've enjoyed. I can't say that there's any ONE author that does it for me each and every time...every one of them has their highs and lows...the highs are incredible and the lows are dreck...but it all averages out in the end.

Hopefully.

Oh...and Sue Monk Kidd for lit fic. I have to confess to just finding myself pulled in on the strength of the language alone. I could wallow in it sometimes.

I do wallow in it sometimes.



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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:17 PM
Response to Original message
7. Delillo
Ever read "Libra"? Freakin' amazing. Over-simplified, it's the JFK killing told through the eyes of Oswald and Ruby, through this device where a "secret history" government researcher has total access.

Kept me from getting up to pee more than once. That's good stuff. :D
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 07:19 AM
Response to Reply #7
15. No, my DeLillo-obsessed friend was completely insane
I could never figure out which was cause and which was effect, so to be on the safe side I just avoided reading any DeLillo. Gotta fix that one of these days.
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Starbucks Anarchist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:19 PM
Response to Original message
8. James Ellroy.
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idgiehkt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
9. wow, you included Grisham
I think he's great at this. Most of his books were all-nighters for me. The worst case of this I ever had was reading "Girl in a Swing" by Richard Adams, just because it was so freaking weird. I still don't think I know what happened.
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. It's probably been a few years since this was the case...
but it's been a few years since I've been to the beach, too. Back then, you could walk down a beach for miles and not see anyone reading anything but John Grisham. This is kind of an argument that the guy produces page-turners (or maybe just that his books are big enough to make good eye shades. :)) Anyway, I liked the ones that I read, except for The Pelican Brief.
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idgiehkt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:11 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. I only saw that movie
I don' think I read that but I could be wrong. The movie was just complete Julia Roberts overkill. It's like, yeah, she's pretty, we get it...next scene, next scene.
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Withywindle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 11:07 PM
Response to Original message
10. I know who's the worst!
Jenkins & LaHaye, those 'Left Behind' freaks. Takes two people to write a book that bad, I guess. It's like trying to jog when you're up to your knees in wet cement.
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Phillycat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:37 PM
Response to Reply #10
26. I don't know, I would put Jodi Picault up there.
Slog, slog, SLOG! Blergh.
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asthmaticeog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 11:10 PM
Response to Original message
11. This is way dorky, but...
the first time I read "Infinite Jest" I put my entire social life on hold for the damn thing. Once you get past the first 100 or so pages and the conceptual threads start to coalesce and make a kind of sense, it's a serious page-turner, and often funny as hell, too.
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RetroLounge Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 11:17 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Are you sure?
I always thought it was more of a dare...

as in, I dare you to finish this book.

I never have...

RL
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Broken_Hero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 11:19 PM
Response to Original message
13. Stephen King, Glen Cook, RA Salvatore,
Tom Clancy, Anne Rice....for starters...Troy Denning... :)
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swag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
14. Vladimir Nabokov, Mary Gaitskill, Christian Shapiro
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
17. Elmore Leonard. His 'street' dialogue puts you there.
What an ear.
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Ok, trof, I'll give him a third try
I read "Touch" and "Gold Coast," I think. Might have been "Glitz," I dunno, maybe all three. Not that they were bad or anything; I just can't remember a single word, nor did I ever have any wish to read them again, both of which are unusual for me. But I went down to the $1 bookstore and picked up "Pagan Babies." We'll see how that one goes.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #19
31. google his early stuff too.
Edited on Tue Oct-24-06 04:02 PM by trof
Started out writing westerns.
Did you know he wrote "Mr. Majestic"?
Charles Bronson was in the movie.

Then wrote Detroit crime novels. He was a police reporter there.
When got successful and moved to FL he wrote about crime there. Often with a humorous bent.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 12:27 PM
Response to Original message
18. I like Tolkien as much as the next guy.
But LOTR starts off really boring. It really gets going later, but I understand why people say he's hard to get into.

Stephen King for me is that author that starts off right away and you can't put down.
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XNASA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:15 PM
Response to Original message
21. Henry Miller
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XNASA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:15 PM
Response to Original message
22. Oops. Delete.
Edited on Tue Oct-24-06 03:15 PM by XNASA
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Richardo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
23. Michael Connelly
I read "Echo Park" so fast I had to intentionally ration the last few chapters one at a time to make the fun of reading it last. Quite the quandry, I tell you.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:21 PM
Response to Original message
24. I so have to agree with "Ghost Story"! I often use that as an example
of a book that one cannot put down. The first hundred or so pages were kinda boring, but holy shit, once the story gets moving it's unstoppable!

