I'm burning through Dan Simmons's (thank you for showing me the way to write that, Strunk and White) Carrion Comfort; it's my eighth Simmons experience. Now, were I to make a list of my favorite authors, Simmons comes nowhere near my top five. And yet, with every novel I read of his, he never lets me down. Sure, some have been okay-to-good (the Endymion novels, Drood) to downright masterful (The Terror, which would have been in my top five favorite novels were it not for a lengthy digression about an Eskimo myth in the penultimate chapter), but the man just never writes a bad book. Who are your authors that you feel are always at least okay-to-good to downright masterful?
Discovering that David Mitchell is pretty solid. I started with Cloud Atlas and now can't get enough. I've already read Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and am currently about half-way through number9dream. He has very strong narrative control and versatility - I love him and hate him at the same time.
Cormac McCarthy- I'm on my book number 3 with him.
Just to name a few.
Tim O'Brien. I've never been sorry I read one of his books. Not even a little.
Robert Jordan. I love his Wheel of Time series. I'm a dork like that. So sad that he has left us. Perhaps now he can cut back a little on his exposition.
I'm going to say Terry Pratchett. I must have read forty of his books, and while some were better than others right now I can't think of any that were let-downs.
The guy knows his game well though and doesn't take many risks. I have often wondered how he'd fare writing something that had no comical element whatsoever.
Also, Irvine Welsh and Jeff Noon. Have yet to read a stinker by either of those. Bret Ellis almost makes my list, but I am not sure I really got on too well with Glamorama.
Clevenger has yet to publish anything that isn't good.
@AD In the Lake of the Woods is one of my favorite books. Still haven't figured out what happened at the end though.
Terry Pratchett is definitely a consistently good writer. I can't say I've ever regretted reading anything by him and/or wanted my 2-3 hours back (I read fast).
Will Christopher Baer.
I started off with his short stories in middleschool and ever since then I randomly get the urge to read something of his and I'm always pleased. Breakfast of Champions is definately on my top ten list.
For this I am trying to only think of writers that have done at least five books. Using that as a criteria he is the only one I could think of. Even the best writers usually have one book that I can't get into.
up until Imperial Bedrooms, Bret Easton Ellis. IB wasn't bad, just not nearly as good as it could've/should've been. Now he's talking about doing a sequal/prequal combo with American Psycho. I hope that one isn't the same token effort.
Cormac McCarthy, even though I've only read four of his so far.
I'll third Terry Pratchett. Fuck, now I'm blanking. Mass market style: Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin. Elmore Leonard, always entertaining.
Oh, Michael Chabon. Pretty much love everything. Harry Crews, Joe R. Lansdale.
James Lee Burke. i prefer his dave robicheaux series but all the others i have read are good. he's a great writer- has everything nailed: style, story, pacing. i can't talk about him enough.
also, i like Elmore Leonard. but i actually think his earlier work was written to produce a more lush reading experience. My favorite is an earlier novel of his called Cuba Libre. I do like that his books read like screenplays however his writing has become a bit on the cold side because of how lean it is. it's just not as lush of an experience as it once was. That said, he's never let me down.
anyhow, those are the only two i could think of off the top of my head. i wanted to make sure someone mentioned James Lee Burke because he's a badass mainstream writer.
I always enjoy Pat Conroy too. He paints pictures in my head.
@jacksusername I loved Penny Dreadful, but Hell's Half-Acre was a letdown. Might have to read it again.
Every writer lets me down in the end. Sad but true.
Only two living writers never let me down: Thomas Harris and Richard Price. Tellingly, they only put out every five-to-ten years....
Kind of like my wife. Ba dum.
LOL - Henny Youngman, eat your dead heart out....
Holy shit! Boone!
@Boone - Hannibal let me down.
You know who never lets me down. Avery...
I hope you mean that with love and kindness.
Of course! And amusing anecdotes on her son. I actually want a kid.
Well, he thinks you are pretty, so you can visit!
Joseph Wambaugh has yet to let me down. Tom Clancy as well.
Dave! How ya liking the hipster festival!?
It's okay, Got kinda wild last night. There's something just a little unsettling being the only body blocking hundreds of people from getting in the door to see a show.
Tonight I'm getting some "relief," I"ll be at an office building keeping it from being used as a toilet.
Sounds like fun pimp. "Um, sir, you can't shit here, that's down the hall"
So far Vonegut and Dashiel Hammet.
I love Dashiel Hammet. Every book I've read of his is different, but equally gritty and brutal.
Huxley. I enjoyed each book he wrote more than the last I read. I finished on Island and immediately thereafter went from person to person in the Miami airport trying to explain Huxley's utopia.
Peter David. But it's like... it's this childhood thing. But still, I mean, I've reread his books as an adult and the ones he's published in recent years and the truth is that I still enjoy the hell out of each and every one.
John Ajvide Lindqvist hasn't let me down so far - looking forward to his fourth novel, Little Star when that's released in paperback at the end of August.
James Baldwin, Jane Austen, Chuck Palahniuk, Banana Yoshimoto.
Honestly, I've never read a Palahniuk book I didn't enjoy. Even Pygmy (which took a lot of effort to entirely understand) and Tell-All (which I feel was geared toward an older generation) were both entertaining and well written.
Tom Spanbauer too, though I have yet to read Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, and I Loved You More. His writing style never disappoints me.
And I agree with whoever said it up there somewhere, that Clevenger has yet to write a bad book. Wait let me rephrase that. Clevenger has yet to write a book that isn't devastatingly epic. Only two so far, but he's 2 for 2.
I've enjoyed every Cormac McCarthy book i've read. That's about it. Even my favorites like Don Delillo and James Ellroy and Neil Gaiman have disappointed me once.
Nick Hornby, Chuck Klosterman, Poe, and Richard Matheson.
Palahniuk, too, mostly. There are a few I haven't read, but Snuff was a little painful to get through. There was so much tension built through the story, which is an example of how good of a writer he is, but to moments that were mostly too obvious for the tension they were given. It wasn't tension like waiting for lottery numbers or to see if the reciever is going to catch the Hail Mary pass. More like somebody dumping you but taking a long time to get to the point. Many times throughout it I feel like I was going, "God, I know what's coming, just get there."
Cormac McCarthy, definitely. Thomas Harris as well, but with so few books he's not exactly statistically significant in this sort of discussion.
I tried reading Delillo's Libra and hated it. Maybe it's just me.
What is a good place to start with McCarthy? I've tried him a few times and it just wasn't clicking.
@Dwayne -- As an entry point I'd either recommend No Country for Old Men or All the Pretty Horses. I'd say I'm a fan, but casual enough that there are four or five I haven't looked at.
I honestly cannot think of an author I enjoy that hasn't let me down at least once.
Nick Hornby is the only example I can think of, and he has some books that are stronger than others. Pretty much all of my favorite authors have had weak books. I just read Mrs. God by Peter Straub. It was a bit of a mess and a definite let-down. Ira Levin's Son of Rosemary is the definition of let-down. Really, I find let-down's to be pretty comforting. I hate it when everything someone writes is good. It makes it feel like it would be hard to attain that. Seeing weak writing from good writers makes me feel better about my own prospects.