Reccomend me Fun and Complex Novels

Hello fellow Dopers,

I’ve recently acquired a taste for what is sometimes called “post-modern” fiction or meta-fiction, whatever it is called the main features are many charaters, some word play, digressive plots etc.

In any case, I like complex novels with multple narratives that offer different perspectives and are unlike other novels.

The novels that I like that I have in mind for the purposes of thread orientation are:

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon
Underworld by Don DeLillo
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
Dhalgren by Samuel Delany
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Europe Central by William T. Vollman
The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers
The Sot Weed Factor by John Barth
House of Leaves by Mark Danilewski
Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes
The Tunnel by William H. Gass
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchel
Ulysses by James Joyce

And so on. I have read all of Thomas Pynchon and lots of Foster Wallace.

For my purposes I like something somewhat more challenging than Murikami, though he is quite good too.

On the other hand, I’m not interested in Finnegans Wake. :stuck_out_tongue:

I like to read and collect this type of fiction, and I am aware of more books like this, but there must be many authors and novels of this vein that I am missing. I like all cultures and backgrounds so it does not have to be Euro-American centric, so any idea would help.

Any reccomendations more or less based on the type of books on the list would be much appreciated!


You mentioned John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor; his *Lost in the Funhouse *(short) and *Giles Goat Boy *(long) would probably please you, too.

The Bridge by Iain Banks, as well as lots of other stuff by him, including his Iain M Banks science fiction.

Also: Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, and though I haven’t read it yet, Lanark by Alasdair Gray would also appear to fit your requirements.

The most meta novel imaginable was actually written 250 years ago: Tristram Shandy by Lawrence Sterne.

At this point, I don’t know just how fun or how complex you mean, but let me pitch Carl Hiaasen to you. Lucky You is a good one. Also Double Whammy, Stormy Weather, Sick Puppy, Native Tongue, Skinny Dip, and Star Island. All those 6 include Skink, a wonderful character.

You might check out “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Try China Mieville, especially his Bas-Lag trilogy, Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council.

Thanks for the recommendations so far, this is the type of stuff I like.

AskNott, I know it’s hard to define. I like novels that are challenging force you to try to solve parts of what is going on.

I suppose surrealism is an important aspect to it, as are multiple characters.

These types of books tend to be un conventional to more typical novels like 1984 or The Stranger.

More books of this ilk would be: Hopscotch by Cortazar and on a simpler level the superb Buddha’s Little Finer by Victor Pelevin, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in these things, this book is not too hard, but has some of the aspects of what I like.

More examples would be The Name of the Rose by Umberto Ecco, Liminal States by Zach Parsons, The Baroque Cycle Triology by Neal Stephenson which does not have complex sentences, but has a vast array of fiction and historical characters like Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz among others.

I suppose I will re-state multiple characters, surrealism and multiple narratives. Although of course, such books need not have all of them, if they can combine 2 of these elements, I suppose it qualifies.

But with what I have seen from these recommendations, they look quite accurate.:slight_smile:

At a first glimpse Lucky You would fit such a category, I don’t want to be too strict in my definition, but zany plots are a plus.

Try The Gone Away World, by Nick Harkaway. It’s got war, and an apocalypse, and kung fu, and mimes. And digressions galore. Plus the best ever analysis of the taxonomy of pencil-necks, and how people ascend the pencil-neck ladder.

In the not-so-serious vein, you might look at some of Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld books, especially those with Death as a character, such as Mort or Reaper Man.

I have the Gone Away World, thanks for that.

Yes, Mort look like a type of book I would like.

One final author I forgot to mention that I really like is Tom Robbins which are humerous and weird, books like Jitterbug Perfume and Skinny Legs and All.

Barth’s LETTERS is a masterpiece of complexity. It does help if you have read all of Barth’s previous works first, but you can manage with just one or two. LETTERS ties them all together in a structure that’s about as complex as it gets.

The book, subtitled, “an old time epistolary novel by seven fictitious drolls & dreamers each of which imagines himself factual,” is made up of letters by characters in his previous books, plus one by a new character and a seventh by the author himself. The dates of the letters, when put on a calendar turned sideways, spell out the word “LETTERS.” If you take the first letter in each letter and place in on the calendar the day they were written, it spells out the subtitle. The letters are presented to the reader chronologically by the day of the week they were written; thus all the Monday letters are first presented, then the Tuesday ones, etc. (this means things are not necessarily in chronological order). Each day of the week is assigned to one character from Barth’s works.

And that’s just the structure. The story is even more complex.

The book was not considered a success, but I loved it.

Your list has a bunch of my favorite books in it and I recently found and LOVED A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava. I think it fits well, although not exactly difficult.

TryDalva and the Road Home

They are exactly this:

Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is big, engrossing, and has extensive footnotes. It’s about the return of magic to Regency England - almost as if Jane Austen wrote a Harry Potter book. Highly recommended.

Would Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon qualify?

Yes Cryptonomican would qualify.

Good feedback, thanks!

You mentioned The Name of the Rose, but Foucault’s Pendulum sounds closer to the type of book you’re looking for. Then, of course, there’s The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, though that may edge too close to Joyce territory.