I'm glad someone else knows that book!

Others with great narrative pull are:

David Eddings

Hemingway

Twain

Douglas Adams

Dan Brown (yeah, I know, not a great story constructer, but he does write in an insane page-turner kind of way)

Neil Stephenson

Saul Bellow

JK Rowling

Bruce Feiler

and the woman who wrote "Secret Life of Bees"
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #24
35. When introducing people to the Hitchhiker's Guide, I have to warn them
to stop while they're still laughing. Eventually, his pull compels you to want to go on, but you're all laughed out, so you don't get all the enjoyment you could. This is certainly what happened to me the first time I read the series.

The insidious thing about Ghost Story and Straub's narrative pull is that once he keeps you reading until after dark, he's got you, and then you have to sleep with the lights on for the next six months. Or maybe that's just me.
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Phillycat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
25. Embarassing answer, but Stephen King and JK Rowling
Carry-them-to-the-bathroom-with-me books. And prop-up-on-the-kitchen-counter-while-I'm-trying-to-cook books. Also Gregory Maguire. And The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Read that in a day.
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Richardo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. Me too! Finished 'Curious Incident' in one day.
You'll like Mark Haddon's new one - 'A Spot of Bother'. A more traditional novel, but still funny. That one took me a few weeks - was not as not-put-downable.
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anarch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:40 PM
Response to Original message
27. Charles Willeford
I'm a fan of the Hoke Moseley novels in particular. If you like crime/detective stories, you owe it to yourself to read Willeford. Absolutely amazingly good stuff. :thumbsup:
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khashka Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
29. Neil Gaiman
I'm rereading Sandman and American Gods. And I love Babycakes.

Colette - what she writes is so beautiful and it drags you in......

Iain M. Banks - a little too violent for me, but a brilliant writer. (I want a knife missile!)

Erica Jong - Any Woman's Blues is brilliant.

H.P. Lovecraft, Kate Orman, Paul Cornell, Tom Robbins, Ursula K. Leguin, Pat Murphy (The City Not Long After is amazing - fighting violence with art), Elizabeth Hand, Connie Willis, Sheri Tepper.........


Khash.
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
30. Gabriel Garcia Marquez...
Edited on Tue Oct-24-06 03:58 PM by SteppingRazor
he's the master. 100 Years of Solitude is like 500 pages long, but it flows so perfectly that it seems more like 50



On edit: Oh, and now that you've read Neuromancer, read Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive -- quickly! Chop chop! ;)
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Bossy Monkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #30
37. The thing about Gibson is...
that my first experience with him was hearing Virtual Light on tape, which was perfectly magical. I also read Pattern Recognition earlier this year. I'd rather hear his books on tapes or cd on the whole, but I never seem to have the gigantic blocks of listening time available anymore. (Also, whether or not I could find a couple of almost 20 year old books on tape is an open question.) But I'll try to track 'em down in whatever format.
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #37
38. The Neuromancer trilogy, though, should definitely be read together...
It's great how he ties everything together. Neuromancer and Count Zero have nothing to do with each other, and then Mona Lisa Overdrive ties them both together in an amazing way.

That's all I'm sayin' :hi:
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ceile Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 04:12 PM
Response to Original message
33. Some more for me....
Frank Herbert-I spent a whole summer reading nothing but the "Dune" series.
Love Thomas Hardy ("Mayor of Castor Bridge" and "Tess of the Durbervilles" are probably 2 of the best books ever written IMO) and EM Forster
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khashka Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #33
34. Cool!
Thomas Hardy and EM Forster? Great taste! Have you read Trollope? Barchester Towers is great!.

A couple more from me: Fay Weldon - The Heart of The Country is one of the best books I've ever read. And John Varley's Steel Beach is wonderful.

Khash.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-24-06 10:56 PM
Response to Original message
36. Joan Didion in fiction and nonfiction. n/t
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Z_I_Peevey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-25-06 11:47 AM
Response to Original message
39. Recently, Rilla Askew.
"Fire in Beulah" in particular was impossible for me to put down.
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