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Modern Era Classics : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Modern Era Classics

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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Brien Sz
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Modern Era Classics

Postby Brien Sz » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:32 pm

Listing 'the classics' is easy fare regardless of likes or not. List the Top Ten or Twenty classics and surely several names will parallel. However, I am wondering what people think 'are' the Modern Era Classics? When I say modern era, I am looking at books published within the last thirty years (give or take a couple). I'd be interested to know what the more literary and informed think should grace such a list.

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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:43 pm

Or the ones I've read,the only books I'd knock off this list would be The Road, Bonfire of the Vanities, and The Da Vinci Code. I think they're junk, but that's just me. To each his own. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20207349,00.html

I've read about three fourths of them, and will read the rest, God willing and the creek don't rise. It's a good list, and well worth reading, despite the clunker here and there. "Clunker" defined as a book I don't like, but that others may love.

The list is missing some genre novels, and some collections of short stories. I think some of Stephen King will become classics. Notably, The Stand, The Body (Stand By Me), Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile.

And all the Harry Potter novels should be on there. The first one is the best, lists be darned.

I also think darned near everything Ray Bradbury wrote will still be read in a hundred years, which is my definition of a classic. He's arguably the best short story writer of the twentieth century, and equally good at novels, when he tried. No other writer uses simple, everyday language the way he did. He makes common words sing. Like his stories or not, his writing is brilliant.

I could easily add another fifty genre novels to the list. I fact, there should be a list of one hundred modern classic genre novels that's separate from this list. Then, I think, you'd have them all.

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Brien Sz
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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby Brien Sz » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:39 pm

And I thought The Road was brilliant. But I love the whole post apocalyptic theme and the second book I recently re-edited and am going to pitch after the New Year is a post apocalyptic/dystopian effort. I thought the way he did the whole boy/man was tremendous, unique. I am, in general, a slow reader but the DaVinci Code had me glued. For one, I know that subject matter well and was fascinated by how he incorporated that theory into an entertaining novel format. Second, the pacing was stunning. I had never read anything quite as fast paced and interesting all wrapped in one. I then read Angels and Demons, which, get past the first 100 pages and you have the same format as DaVinci but then again, you now have the whole Dan Brown style of writing and characters and how things unfold, which to me equates to boring. This is one of the reasons why I don't read successive books by too many authors because it seems that once they get the cookie cutter style of how they want the piece to flow, they keep to the same basic recipe and to be frank, I prefer some variety to my dishes.

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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:56 pm


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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby MookyMcD » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:05 pm

I hate McCarthy. I think he lives in a place between prose and poetry and someone who has spent too much time with a blue pencil in his hand can find him impossible to read.

The Dan Brown books are fine, but I'd call them modern Ian Fleming more than "classics." Budweiser is the biggest selling beer in the history of fermentation, but that doesn't make it a craft beer. I'm not being a snob, I've read all of Ian Fleming and most of Dan Brown and they were fun. I've also crushed plenty of six packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon and bags of Doritos, but I'm not going to think of them as cuisine.

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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:30 pm


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Brien Sz
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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby Brien Sz » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:37 pm

The thing about the info in the DaVinci Code is that he took the theory and played with it to meet his ends. It isn't historical fiction or even scholarly but a conflation of ideas he mixed into a pot. I wouldn't go as far as say he got everything wrong, what he did was twist everything up. Regardless of what he did with the info, he knew his subject matter well enough that he could break the rules and go out and have a blast with it. As for his characters, they were minor players moving all that intrigue and info along. I've read characters as equally clichéd and worse elsewhere. But in the end, he hit the nerve of the public and it went viral.

I've never read anything else by McCarthy so I can't speak for any of it.

I have to start reading faster.

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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:27 pm


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Brien Sz
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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby Brien Sz » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:34 pm

I didn't have issue with it. I have a pretty good depth of knowledge of early Christian History and many of the fringe beliefs therein, I found it pretty wild. All the work is out there if people want to really inquire - for those that took it as a certain truth... well shame on them. I took the work as what it was, fiction. And there is no way that you simply just make up all that without knowing the subject matter. You have to have a clue in order to manipulate it as masterfully as he did. Call it lying, I guess, I didn't quite take it for that.

You want bastardizing... read Bill O'Reilly's, Killing Jesus.

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Re: Modern Era Classics

Postby mammamaia » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:06 pm

first of all, what is your definition of a 'classic'?... is it the same as the person who compiled the 'list' you're referring to?

and does 'classic' mean 'popular'? [as in more copies sold than non-'classics'?]

or does it mean something with great literary value that transcends the era in which it was written/created?

if the latter, how can anything written/created only 30 years ago be considered a 'classic'?... doesn't it take a lot longer than just a single generation to establish an artistic work's staying power?
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