Monday, October 23, 2006

What Book Do You Wish You Had Written?

Ok, time for another poll. Today's question is: What book do you wish you had written?

I'm not just talking about the most successful books ever (so Harry Potter, THe Bible, and THE DA VINCI CODE are off limits). And no KaavyaGate jokes either.

What book, after finishing it, made you wish you had the talent and ability to write such a masterpiece?

My personal choice is Dennis Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER. It's simply one of the most harrowing and beautiful books I've ever read, and takes the crime drama to unheard of heights (and depths), with characters that resonate, a slambang plot, and the kind of ending that's both incredibly satisfying but makes you want to read more. It's the kind of book that I can only dream of writing one day.

So what book, after putting it down, made you think, "I wish I had written that?"

34 Comments:

Blogger Bryon Quertermous said...

I wish I had it in me to write something like LA Requiem. I think that book showed truly what can be done with the supposedly tired PI form. It took characters to the edges of their abyss and exploded open their back stories. I also liked that it came from a guy with a pretty average start. I also wish I would have written Catcher in the Rye or The Sportswriter. Damn, good books.

10:47 AM  
Blogger JT Ellison said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:47 AM  
Blogger JT Ellison said...

Tasha Alexander -- AND ONLY TO DECEIVE. It's brilliant, witty, smart and fun. Her voice and story are so bloody unique, it kills me.
And T. Jefferson parker -- THE FALLEN. I loved the lyrical story, became as one with the characters. That's storytelling to aspire to.

10:49 AM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I wish I could write a book with the emotional content it had, the mastery of a foreign setting, the excitement of a hostage situation and the utter standing on its ear of all our expectations of what the book is about.

11:04 AM  
Blogger swampytad said...

Thomas Pynchon's VINELAND.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Brett Battles said...

Graham Greene's THE HEART OF THE MATTER or even THE QUIET AMERICAN. They are sparse and so much is actually between the lines, but the emotional impact is something I can only dream of achieving.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Brett Battles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Graham said...

I was thinking about this just last Saturday when I read an interview with Troy Cook, who mentioned that his book won the "Silver Evvy". I misread this as "Silver Envy", and thought that would be a great award.

I'll stay away from the classics and say that I wish I had written DOWN BY THE RIVER WHERE THE DEAD ME GO, by George Pelecanos. That book was so powerful, and so dark. I can't write like that, but I damn sure wish I could.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

Jesus, anything brilliantly Latin American: Feast of the Goat, How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, The House on Mango Street. Beautiful, tragic and funny. Is that too much to ask for?

2:12 PM  
Blogger robin said...

When I read this post, the first book that came to mind was L.A. Requiem. How funny that it was the first comment as well. I wish I could do what Crais does with characters. My second choices would be Pelecanos' "Right as Rain" or newcomer Bella Andre's "Take Me." Again, both are very much character driven novels which are very good. (no matter how many people try to dismiss both as simple "genre" novels.)

2:45 PM  
Blogger Michele Lee said...

I was going to pick Harry Potter because they are beautifully written. That aside I'll have to settle on most of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. They're funny, biting, and different from everything else I've read

2:50 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

The Stand by Stephen King. Not that I have any interest in writing horror, but:
1. the beautifully drawn characters
2. the compelling, fast paced story line
3. the fact that the book was too damned big but I couldn't put it down
4. the additional fact that after it was originally published he could put back the stuff that was cut, making it even longer but still a compelling read.

Wonderful. I ache with envy.

3:38 PM  
Blogger HighVoltage said...

Body and Soul by Frank Conroy

3:38 PM  
Blogger Dave White said...

The two books that came to mind were LA Requiem and SHUTTER ISLAND... Shutter Island is controversial, but it is the last book I put down where the ending punched me in the gut. Not the twist, but the moments after ... with the logs in the river... wham.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Allison Brennan said...

What a hard question! There are so many. I'm with Stacy . . . I would have loved to have written THE STAND, but I think NEEDFUL THINGS by King would be more in my style. VANISH by Tess Gerritsen. PSYCHOPATH by Keith Ablow. THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Connelly (brilliant!) THE SEARCH by Iris Johansen. So many fabulous books.

For classics, I wish I'd written many of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories. I love his work.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

I'm with you on *Mystic River*, Jason. Great book.

Just about anything from Stephen King. *Bag of Bones* is my fave.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

At the moment, Richard Price's CLOCKERS - without it, there would be no MYSTIC RIVER, no George Pelecanos (the later day stuff, at least) and no WIRE.

More related to the way I write, Kim Wozencraft's last two novels, because *that* is my model for female noir.

10:24 PM  
Blogger r2 said...

MYSTIC RIVER for sure.

THE LAST GOOD KISS by James Crumley. To me, the perfect hard-boiled novel.

THE GREEN RIPPER by John D. McDonald

1:03 AM  
Blogger LampLighter said...

I echo: LA Requiem by Robert Crais. It's a masterpiece.

3:09 AM  
Blogger Patrick F. Feeney said...

This will throw some for a loop, but it would have to be Ordinary People. The subject matter and family dynamics were superb and she was a first time author! After thta it would have to be The Stand, who could ever forget that cast of characters.

6:45 AM  
Blogger JD Rhoades said...

Oh, there's a long list of these for me. LA REQUIEM, surely. THE LAST GOOD KISS, absolutely. THE MALTESE FALCON. Twain's THE INNOCENTS ABROAD, for its wry, deadpan comic voice. Dan Simmons' HYPERION and THE FALL OF HYPERION, because I'd love to be able to write that sort of galaxy-spanning, wildly inventive, sense-of-wonder type of SF, and I just can't. Ken Bruen's THE GUARDS.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I've never read L.A. REQUIEM, but let's just say after all these glowing recommendations it's jumped to the top of my list.

I'll throw THE STAND up there as well, along with ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Marcail said...

THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini

11:03 AM  
Blogger Duane Swierczynski said...

THE DEATH AND LIFE OF BOBBY Z. The voice is just stunning. Goddamn that Winslow guy.

I'd also add: SHUTTER ISLAND and WHITE JAZZ.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Anthony Neil Smith's THE DRUMMER
Scott Phillips' THE ICE HARVEST
Michael White's A BROTHER'S BLOOD
Richard Russo's NOBODY'S FOOL

4:35 PM  
Blogger J. F. Margos said...

In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

The Once and Future King

Love, love, LOVE that book!

3:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had written 40 WORDS FOR SORROW by Giles Blunt. As soon as I put it down, I thought that, and said to myself, "someday, I want to be as good a writer as this." He inspires me to be a great CANADIAN crime novelist - to me he's broken that barrier that you can write great thrillers in Canadian settings that are superb without losing any of the grandeur of a Canadian setting.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that I've read through other people's comments, MYSTIC RIVER is another one I wish I'd written - absolutely, and if LA Requiem is this highly regarded, I'd better find myself a copy! Thanks for all the great suggestions for my TBR pile!

I'll be reading The Kite Runner as soon as DH is finished with it.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One Hundred Years of Solitude

1:14 PM  
Blogger M.J. said...

Rebecca and The Fountainhead.

10:31 AM  
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