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cs
09-16-2010, 10:38 AM
Lets say from 1960 to present. Who do you rank? I will give you some of mine and it may seem strange, but genre aside, these guys (or gals) do a great job of writing and keeping the reader involved.

Patrick O'Brian
Margert Weis & Tracy Hickman
RA Salvatore
Pat Conroy

What do you think?

Chad

Peerie Maa
09-16-2010, 11:15 AM
Terry Pratchett

Used to enjoy Anne McCaffery, but she has gone very black and unpleasant with age

Uncle Duke
09-16-2010, 11:30 AM
For fiction?
William Gibson for sci-fi type stuff
Larry McMurtry for serious stuff
Dick Francis for easy reading (up to about a decade ago, when his age started to catch up to him...)

Non-fiction?
John McPhee - consistently brilliant at making you interested in subjects you never thought you'd be interested in...
Tracy Kidder - especially stuff like "House", "Old Friends", "Home Town"...

Paul Pless
09-16-2010, 11:49 AM
I can't say he's the best author of modern times, but I just read Stieg Larsson's three novels and they were excellent. And, it should be pointed out that I don't generally like crime dramas.

Dane Allen
09-16-2010, 11:53 AM
I was rivited to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Now I can't put down Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. East of Eden is next.

Another vote for RA Salvatore.

TomF
09-16-2010, 11:54 AM
What makes for "best?" Ability to create a whacking good read, really interesting characters, a compelling world, express a very interesting set of ideas through narrative? There are a whole lot of different flavours of "best."

I'd put Ursula LeGuin up high for some things, Douglas Adams for others, and I don't pretend to go anywhere near real "literature."

cs
09-16-2010, 11:56 AM
To me what makes the best is something that invokes thought or triggers and emotion. At the present I'm reading yet another Pat Conroy book, My Losing Season, and like always Conroy makes you feel what he feels and brings forth the emotions.

Chad

seanz
09-16-2010, 11:58 AM
Eco, Gibson, Banks, Pratchett, Adams...........Rowling. There I said it 'Rowling'. I think I'll say it again, Rowling.

switters
09-16-2010, 12:08 PM
Eco, Gibson, Banks, Pratchett, Adams...........Rowling. There I said it 'Rowling'. I think I'll say it again, Rowling.

Rowling, I'll say it too. And Adams, I assume Douglas Adams?

Stephan Ambrose

Neal Stephenson

Tom Robbins

Stephen King

Larsson's third novel should be in my mailbox today or tomorrow, Mom sent it to me. Huzzah!

ron ll
09-16-2010, 12:13 PM
This thread has actually gone nine posts without anyone mentioning Vonnegut?!?

seanz
09-16-2010, 12:15 PM
And Adams, I assume Douglas Adams?



A reasonable assumption.....:)

I really like Stephenson.......his early stuff 'Snow Crash' etc is brilliant and Cryptonomicon was great stuff......buuuut it's a real investment to read his work now and sadly I don't have it in me right now and the last book of his I read, I liked but I didn't finish it. :(

seanz
09-16-2010, 12:20 PM
This thread has actually gone nine posts without anyone mentioning Vonnegut?!?

Nice save.

I'm having trouble going back past the 80's this morning.

James Elroy.

seanz
09-16-2010, 12:22 PM
Tom Robbins.

Australian author.....Tim Winton, he doesn't write action, sci-fi or 'high concept' stuff but he's the closest thing to modern literature that I can handle.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-16-2010, 12:24 PM
William Golding, Terry Pratchett, Timothy Mo.

Flying Orca
09-16-2010, 01:03 PM
I'll second O'Brian, Conroy, Gibson, Kidder, and Banks. Also Kim Stanley Robinson, the vastly underappreciated Martin Booth, and my perennial favourite Dorothy Dunnett. Hmmm... Don DeLillo, for the literary types. For pure fun, Steven Brust is right up there. Can't forget Roger Zelazny.

I'd think of more, but I'm listing them off the top of my head rather than while looking at my bookshelves...

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-16-2010, 01:09 PM
Dorothy Dunnett, eh?

I hugely enjoyed Niccolo; could not be bothered with Lymond. Niccolo is fun, Lymond is such an... idiot!

Flying Orca
09-16-2010, 01:21 PM
I too like Niccolo better than Lymond, on the whole. These days I mostly read the Lymond books, if at all, for the pleasure of Philippa Somerville's character. Dunnett's plotting and writing were brilliant from the first, but the cast were much more... I don't know, human... in the Niccolo books. Perhaps she had become a more astute observer of human nature in her later years?

Incidentally, she apparently modeled Lymond on her husband Sir Alastair Dunnett, which is intriguing!

johnw
09-16-2010, 01:37 PM
P.G. Wodehouse started writing about 1902, but he was still writing in the early 1970s, so surely he belongs on the list. There's even a Wodehouse Prize now.

PhaseLockedLoop
09-16-2010, 01:42 PM
Wot no Pynchon?

So I'll say it: Thomas Pynchon.

seanz
09-16-2010, 01:51 PM
Wot, no Burgess?

There, thread's running like clockwork now.

Flying Orca
09-16-2010, 01:54 PM
Burgess, yes. Haven't tried Pynchon yet, though I've been meaning to.

pefjr
09-16-2010, 02:11 PM
wot no Glenn Beck??? :D

no James Michener either?, my favorite

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
09-16-2010, 02:25 PM
Gould, Asimov, Pratchett.


I see there are no votes for Lessing or Kelman.

paladin
09-16-2010, 02:49 PM
Mark Twain...for a long dead guy he certainly has come up with a fairly recent work that gets folks up tight.

Sharpie21
09-16-2010, 03:12 PM
George MacDonald Fraser is not well known, but should be. His Flashman books are seriously good reads.
A.B. Guthrie, his novels of the early west were written in the 40's but he continued to write well into the 80's, so he qualifies.
Larry McMurtry is a prolific writer of consistently good fiction. Try the three books that make up the Berrybender saga.
Tom Robbins
John Steinbeck, of course.
Paul Theroux
and, dare I mention her, Ayn Rand.

ahp
09-16-2010, 03:41 PM
Arturo Perez-Reverte, especially his swashbucklers in Spain at the time of Phillip IV, featuring Captain Alatriste.

Sharon Key Penman, early English historical novels.

B_B
09-16-2010, 03:42 PM
George MacDonald Fraser is not well known, but should be. His Flashman books are seriously good reads.
After reading the Sharpe series I thought I'd try Flashman - just can't get into them.
Louis L'Amour
John LeCarre

John Meachen
09-16-2010, 03:45 PM
No mention so far of John Updike,Tom Wolfe or Sebastian Faulks,all of whom I would contend, merit inclusion.

Curtism
09-16-2010, 04:02 PM
Carl Hiaasen has been a reporter/columnist for a south Florida newspaper for the last 25 or so years and uses his experiences with political/corporate corruption and various criminals in the real world to fabricate his fictional characters in his novels. And, what better place to get familiar with crooks and whackjobs than Florida? It seems he exacts wicked revenge through his books on all the goons he's reported on and does so quite humorously. His books are real page flippers and I find them highly entertaining.

Curtis

Glen Longino
09-16-2010, 04:07 PM
Cormac McCarthy is one of my favorite current writers.

Scott Rosen
09-16-2010, 04:10 PM
I'll second Cormac McCarthy. The Road was one of the best pieces of writing I've read in long time.

seanz
09-16-2010, 04:33 PM
Arturo Perez-Reverte, especially his swashbucklers in Spain at the time of Phillip IV, featuring Captain Alatriste.

Sharon Key Penman, early English historical novels.

2nd that, recently read Captain Alatriste (as recommended in The Bilge) and I'll search out a few more of his. A great read.

Old Dryfoot
09-16-2010, 05:01 PM
Modern times will need to extend to 1954 I'm afraid, J.R.R.Tolkien is the greatest master of fiction bar none in my opinion.

Joe (SoCal)
09-16-2010, 05:23 PM
Well since I got the new iPad I started re-reading some classics.

http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m320/fosterhere/4e0adaa6.png

It's amazing how easy it is now to just pick up a couple of books and the digital book interface is so cool.

http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m320/fosterhere/6e0917b1.png

Love it ;)

seanz
09-16-2010, 05:47 PM
Winnie The Pooh? Tell me it isn't so, Joe.

:D

Y Bar Ranch
09-16-2010, 06:01 PM
Wot no Pynchon?

So I'll say it: Thomas Pynchon.

I've made two separate assaults on Gravity's Rainbow. It sits partially read on my shelf.

