Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Top 10 talkative novels

Frederic Raphael is probably best known as the author of Glittering Prizes and its sequel Fame and Fortune. This month, he publishes a third volume in this series, Final Demands. He also collaborated on Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut.

"Dialogue in a novel is like stained glass, the surrounding prose is there to frame and support it," he tells the Guardian in the prefatory remarks to his top ten list of talkative novels.

One novel on the list:
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

When I first opened Steinbeck's great novel about "the Okies" – migrant sharecroppers from the 1930s dust-bowl of Oklahoma – I found their dialogue, phonetically reproduced on the page, quite incomprehensible. But read it aloud and the voices of the Joad family come out fighting, as it were. The family's trek to golden California has plenty of cruel incident, but when I think of Rose of Sharon, for instance, I hear her name "Rosa-sharn" the way Tom Joad said it, and says it.
Read about the other novels on Raphael's list.

The Grapes of Wrath
also appears on John Mullan's list of ten of the best pieces of fruit in literature and among Honor Blackman's six best books.

--Marshal Zeringue