H is for High School Authors: Updated!

A lot of "Authors I was Forced to Read in High School" show up on this list--more than I anticipated!

Haddon, Mark: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is frankly not the type of book I usually read, but I read it when it came out (like everyone else). It is very good. What I find more fascinating though was the trouble the publishers had deciding whether to market it to adults or to children. If I remember correctly, Haddon thought he was writing for one group, but the publisher was sure it was for another. Since it ended up being read by everybody, the issue is moot, but it does illustrate the fundamental flaw in categorizing books. Why let "age assigned" designations determine what you read?! 

Hale, Shannon: I haven't read her adult novels, just her YA ones, so I'll discuss her when I do A-Z Children's Lit (followed I hope by 000-900, Non-Fiction)!

Hardy, Thomas: Author of the most ridiculously depressing book in the English language, Tess of the D'Ubervilles. Hardy is in fact a fine writer, but terribly uninspiring.

The Latest!
Harris, C.S. writes the Sebastian St. Cyr series. I very much enjoy these (so far) and hope Harris continues with the current relationship--that is, I hope she keeps Sebastian a good, faithful husband. Set in the Regency period in London, the series combines suspense and mystery and history and a little bit of horror to tell the life story of an aristocratic detective although Sebastian is less aristocrat, more dark & dangerous investigator. There's some soap opera involved, at least in the earlier books, which unfold based on a completely unbelievable series of events (she turned out to be WHO?), but I can't fault the writer. I think she discovered that Sebastian's current love interest was two billion times more interesting to write about than his initial love interest, hence the convoluted plot to dispose of the one to provide room for the other.

Harris, Charlaine: I have read a number of Charlaine's Harris's books about Sookie Stackhouse. I think they have some good points. However, I disagree with some of Harris's non-fictional statements. In general, I ignore a writer's (or actor's) personal life. I don't care who they vote for as long as they write (and act) well. In Harris's case, however, her statements (about Whedon) are writer-based, which ended up influencing my overall response to her books. Note to writers: if you criticize other artists' works, be aware that the same criticism might be applied to your work. (Though as a writer, it is easier to see something in someone else's work than in one's own.)

Harris, Joanne: I read Chocolat after I saw the movie. They are somewhat different in tone and intention but close enough, the movie doesn't feel a violation of the book (or vice versa). I am very glad that the Alfred Molina character was changed from a priest (in the book) to the mayor (in the movie). Keeping him a priest  would have come across as far more anti-Catholic aggressive in the movie than it does on the page. I just finished reading The Dark Box by John Cornwell, and unfortunately priests like the one in the book were churned out by Pius X's reforms. I just don't care for movies that keep shoving the Catholic church's faults in my face (and I'm not Catholic).

Hautala, Rick: I must mention Rick Hautala, Maine horror author. He was an adjunct at SMCC when I started there. He died approximately a year ago, mid-semester, from a heart attack. He was a very nice, fun-to-talk-to guy. He was also a regularly published author; it was Rick who made me realize that being a consistently (and known) published writer doesn't automatically equal Rowlings/King incomes! I haven't read Rick's novels, but I did read one of his Halloween horror short stories that he gave me (it was later accepted by Cemetery Dance magazine). R.I.P., Rick!

Hawthorne was extremely
good-looking and rather dour.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel is another one of those high school authors. He is actually quite a good author although I admit that I get more of a kick out of Hawthorne's personal life than out of his writing: he was practically the only writer in Transcendentalist Concord who didn't fall all over himself trying to impress Emerson. There's something so satisfying about Hawthorne's grumpy I'm-one-of-you-but-not-really attitude towards his fellow nineteenth-century American authors.

Heath, Lorraine is a romance writer for YAs and adults. Her YA romances are mild; her adult YA novels are steamy. I quite like her YA novel Samantha & the Cowboy (I enjoy women-in-male-disguise stories, no matter how improbable). Her adult romances, however, tend to use premises that I can never really go along with comfortably (for example, a hero who starts out as a gigolo--eh: see my notes on the problems of romance heroes and villainous romance heroes).

Helprin, Mark: Of his adult books I have read A Winter's Tale. I have also read his Swan Lake, beautifully illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. I like Helprin's writing (he is the kind of author that gets labeled surreal or fantastical by critics who are uncomfortable with "fantasy"--and he's read by those kind of people too). Reading Helprin is kind of like reading Amelie. A good experience. But I confess I haven't read much by him.

Hemingway, Ernest: Well, of course I read Hemingway! He was one of those angsty authors I had to read in high school, which is probably why I don't read him anymore (to be fair, he isn't even remotely as depressing as Steinbeck). He did write one short story that I really, really love, but nobody ever assigns it; instead, teachers have kids read "The Hills Like White Elephants" (what are the man and woman REALLY talking about?!). The story I truly love is "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber." Yeah--me and my dead bodies/mysteries.

Herbert, Frank: And of course I've read Dune. I also watched the movie and the series. I'm not a huge fan in the I-have-to-read-every-book-in-this-progressive-series sense, but then, I generally don't read all the books in any fantasy/sci-fi series, especially series that last longer than 3 books (C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner series is a huge, huge, huge exception). Herbert is good. There is nothing new under the sun in fantasy or science-fiction (there's nothing new at all in contemporary realism); the authors who make a dent are the ones who reimagine all the nothing-new in such a way it seems new all over again. Herbert did that with Dune.

