Why Was I Not Informed Of This?: Works You Wish You'd Discovered Earlier

I’m midway through Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: I picked it up yesterday, it’s nearly 800 pages long, and already I’m half-way through it. My question is, WHY WAS I NOT INFORMED OF THIS BOOK EARLIER? It’s genius, probably the most original work I’ve read in a long time: it reads like a note-perfect blend of T. H. White, Thackeray, Jane Austen, Philip Pullman and Bernard Cornwell - and it’s so damn funny:

“Let us examine the case of rings. Rings have long been considered particularly suitable for this sort of magic by virtue of their small size. A man may keep a ring continually upon his finger for years, without exciting the smallest comment - which would not be the case if he shewed the same attachment to a book or a pebble - and yet there is scarcely a magician in history who, having once committed some of his skill and power to a magic ring, did not somehow lose that ring and was put to a world of trouble to get it back again.”

And that’s Tolkien drily and coolly eviscerated in a single paragraph, followed by two pages of tongue-in-cheek footnotes detailing an imaginary fairy tale in which a magician loses his magic ring in ludicrous circumstances and the troubles that ensue in recovering it. I can’t wait to finish reading this book so I can start it all over again.

So my question is, what works - books, movies, TV, comics - do you only wish that you’d latched onto much earlier?

The Sound and the Fury for me.

I will have to go with Mercedes Lackey in general. I read Take a Thief first and I haven’t been able to get enough of her books ever since then.

I’ve led a sheltered life. I’d never heard of Shane MacGowan or The Pogues before joining this message board, and even then, I didn’t hear their music until I caught If I Should Fall from Grace with God on the Sundance channel some years ago. Instant fan. I mean I started watching the movie halfway through, and by the closing credits, I was ordering their greatest hits albums on Amazon, and I haven’t stopped listening to them yet. My wife, by the way, has grown to hate The Pogues over the past couple of years. Something about how she should be able to listen to her CD’s once in a while. I start to listen, but then my Pogues CD starts playing and breaks my concentration.

I’m ashamed to admit that I did not know that the TV series In the Heat of the Night was based on a movie until the beginning of last year. I’ve since bought the DVD and made up for lost time, and my wife has grown to hate this too.

Kim doesn’t really count, because I’d heard of the work years before, but I never got around to reading it until last year, and now I want to learn Central Asian languages like Hindi and Persian. WHY THE HELL COULDN’T I HAVE READ THIS BOOK IN JUNIOR HIGH!? I might not have let myself grown into such a total doofus! :frowning:


How did you discover it? I’m always curious as to how to go about finding stuff I like, given the dross out there and the lack of time to sift through the chaff. Maybe there’s a load of stuff I’m overdue to discover, but don’t know how to find it. I’m the kind of person who recommends stuff to other people rather than the other way round, and I generally stumble upon my likes by accident, which seems a rather stochastic way of going about things. Mind you, I’ve picked up a few good recommendations in this forum, Firefly being one of them.

Except, it’s got about 100 pages of plot, and 700 pages of waffle.

Flatland by A. Square…it wasn’t until my senior year in college studying mathematics that I ever heard of it. I raved about it to my classmates and they had all read it already. Why the heck didn’t anyone tell me about it?!

The “waffle” is the story. The plot is unimportant.

And the movie was taken from John Ball’s novel. That novel was the first in a series about Virgil Tibbs.

I love the waffle. The footnotes crack me up.

The Band of Brothers miniseries. Which I got hooked on years later during a History Channel miniseries. And by that time, opportunities for discussion with others were either “oh, yeah, I vaguely remember watching that” or “why are you watching that old miniseries?”

Fortunately we rustled up a good discussion group over at televisionwithoutpity, enough to go through the series from the start, at least. But I won’t make the same mistake when the PTO series finally comes out!

I’ve always been a reader. And though nerd and geek is now cool, I was that back in the eighties.

When it wasn’t.

Freshman year. Some fellow band geeks took pity on me.

In my bookstore crawlings, I found this book. You might know it. Simple cover.

Smiley face with hands.

Don’t panic.

A small second hand paperback.

It blew my mind. Funny? and and everything???

I went crazy–I kept wanting to read passages from it to these friends.

“Erotica Gallumbits!” it’s crazy funny, Listen to this part!

Finally one girl turned to me and said “yes. we’ve read it.”

But–hey, Douglas Adams, ya’ll. I’ve loved him ever since.

I got a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English literature, wasting my time reading Keats[sup]1[/sup] and George Eliot[sup]2[/sup]. It wasn’t until years after I graduated that I stumbled–totally by chance–upon Philip Larkin and I was finally able to really, deeply connect with a poet.

[sup]1[/sup] No offense, Keats fans; he’s just not my cup of tea. REALLY not my cup of tea. He’s never even smelled my cup of tea. If Keats even saw my cup of tea, he’d go, “What’s this? Not tea, that’s for sure. In fact, I don’t even think this is a cup.”

[sup]2[/sup] I would issue a second disclaimer here, but George Eliot has no fans.

I love Philip Larkin.

For me, it’s the incredibly dark late-sixties english folk singer Bert Jansch; I’ve long been a vocal fan of that sort of “death folk” as done by Nick Drake and Jackson C. Frank, but nobody hooked me up with Jansch.

There was a Seattle-based, folk-music (for lack of a better term) trio called Uncle Bonsai. I grew up in that area, and knew people who liked them, but somehow I just never managed to hear them. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, one of my friends put Family Restaurant on a mix tape for me, and I was hooked. Alas, they had already broken up by then.

There are a few other fans here on the boards, but I’m surprised there aren’t more. Lyrically, UB are worthy successors to Tom Lehrer; and there’s more going on musically.

I did manage to track down their original CDs, including some side projects, I’ve even been to a couple of their reunion shows, and they’ve released more recordings in the last few years than they did when they were active. But I’m sorry I missed them in their heyday. Their performance of Visible Panty Line was supposed to be a real show-stopper.

Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore from Eroticon Three.

Ah, another geek for me to out-geek. :smiley:

Oh, and my personal favourite: The Dream of Gerontius. I was rising thirty when I heard it (there was a girl who invited me on a few pity dates after I’d had my engagement broken off), although I’d heard of it before. I said at the interval that I couldn’t believe I’d waited so long to hear it. Both Edward Elgar and John Henry Newman had a really good day at the office with that one.

Don’t speak so soon: it’s Eroticon 6. :slight_smile:

Eroticon Six, I believe.

Yes, I am rather hoopy, and am most certainly a frood who knows where his towel is. :smiley:

Fuck. :smack: