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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Great Wednesday Compare 2: Doris Lessing VERSUS Norman Mailer

The winner of last week's Great Wednesday Compare (J. R .R. Tolkien Vs Doris Lessing), with a final score of 10-5, was Doris Lessing.

Well, I guess I should be ashamed of myself! Not only had I not even heard of Lessing until the
The Times Online article (so I'm not up on Nobel winners, leave me alone!), but I honestly expected a landslide victory for Tolkien. In fact, I figured the 2nd Wednesday Compares would retire with him, I had so overestimated his appeal (I retire a round when a winner has 5 consecutive victories). It's not that I'm a huge Tolkien fan. I've always been pretty ambivalent about the guy. I somewhat enjoyed the Lord of the Rings books (and movies), and I appreciate the influence they've had on the fantasy genre. But I did find them long and the songs got on my nerves. Still, I thought I was in the minority with my negative feelings until I read this post at Sam's blog. Ouch! No wonder Tolkien didn't last long. In fact, unlike the first round of Wednesday Compares, no author has managed to go beyond 2 weeks. Will anyone? There has to be a champion out there somewhere.

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (July 1st, 2008), and please spread the word!

Who's better?

15 comments:

Corey Redekop said...

Mailer, hands down more fun.

Nicola said...

I haven't read either! But rather than abstain I'll go with who is sexier and that would be Mailer. Besides I do want to read him someday.

So I vote for Mailer

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I haven't read Mailer, but I doubt it would matter anyway. Definitely Lessing!

Nicole said...

I haven't read either of these authors, so this week I'm going to exercise my right to vote based entirely upon my emotions.

I'm voting for Mailer for two reasons:

1) I'm voting AGAINST the person who beat Tolkien.

2) He totally appeared on an episode of "Gilmore Girls."

Rob Hardy said...

Lessing.

kookiejar said...

Mailer. "The Naked and The Dead" is one of the best war (or anti-war) novels ever written.

Pooker said...

Wasn't Mailer "anti" just about everything? Bad attitude. I vote Lessing.

Bybee said...

I'm fond of Lessing's short stories, but I just finished The Executioner's Song so I'm still under the spell of Mr. Mailer. Plus, you gotta give the man props for inventing the word "fug" and neatly getting around the censors of the time. It's close enough to the real thing to satisfy me.

Bybee said...

OK, so he didn't invent "fug", but he invented another meaning for it.

Dewey said...

Definitely Lessing, no contest! I like these easy ones. :)

bookchronicle said...

I've only read Lessing so she's the woman with my vote.

Remi said...

Mailer. He may never have been as successful as he wanted to be but he kept at it, kicking and screaming to the end.

Besides, The Naked and the Dead was a great book.

Carrie K said...

Oh geez. Lessing, hands down.

I went through a Mailer phase back in my 20's and that was enough, thankyouverymuch. And whatever any of you do, don't pick up Castle in the Forest.

Isabella said...

Doris Lessing!!!

Ted Burke said...

I've read five Lessing novels, notably Memoirs of a Survivor and The Golden Notebook, and while I enjoyed her style, rigor and ability to bridge science fiction and the higher literary calling (a tradition British writers like Aldous Huxely, J.G.Ballard and Will Self are able to perform and sustain without the slightest hint of pretention), I did find her dystopic visions rather typical , if evocative. I haven't read much of her since graduating college in the early eighties, and never got around to renewing my acquaintence with her work. Sometimes two or three books will satisfy your curioiusity.

Mailer, though, kept me interested , and had the rare situation where he was both a publicity hog and ungodly gifted artist. Mailer was fascinating because he had his own odd code, a mix of Hemingway , and religious existentialism, and these ideas turned up in all his work, fiction and nonfiction alike, kept fresh by Mailer's willingness to experiment with style, voice and circumstance. His accomplishments as novelist are under rated at this point; yes, Naked and the Dead and Executioner's Song are masterpieces, but there are other brave, exasperating and grand bits of genius in his other fictions, notably Harlot's Ghost, Ancient Evenings, An American Dream and his last novel, The Castle in the Forest.