Hesse, Hermann: I read Siddhartha for my first A-Z List. Ehhh.

Heyer, Georgette is one of my favorite romance authors! And clean! She writes a combination of world-romance and character-romance, which means some of her books are more interesting to me than others. The first one I read, courtesy of my cousin Jennie, was These Old Shades. It is hilarious--Heyer has a great gift for snappy dialog. I also quite enjoy Heyer's mysteries (though not as widely read). The perfect Heyer combination comes in The Quiet Gentleman: Regency setting, romance, clever dialog, and possible murderer!  

Hill, Grace Livingston: I read my first Grace Livingston Hill as a teen: The Best Man. I enjoyed it. I've reread it since and also enjoyed it (it's a mistaken identity romance). However, in general, I can't read Hill's books anymore. She is a Christian romance writer who published mostly in the 1920s and 30s. Her works are rather dated--even by 1920s and 30s standards. Any in-your-face, odd female character will--by the end of a Grace Livingston Hill novel--be reduced to a puddle of demure middle-class behavior, meaning she  will dress well and practice philanthropy. Not go-to-the-jungles-and-starve philanthropy. But "bake cookies for your church's bake sale to fund intercity reading for people you will never actually meet" philanthropy. Not that I'm opposed to bake sales, by the way. I just never pretend it's the same as actually going into the intercity to teach reading. This isn't hardy Christianity or even philosophical Christianity. Or even, for that matter, fundamentalist Christianity. It's kind of an Avon-meets-Good-Works approach to Christianity. It's hard to take after one book. 

Hillerman, Tony: Tony Hillerman is a fascinating mystery author. I highly recommend his books. I like both the Joe Leaphorn and the Jim Chee series although I do prefer the mysteries where they work together. Like so many long-lived series, the early/middle books are better than the very late books (it's the Dickens problem of being forced to produce on demand: good for the discipline; not always good for art). Tony Hillerman's daughter, Anne Hillerman has recently produced a book based on her father's characters, Spider Woman's Daughter. It's not bad.

Hilton, James wrote Lost Horizon. It got made into a movie. I read the book. I saw the movie. Everything was okay. 

Hinton, S.E. was very popular when I was in high school or, at least, his book The Outsiders was. All the suburban middle-class people in my very suburban middle-class high school were just crazy out it. I read it. It was good. I wasn't enamored (but then I never saw the movie). Cool author's website!

Hockensmith, Steve writes the Holmes on the Range books. I really haven't gotten into the series, but I hugely enjoyed the first book.


Homer: Well, naturally! (Thanks to Joe for reminding me.) I've read both The Iliad and the Odyssey, the latter more often than the former. However, my short story "Battle Tactics" (published in Cicada magazine, January/February 2003) is based on the end of The Iliad. Homer is good--nice, fresh prose--the action writer of the ancient world!

Hornby, Nick: I read About a Boy after, I think, I saw the movie. It is a good movie, but there's a part of the book that I really like that didn't make it into the movie. The movie is more about the main character growing up/moving beyond his self-involvement. However, early in the book, he remarks that he is the wrong person to talk someone out of committing suicide. "You're the perfect person," his fellow conversationalist replies (I'm paraphrasing). "You enjoy so many little pointless things in life, like getting your hair cut and watching Countdown." I think there's a lot of truth to this statement, and I remember it whenever I get excited about an interlibrary book coming in. Small and simple pleasures make life rewarding!

Hosseini, Khaled's works, including A Thousand Splendid Suns fall into the they loved-they laughed-they struggled-they cried category of writing: like the sort of foreign films that get shown on college campuses. It's not my cup of tea.

Hugo, Victor: I tried reading Les Miserables. I really tried. Does it count that I saw the PBS special almost 100 times?

 
Hunter, Madeline: Madeline Hunter is a steamy/sensual romance writer. I like her earlier books. With the later ones, the heroines and heroes tend to blur together; this doesn't happen as often as one would expect with romances (although some romance writers are better at female characters than male characters and vice versa)! Hunter also suffers a tad from the Mr. Alpha Squared syndrome

Hurston, Zora Neale: I have mostly read about Zora Neale Hurston. She's one of the authors I discuss in my Mythology and Folklore course. She was a fascinating member of the Harlem Renaissance. To learn more about Hurston, I recommend the children's biography Sorrow's Kitchen: The Life and Folklore of Zora Neale Hurston.

2 comments:

Joe said...

No James Herriot?

Or Homer? I kid, I kid.

Kate Woodbury said...

Actually, I forgot Homer! He was on an earlier list, but I left him off this one. It is surprisingly difficult to remember the books I've read! And none of the libraries I go to have matching fiction collections.

What I should have written was, "Oh, I plan to do Homer when I tackle non-fiction. Libraries usually place him in the 800's" which is true, but, yeah, I just forgot.

James Herriot, however, I will tackle in non-fiction :)