Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I went into a self-named eighties dinner in Oceanside, CA today. The walls were filled with movie posters (DIRTY DANCING, FERRIS BUELLER, etc) CD covers, and TV shows playing on monitors (COSBY, CHEERS, DALLAS). But nowhere was there any mention of books.

What eighties book covers would you tack on those walls. What eighties novels defined that decade?

Loved GORKY PARK in 1981.

And for mainstream fiction, how about HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE by John Irving.

A few of my other favorite books from the 1980s

The Handmaid's Tale, The Color Purple, Beloved, The Remains of the Day, The Joy Luck Club, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Love in the Time of Cholera, Lonesome Dove, A Confederacy of Dunces, The Bean Trees, The Shawshank Redemption, Presumed Innocent, Housekeeping, Love Medicine, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, The Lover, What We Talk About When We Take About Love, Cathedral, various Alice Munro collections, The Sportswriter, Witches of Eastwick, Crossing to Safety, What's Bred in the Bone, Continental Drift, Flaubert's Parrot, Too Far to Go


Deb said...

All those Anne Rice vampire books (although I think the first one was published in the late '70s).

Linda McLaughlin said...

I found a list of 1980s bestsllers at the PW website. Lots of Stephen King's famous books appeared, like Cujo, plus The Bourne Identity, the glitz and glamour of Judith Krantz, and big historical novels by Michener and Jakes. Sounds like a fun theme for a restaurant, but they definitely need to add some books!

Hope you enjoyed being in SoCal.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am enjoying it immensely. I almost put up Bourne Identity. That was really a ground-breaker that still resonates today.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I knew a woman who only read Anne Rice novels. But today she would have a much wider reading choice.

Deb said...

Yeah, Anne Rice really started that trend--whether for good or bad, I'll leave that for others to decide.

George said...

I always liked the covers on the early 1980s Stephen King books: FIRESTATER, DIFFERENT SEASONS, and CHRISTINE.

Anonymous said...

All the choices mentioned seem appropriate. I'd have to study my databse for mystery authors to add to the list. Robert B. Parker is probably one, and maybe Sue Grafton.

Jeff M.

Kieran Shea said...


If music is the next question, well, that may take some time...

pattinase (abbott) said...

I will go with IRONWEED because Kennedy is amazing-the Albany books just incredible. But Easton Ellis, I find obnoxious in ways I can't discuss.

Todd Mason said...

I find BE Ellis pathetic in ways I can discuss. If the Syracuse class with Malzberg and Oates was impressive, the Bennington class of '86 lost its cache when Jonathan Lethem dropped out, leaving them only with Ellis and Tartt.

There actually were angsty vampires, not least Barnabas Collins, well before Rice...but few who managed to write so many words (So Many Words) about that angst as Rice...

In the '80s, the book I remember recommending that brought the customers back to our Crown (I've led a glamorous life), a cute lesbian couple a few years older than I was, as MARCO POLO AND THE SLEEPING BEAUTY by Grania Davis and Avram Davidson. They apparently were less thrilled with my second suggestion, YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS by Robert Coover.

Kent Morgan said...

I suspect that readers will be saying "who?" for many of the authors on my list. I went back to the mini-reviews that I have kept for years to see which books from the 1980s were right or near the top.
Uncivil Seasons- Michael Malone Red Baker - Robert Ward
Dangler - Charles Gaines
Buddies - James Whitfield Ellison
The Love Hunter - Jon Hassler
Spirit of the Hills - Dan O'Brien
Any Good Jordan - David Bottoms
Ghost - Peter Barsocchini
King of the Road - Paul Hemphill
The Sportswriter - Richard Ford
Shoeless Joe - W.P. Kinsella
Dancing Bear - James Crumley
Cadillac Jack - Larry McMurtry
Blues Notes Under a Green Felt Hat - David Ritz

Dan_Luft said...

The most 80s books I could think of were Bonfire of the Vanities and, (ick) Trump: Art of the Deal.

Todd Mason said...

Most '80s:

1) the Bantam New Fiction and Vintage Contemporaries lines and a few similar projects (WHITE PALACE, ANYWHERE BUT HERE, etc.--to stick with the novels later filmed with Susan Sarandon)

2) Tor (rather good) and Zebra (rather atrocious) horror lines...also, horror lines at paperback publishers generally

3) -punk fiction and their antitheses: Cyberpunk (and the Humanist); Splatterpunk (and Quiet Horror); Cowpunk (and Fiction of the West); Steampunk well before it became a clothing line (and Counterfactual)

4) Elaborate semipro magazines about fiction and related media, before the web got here to make that too easy to do online and not lose one's shirt with:

Todd Mason said...

Though not -punk'd, Urban Fantasy v. Epic Fantasy (in older terms, low v. high fantasy, not in terms of quality so much as degree of divorce from consensus reality...but half the fun is pretending what one is doing is Completely New).

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have read a lot of them, Kent. Especially like Hassler, Kinsella, Ward, Malone and of course, Crumley.
BONFIRE is the definitive book but I never read it.
Love WHITE PALACES and ANYWHERE BUT HERE.Books and movies both.

Todd Mason said...

...Penguin Contemporary American Fiction, Harper's Perennial Library and Dell's Laurel Editions relaunched/re-invigorated, the Scribner Signature Editions...

Todd Mason said...

There were better releases than WHITE PALACE, but there sure were worse ones, too (these lines, after all, produced BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY and LESS THAN ZERO...but also Lucius Shepard's LIFE DURING WARTIME and some else brilliant or close to it).

Tom Jenks in the LA TIMES in '87:

Gossip travels fast in publishing circles. The phone rings--a magazine editor wanting to know if I think Glenn Savan is the next McInerney. The phone rings again--a book editor calling to say she's heard that McInerney dismisses Savan, decides not to read him, after seeing Kakutani's glowing review in the daily New York Times. [...]
In the battle for reputation, Tama Janowitz stands outside rock clubs handing out Tama Janowitz flyers. Mona Simpson learns literary politics inside out. But as Savan's old classmate puts it, "Jayne Anne Phillips hustled but you forgive it because the work stands up."

Barrie said...

We have several 80s favorite books in common!