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Good first novels


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I have read a lot of first novels over the past couple of years, and I have been disappointed by many.

 

Typically, the author seems to have a good premise, but often doesn't know where to go with it, and it fizzles out or ends badly.

 

So, I'd like to know from the good people of BGO: who wrote wonderful first novels which have stood the test of time?

 

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks comes to mind for me.

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I agree with you MM,a lot of first novels do seem to have a cracking beginning then fizzle out, Elizabeth is Missing is one of thse for me. Here are a few of the really good first novels that come to mind:

 

.A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray - I believe that she was already a short story writer and had written stories that were incorporated into the novel.

 

Into the Darkest Corner - Elizabeth Haynes, an excellent thriller.

 

Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson

 

The Night Circus - Erin Morganstern

 

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith (though she was already a playwright)

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Oh, the Kate Atkinson is a good one. I will look at the others, thanks.

 

I was wondering exactly why I have read so many first novels. It's partly because I have bought the Costa (?) Prize shortlist from the Book People, but a lot of my impulse purchases have been first novels too. I think publishers are putting a lot of promotion into new names, rather than established, experienced writers.

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Oh, and just for you MM as you like books about batty, eccentric members of the aristocracy, a first biography

 

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire - Amanda Foreman.

 

Yes, I agree, publishers do seem to put more effort into promoting new, untried talent, especially if said talent is young and pretty.

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Partial list off the top of my head( though I did Google a couple to make sure they were first novels)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest-Ken Kesey

City of Night-John Rechy

V.-Thomas Pynchon

Wolf; a False Memoir-Jim Harrison

The Big U-Neal Stephenson

Journey to the End of the Night- Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Another Roadside Attraction-Tom Robbins

The Naked and the Dead-Norman Mailer

Catch-22 -Joseph Heller

Bright Lights, Big City-Jay McInerney

Fight Club-Chuck Palahniuk

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter-Carson McCullers

Wise Blood-Flannery O'Conner

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Just remembered Prep by Curtis Sittenfield, much better than the books that followed imo.  It's a coming of age story and I gave it to my daughter, then aged 19, and she gave it back saying, 'I wish I'd read that when I was 15...'

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Just remembered Prep by Curtis Sittenfield, much better than the books that followed imo.  It's a coming of age story and I gave it to my daughter, then aged 19, and she gave it back saying, 'I wish I'd read that when I was 15...'

I also liked Prep, Viccie!

 

Another one came to mind: was We Need To Talk About Kevin a first novel? I think so.

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Eighth, according to FantasticFiction

And if I recall from the postscript on "the new republic", she wrote that before "we need to talk about Kevin", but no one wanted to publish it at the time she wrote it.

 

I'll give the subject some thought and get back to this

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  • 2 years later...

Some absolutely corking first novels:

 

Junky by William S. Burroughs

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote

City of Night by John Rechy

Sucking Sherbet Lemons by Michael Carson

Perfume by Patrick Suskind

 

I wish that Suskind had written more.  He's not remotely prolific!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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