PeterSibley
09-16-2010, 06:01 PM
More Terry Pratchett
Peter Carey ...I don't necessarily enjoy him but that's not really the point ....very interesting writing that twists the knife .

Keith Wilson
09-16-2010, 06:04 PM
Jorge Luis Borges, although he died in '86.

Joe (SoCal)
09-16-2010, 06:12 PM
Winnie The Pooh? Tell me it isn't so, Joe.

:D

It came with the iPad ;)

pefjr
09-16-2010, 06:13 PM
Mark Twain...for a long dead guy he certainly has come up with a fairly recent work that gets folks up tight.I am reading a sample of Who is Mark Twain now, didn't think of him as modern.

Sharpie21
09-16-2010, 06:33 PM
Serious omission, J. R. R. Tolkien is on my list, too.

As it turns out, this is not an easy thread to respond to. We all relate to different writers on different levels, and, depending on when we did the readings, at different life stages. My list of best authors today is not the list I would have posted when I was a younger man.

Better? No. Different? Yes.

Woxbox
09-16-2010, 06:36 PM
Annie Proulx

ccmanuals
09-16-2010, 06:45 PM
W.E.B Griffin, John D. McDonald, Michner, Harold Robbins

johnw
09-16-2010, 06:50 PM
After reading the Sharpe series I thought I'd try Flashman - just can't get into them.
Louis L'Amour
John LeCarre
Nothing like the same kind of book. Flashman isn't a hero, he's a villain whose flaws make him a perfect foil for dishing dirt on all the great historical figures on the 19th century.

jlaprad
09-16-2010, 06:58 PM
Carl Hiaasen has been a reporter/columnist for a south Florida newspaper for the last 25 or so years and uses his experiences with political/corporate corruption and various criminals in the real world to fabricate his fictional characters in his novels. And, what better place to get familiar with crooks and whackjobs than Florida? It seems he exacts wicked revenge through his books on all the goons he's reported on and does so quite humorously. His books are real page flippers and I find them highly entertaining.

Curtis
Second Carl Hiaasen, "Strip Tease", "Basket Case", "Tourist Season", "Stormy Weather", "Sick Puppy", etc... I can't remember them all but they are hilarious and entertaining. What about John D. MacDonald?

David G
09-16-2010, 07:15 PM
I see a couple folks have mentioned John D. McDonald. No one has yet mentioned Robert Heinlein. A few more: Joseph Heller; William Styron; Jack London; Dashiell Hammett; George Orwell.

J. Brown
09-16-2010, 07:15 PM
A bit quirky, but here you go:

Norman Rush
Christian Jungersen (the one books I've read so far)
Stanislaw Lem
A.S. Byatt
Robertson Davies
John Irving (early to mid)
Frank Herbert


I found Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow and Wallaces' Infinate Jest unreadable. Ayn Rand is readable until you're 25, then you eventually become a bit embarrassed by her writing - sort of like your dog farting with company over. Nevertheless, Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead are still on my shelf as I know my son will want to read and discuss them some day.

ccmanuals
09-16-2010, 08:34 PM
Added to my previous list, Clive Cussler.

Osborne Russell
09-16-2010, 08:38 PM
Modern times began with Thoreau. Find someone earlier if you can. A rejection of materialism in the face of the promises of industry and technology. It doesn't get any more modern though it was 180 years ago.

B_B
09-16-2010, 09:13 PM
Nothing like the same kind of book. Flashman isn't a hero, he's a villain whose flaws make him a perfect foil for dishing dirt on all the great historical figures on the 19th century.
for sure - I'm not illeterate (hehe) just didn't cotton to the style. As SWMBO gave me six or seven of them for Christmas last year I'll definitely be giving them another shot sooner or later ;) FWIW it took me several tries before I got into O'Brien...but then I enjoyed them.

dredbob
09-16-2010, 09:20 PM
I find Lois McMaster Bujold to be one of the most interesting and imaginative of the modern fantasists. And then there's Robert Jordan, whose Wheel of Time series has kept me reading and rereading for some 20 years or more. Sadly, he died before completing the grand finale, although he was able to dictate the broad outlines and many elements he envisioned so that it could be finished. The fellow chosen to write the final volumes is not quite of the same caliber, though he is able to move the story along.

Elizabeth Peter's "Amelia Peabody" series is a very good historical/action/mystery/comedic/romance series that both my wife and I love, and I'm hoping that there will be at least one or two more of these.

