Friday, November 5, 2010


Literary Blog Hop

The Blue Bookcase has started a "Literary Blog Hop" for blogs "that primarily feature reviews of literary fiction, classic literature, and general literary discussion." Today is the very first LBH.

I'm in!

The first of the weekly "prompts" is: Please highlight one of your favorite books and why you would consider it "literary."

That's the kind of subject that makes my head spin.  The answer that comes immediately to mind is "Such and such book is 'literary' because I read it and I only read 'literary' books."  But that tautology begs the question.

The gals at The Blue Bookcase offer some guidance:

Literature has many definitions, but for our purposes your blog qualifies as "literary" if it focuses primarily on texts with aesthetic merit. In other words, texts that show quality not only in narrative but also in the effect of their language and structure. If your blog focuses primarily on YA, fantasy, romance, paranormal romance, or chick lit, you may prefer to join the blog hop at Crazy-for-Books that is open to book blogs of all genres. (Note: if your blog does not fit the above qualifications it may be removed from the Linky list. . . .)

My take away, for purposes of this hop at least, is that "literary" means well-written and non-genre. It looks like some mysteries or espionage could sneak in, but no teen-age vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, shoe shoppers, or bodice rippers. But I had better get it right or I could be booted from the list.

The problem is that this brings me back to my original answer. I don't think I need to make a case that the prize winners and "must read" books from my lists (see right-side column) are "literary."   So I will fall back on my usual pitch for why Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time is my favorite novel ever.

Hands down, my favorite "book" on the Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century list was A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.  Although commonly listed as one work, Dance is actually 12 novels, originally published separately but commonly published in four volumes of three novels each, called "The 1st Movement," "The 2nd Movement," etc.

Dance follows a group of characters in England from 1914 through WWII and up to 1971. The plots of the individual novels are less important than the entwining of these characters as they move in and out of each others lives over the years.
It definitely meets TBB's criteria of aesthetic merit, with beautiful language and a cohesive structure in addition to an absorbing story.


  1. Thanks for participating in the hop! We're excited to have you.

    Just so you know, we don't think that "literary fiction" has to be non-genre; it exists in so many genres!

    I look forward to perusing your blog further :)

  2. ConnieGirl -- Thanks for hosting this! And I agree with you about genres -- I think many literary books can also be categorized into one genre or another. James Lee Burke and Kate Atkinson, for example, write mysteries that are most definitely literary.

    I look forward to the other "prompts" you guys come up with.

  3. Hmmm, Anthony Powell. This IS an interesting suggestion. I don't know anyone else who has ever actually read the whole thing through, so far as I know. So it's really worth doing, hey? Do you think all in one go, or take it steady and read other things in between?

  4. teadevotee -- Dance is absolutely worth reading. It is wonderful, through and through. I didn't read all 12 novels straight through, I always read at several other books in between. It probably took me a couple of years to get through the whole thing.

    Powell likes fairly long sentences, with lots of commas. So it takes a little while to get into the rhythm of his writing. But there is a lot going on and the stories move along quickly. It is very entertaining.

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I've never even heard of Dance to the Music of Time before. I am definitely adding it to my to-read list. Thanks so much for the recommendation. It's always good to discover new books!

    -Emily @ Reading While Female

  6. I have to admit I've never heard of 'A Dance to the Music of Time' but it sounds wonderful - it's now on my to-read list.

    And I'm also your newest follower :)

    Sam at Tiny Library

  7. Rose City, I bow to your marathon endurance if you read all twelve books in succession! I have the first volume on my shelf, and now I am eyeing it....

  8. Emily -- Thanks for stopping by. I like your blog a lot. And I recommend Dance, even if it is not written by a woman. :)

    Sam -- Thanks for hopping to my blog and for following! I hope you read and enjoy Dance.

    bibliophiliac -- I didn't read them back to back, although they are entertaining enough to do so. I read other books in between and it took me a while to finish. Enjoy the first volume!

  9. WHOA! I thought my contribution to the LBH with a trilogy was pushing it a bit - your blog on 12 volumes takes the grand prize! I have never heard of Anthony Powell or his works.

    The title itself suggests an epic of sorts 'Dance to the Music of Time'. I am thoroughly intrigued and must look them up.

    You have a lovely blog by the way, I'm glad I discovered it.

  10. I ve read vol one and am just about to read vol two ,my fellow blogger inside books has like yourself read the cycle completely ,I think Powell wonderfully capture a certain bit of englishness ,wonderful choice ,all teh best stu

  11. Oh wow. That novel (series) sounds fascinating! Adding it to my TBR. :-)

    Adding you to my Reader. Great to meet you, and thanks for this post.

    - Jillian

  12. Lovely! Thank you for sharing this.

  13. Love your post :) I agree that "literary" books have to be well-written. To me, they are books that go beyond just telling a fun little story, and often have something deeper going on.

    Hope you are having a great weekend :)

  14. mywordlyobsessions -- Thanks for the compliment. Yes, it is a little presumptuous to recommend a "novel" that is 12 volumes. But each book of the 12 is actually pretty short -- all have fewer than 200 pages.

    winstonsdad -- Glad to find someone else reading Dance. Nice to meet you. You have a great blog.

    Jillian -- Thanks for vising. I am finding many great blogs because of this hop.

    readerbuzz -- Thanks for coming by!

    Kelly -- You have a nice weekend too! When I saw your name, I thought you were my business partner, catching me blogging instead of working. WHEW!

  15. Well-written post. I have never read Powell, but my interest is peaked. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  16. I like your assortment of lists. There are a couple there I always pay attention too. There are others I may have to look into.

  17. I'm considering a Dance to the Music of time project next year... this post is very encouraging!

  18. togorman -- Thanks! Powell is a favorite of mine, although I've only read two of his non-Dance books. I am looking forward to his non-fiction as well.

    Loni -- I do love to play with my book lists. Please leave a comment if you find another list you think I would like.

    JoAnn -- I've given Dance to several people, and they have all enjoyed it. It is very entertaining.

  19. Thanks for stopping by Pens With Cojones. Glad we found each other through the hop.

    Dances sounds like a great read. I am also super interested in Powell himself. I did some googling after reading this post and he was an interesting guy...stints in military intelligence, declined knighthood and all.

    Great post!

  20. Mayowa -- Thanks for visiting. I'm glad you got interested in Powell. He was a very interesting man and his writing is wonderful. He should be better known.

  21. I'm passing through on the hop (I started at the end of the list where I am, and working my way forward), and just added Anthony Powell to the list of authors to explore in the future. Nice blog.



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