The Broke and the Bookish inquire: what are some of your favorite debuts by authors?
In no particular order…and bear in mind these are just the first ten authors I thought of that qualified.
1. Syrup, Max Barry
Max Barry loves to satirize corporate America, and this take on advertising and marketing may be his best novel.
2. Life in a Medieval City, Frances and Joseph Gies
Before seeing this book in the store a few years ago, my perception of the medieval era was that of William Manchester’s: the Middle Ages were a long, bleak time in which nothing besides war ever happened. As I found out through this book and later studies, the medieval epoch had a life of its own, albiet not as philosophically rich or politically stable as the Roman period.
3. Stiff, Mary Roach
Mary Roach started a series of books incorporating interesting science, humor, and gruesome detail with Stiff, which I read in late September and enjoyed far more than was appropriate, given this was a book about the uses of dead people.
4. A Stitch in Time, Andrew Robinson
Andy Robinson’s debut novel is remarkable for being the first Deep Space Nine novel set after the end of the television series, but is notable as well for being penned by the actor who portrayed the mysterious Mr. Garak — plain, simple Garak, an ordinarily tailor and not in any way connected to the fearsome intelligence agency of Cardassia, the Obsidian Order.
5. The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
This is, as far as I know, Dawkins’ first published book, and one that still informs my science reading. While the book’s focus is a gene-centered view of evolution, he also coins the word ‘meme’ to describe ideas which are passed from person to person and change over time: a ‘meme’ is the building block of cultures. Meme has become a very popular word: how many Facebook and Blogger quizzes, surveys, and games have been labeled as such?
6. Barefoot Boy with Cheek, Max Shulman
Bareboot Boy is not the first Shulman novel I read, though it’s the only other Shulman work I’ve read that comes close to matching the brilliant wit of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. It’s a satire of college life, particularly liberal-arts academica, and so delightfully silly that even reading my comments on it amuses me. Good memories.
7. Redwall, Brian Jacques
This was my first epic fantasy novel, one that introduced the world of Mossflower to me. I’d never read a story like it before, and even though I probably haven’t read it in a decade, I can still remember how many little stories it contained inside the greater narrative.