Someone did the Mount Rushmore thing on a podcast I was listening to the other day. You know: pick the four people you would install on your own personal Rushmore if you were carving it to recognise importance in X field. I’ve always quite liked it as a parlour game/meme. So, while staring vacantly into space, or whatever other important writerly task I was carrying out the other day, I idly started musing about my own personal Mount Rushmores. Not just people, though. Books, films, etc. Which I know is impractical, given the difficulties and indeed tediousness of carving 60ft book likenesses into a cliff, but hey ho. It’s just a bit of fun.
A bit of fun I spent far more time than is sensible musing about, mind you. Thing is, these are not necessarily my favourite items from each category (though a lot of them are), let alone the ‘best’. They’re the things that came to mind when I thought: ‘You’re going to memoralise this is gargantuan stone effigy, as an exemplar of its kind. What you going to choose?’ That, it turns out, is ever so slightly, subtly different from favourite, best, ultimate, whatever other superlative you care to apply. I don’t quite how or why it’s different, but it is. It’s got something to do with being representative of the high points in my personal experience of whatever category is under consideration. I think. Maybe.
I do know, as is traditional with this kind of thing, that if you asked me again next week, I’d likely have a whole different set of answers.
Mount SF Books Rushmore
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Not sure definining this as sf is really accurate or informative, but let’s call it that for the sake of argument.
Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller. There’s something about this book – something I can’t quite put my finger on – that’s captivated me ever since I first read it long, long ago.
Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. More than one book, technically. But my games, my rule-bending. A crazy ride, that maybe tails off a little bit towards the end, but when I first read it it felt entertaining, wild, inventive in a way none of my other sf reading had for some time.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Arguably the first true sf novel. Arguably still the best. Genius. Nuff said.
Mount Books in General Rushmore
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I do like a bit of old Russian novelising, and if that’s the kind of thing you’re into it doesn’t get much better than this. (Though let’s be honest, Crime and Punishment is also rather good).
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Short, sharp, to-the-point and very nicely written. Me like.
Frankenstein by you-know-who. So good it gets onto two Mount Rushmores. Nuff said. Again.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding. A close call, but this sneaked in ahead of various other possibilities, by virtue of being short, sharp, to-the-point and very nicely written. Which I’ve heard somewhere before, I think? But it also has the merit of being self-evidently ‘important’, saying something potentially profound, while being not only enormously accessible and straightforward but also not at all self-important or too-clever-by-half.
Mount Films Rushmore
Seven Samurai. Beautiful to look at, thematically rich, laden with atmosphere.
The Godfather. Part I or II, as you like; in fact, both together. Let us not speak of anything subsequent to that.
Bladerunner. As good as SF cinema ever got; at least I can’t think of anything better off the top of my head. The plot and acting are all fine, but of course it’s the design and mood that really sticks.
The Graduate? Maybe? I dunno. First three came pretty easily, to be honest, but number four’s a bit harder to pin down. I really like The Hustler. Heck, there’re undoubtedly dozens and dozens of films that I like almost as much as, or more than, The Graduate but I’m blanking on them at the moment. So The Graduate it is. Nice music.
Mount Countries Rushmore
I’ve no idea why I would want to put countries up on a Mount Rushmore. It just popped into my head while I was thinking about other stuff. I’ve no idea what the criteria are: I think it’s just the places that are lodged, affectionately or impressively, in my memory.
United States of America. I’m a USAphile.
Malaysia. I like Indonesia too, but Malaysia gets the nod just because I’ve been there more than once. That whole part of the world is just astonishing, from a culture, energy, culinary, wildlife, etc etc point of view.
Chile. I’ve only seen a small bit of Chile (apart from the capital), but it was a good bit: the south. Wild landscapes unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. And by all acounts the rest of the country is astonishing too. I liked it quite a bit.
Mount TV Series Rushmore
The Wire. No contest. Best TV series ever made. I haven’t even seen all of it, and I know that much. Debate neither necessary nor permitted.
And you know what? After The Wire, I couldn’t think of a single other series that I’d obviously put up there. That’s ridiculous, because I’m sure there’ve been other series that I completely adored at the time of watching, but I honestly can’t think of a single one that’s an obvious candidate for sculptural immortality. I do know none of them are as good as The Wire, though, so I guess it’s OK; my TV Rushmore has but one carving upon it, but it’s a good one …