A.S. Byatt

A. S. Byatt is smarter than you are. She knows it, and when you read one of her novels, you'll know it, too. When she's in a rub-this-in-your-face mood, this can make wading through one of her novels tough going. The first time I read Possession (in my defense, I was a sophomore in high school) I was forced to look at least one thing up on pretty much every page--and that was skipping all of the poetry bits.

However, if you don't mind a persistent feeling of mental inferiority--and I find that I don't--some of Byatt's work is enormously enjoyable. The Matisse Stories collection--particularly the first story--is gorgeously sensual, her reworked fairy tales and fables are excellent, and Possession (deservedly Byatt's most famous work) is perfectly balanced between escapist fiction and high art.

Note: A. S. Byatt wrote an essay (a really condescending essay, but still!) in praise of Georgette Heyer, which endears her to me, in spite of the Harry Potter essay mentioned below.

Well, the movie versions of Angel and Insects and Possession could have been worse. I guess. Probably. But here's a tip, Ms. Byatt: don't write tactless essays dissecting the mallrat mentality of Harry Potter fans in The New York Times. You didn't make any friends with that one.

Everywhere. Look in decent used bookstores, where you can usually find some of her pricey paperbacks for under ten dollars.

Other Recommendations:
American Gods or the Sandman series of graphic novels, by Neil Gaiman

The Club Dumas, by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Anything by Angela Carter

The Holder of the World, by Bharati Mukherjee

http://www.asbyatt.com -
Posted by: Julia


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