Sunday, 23 November 2014

Self-styled challenge: first novels

Last Friday, I reviewed The Hardy Boys No.1: The Tower Treasure as part of a self-styled challenge to read the first novels by both famous and not so well-known authors. These will also comprise writers, including pseudonymous writers, whose novels I read in my younger days. Short stories don’t count but novellas do. My goal is to read and review at least one such novel every week and retrace a part of my book route over the past four decades.. I could mention some of the authors I intend to read but it’ll take away the element of surprise, for whatever it’s worth. Nonetheless, author selection is a challenge.

I kicked off this challenge with The Hardy Boys because it was the first of any kind of fiction I read. By this time next year I hope to have read some 50 first novels by 50 different authors.

I have no rules. The first novels could be classic, vintage, golden, modern, or contemporary spanning every genre there is. I may read more novels in one genre like western, espionage or mystery. I’ll publish a scorecard every quarter. And the reviews could be as short as two paragraphs or as long as ten paragraphs. The idea is to keep it as simple as possible and in a way that suits me best. No pressure. I also reserve the right to pull out of the challenge any time I want although the excuse won’t be as feeble as a shortage of novels. That just won’t hold.

I’m fairly excited and a little scared about this challenge because I’m not the fastest of readers or reviewers and I can be easily distracted from my reading. Still, I’m looking forward to it and with your encouragement, I’m sure I’ll succeed, at least a good part of the way of first novels.

22 comments:

  1. Sounds like fun. We'll look forward to whatever ones you get to review. No pressure from out here either. :)

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    1. Charles, thank you. I haven't given the first novels a thought but it'll be fun, no doubt.

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  2. I will be interested in seeing which novels you read in younger days and what you think of them now. I was just thinking the other day that the only specific novels I can remember reading from my youth are Erle Stanley Gardner mysteries and Rex Stout mysteries. I know I read a lot of other books, but don't remember them at all.

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    1. Tracy, thank you. I intend to read first novels I read in my younger days as well as at other times, plus those I have never read. ESG is very much on my mind.

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  3. Good luck with this challenge. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts and musings.

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    1. Col, thank you. I'm looking forward to it though I can already feel myself breaking out into a sweat.

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  4. Great idea. Sometimes the first novel is the best and other times you can see great growth over time.

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    1. Patti, thank you. A first novel does tell you how a writer has evolved, especially if you have read his or her other books down the line.

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  5. This seems like a very interesting challenge, Prashant. I wish you luck and eagerly await your reviews.

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    1. Neer, thank you. I hope I can live up to my own challenge!

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  6. Projects like this can be great fun, a neat challenge and an exploratory, learning experience as well. I think it's a cool idea, and look forward to reading the reviews that result.

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    1. Richard, thank you. I will need plenty of encouragement as I have the typical Libran traits—procrastination and laziness! I didn't think of it as an "exploratory" and a "learning experience." That's a thought.

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  7. This is an interesting challenge Prashant. I'm looking forward to following you on this journey.

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    1. Rebecca, thank you. All this wonderful encouragement is beginning to scare me. Once in, I hope I continue on the "journey."

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  8. Sounds great Prashant - and I'm sure we all lots fo very helpful suggestions if you run out fo idead! Hope this post arrives OK - I've had to create a blogger account which hopefully won;t conflict with my other email settings ...

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    1. Sergio, thank you. I think I'd be daunted by your suggestions considering the terrific novels you read and review week after week. They are always welcome, though at my own peril!

      I'm really surprised your non-Blogger ID isn't allowing you to comment. It appears to be a fairly major technical glitch that Blogger hasn't addressed yet. Thanks for taking all the trouble to comment.

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  9. Prashant - I really like the idea of looking at first novels. They often give the character really interesting backstory. What's more, you can see how the author grows and evolves over time. I'll be looking forward to seeing which books you look at for this challenge.

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    1. Ms. Kinberg, thank you. I’m looking forward to reading some excellent and unexpected first novels, especially by authors I have never read before. I want to surprise myself with my choices. I’ll be equally interested in your feedback to my selection.

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  10. Prashant, I did something similar to this when I read the first novels (or short story collections) by early writers of frontier fiction. It took me more than a year, and I ended up reading well over 100 of them. Some writers went on to publish scores of novels; some stopped at just the one. For me, the project turned into a book, HOW THE WEST WAS WRITTEN. Maybe the same will happen for you.

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    1. Ron, thank you for the encouragement. HOW THE WEST WAS WRITTEN is the sweet fruit of your labour reading more than a hundred early frontier fiction for your very special project. As you reviewed many of these books on your blog, you also introduced me to many early western writers. To succeed in a project like this, however, one needs to put one's heart and soul into it.

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  11. That sounds like a great idea for a challenge Prashant, and like all your other fans I'm looking forward to your choices and your reflections.

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    1. Moira, thank you. I was thinking of reflecting on the books I read, as you do on your blog, rather than reviewing them in the strict sense. Apart from the different treatment, it also gives one more freedom and leverage.

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