Bob

Rigadog
09-16-2010, 09:46 PM
Kingsolver -The Poisonwood Bible

Annie Proulx - That Old Ace in the Hole

William Golding - Pincer Martin

Paul Theroux - travel

Bill Bryson for good humour/ observation

The guy who wrote "Shadow Divers" for non-fiction - Kurson?

Ross M
09-16-2010, 09:58 PM
I have always enjoyed John Irving's work.

Flying Orca
09-16-2010, 10:44 PM
Re George McDonald Fraser - The Pyrates is unbelievably funny, highly recommended if you like his stuff and haven't read it.

Flying Orca
09-16-2010, 10:46 PM
Lem, Davies, Irving - yes.

johnw
09-17-2010, 12:12 AM
Pardon me Keith, but I find Borges to be unreadable. Akin to trying to converse with someone high on hallucinogens. I do admire your intellect, so tell me, who's your next choice?
Did you try the library of babel? I quite liked that one, though I'm not on board with all of his work.

http://jubal.westnet.com/hyperdiscordia/library_of_babel.html

johnw
09-17-2010, 12:18 AM
Re George McDonald Fraser - The Pyrates is unbelievably funny, highly recommended if you like his stuff and haven't read it.
Actually my least favorite of his books. I've you're looking for straight historical fiction, a la Sharpe's Rifles, try Black Ajax. Fraser plays it straight in that one. You also might like McAuslin in the Rough, or The General Danced at Dawn. The humor is gentler.

leikec
09-17-2010, 01:12 AM
1069

This guy hopes to be one of the best....

Blatant self promotion. Couldn't resist.

Jeff C

Breakaway
09-17-2010, 02:13 AM
+1 Cormac McCarthy. S. E. Hinton. Salinger.Tom Clancy.( yeah...I know) E. Annie Proulx. Richard Bach. Not a complete list, but they come right to mind.

Kevin

cs
09-17-2010, 08:58 AM
I've read a couple of Cromwell's books, just finished Stonehenge. I had a hard time getting started in that one but by the end it had me hooked.

Chad

David G
09-17-2010, 10:12 AM
And how did I forget Raymond Chandler? I'm re-reading 'Farewell My Lovely' right now.

PhaseLockedLoop
09-17-2010, 10:32 AM
David Foster Wallace (though I'm not a big fan of Infinite Jest)
John Barth

Mrleft8
09-17-2010, 10:51 AM
There's literature, and there's good books. Some literature is good books, some good books aren't literature.
Literature authors:
David Rhodes
Richard Russo
Howard Frank Mosher
Louise Erdrich
Barbara Kingsolver
Pat Conroy
(I can't stand Steig Larson)
Good books authors:
Grisham
Elmore Leonard
Carl Hiassen
Patricia Cornwell
James Patterson
Archer Mayor
Sara Paretsky
Obviously there are dozens more but that's off the top of my mind......
OH YEAH! JB Chicoine! :D

htom
09-17-2010, 11:20 AM
Unnamed, so far, unless I missed them:

Literature: Ivan Doig. English Creek is a good place to start. My judgment may be distorted because he's writing about "my home", where I was a child.

Almost yet probably not: John Grisham and Iain Banks.

Good reads: Lois McMaster BuJold, Elizabeth Moon, Charles Stross, ....

Waterdown
09-17-2010, 10:24 PM
OK, here are some, but not (necessarily) all my favourites:

Michael Ondaatje
Margaret Laurence
Doris Lessing
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Toni Morrison
Alice Walker
Richard Feynman
Lisa Appignanesi
Margaret Wise Brown
Dayal Kaur Khalsa
Ursula K LeGuin
Kurt Vonnegut
Elie Wiesel
Alice Munroe

Literary capacity and writing ability are the price of admission. Excellence is beyond. Ayn Rand and J.K. Rowling need not apply, any more than Gore Vidal or Tom Clancy.

Cheers, Chris

Bruce Hooke
09-17-2010, 10:45 PM
Two of my recent favorites are Roger Deakin (Wildwood and Waterlog) and Craig Childs (The Secret Knowledge of Water), but I don't know that they qualify as "best" within the broad span of modern literature.

The one name the comes to me that might qualify and that I have not seen mentioned so far (but might have overlooked) is Annie Dillard (Pilgram at Tinker Creek).