I've had the same conversation several times over the past few weeks at various bookish events. It never starts the same way, but it invariably gets to the same spot: a few novelists I discovered in college and in the years just after that I find myself wanting to revisit.
I believe it began with Muriel Spark which led to Jeanette Winterson which somehow led to Graham Swift. Julian Barnes was required reading for my french film studies (the film: Madame Bovary, the required book: Flaubert's Parrot) and Barnes somehow led me to Banville.
I'm strangely possessive of these writers because they gave me so much to think about and seemed to "get" me and the kinds of things I'd hoped to write at the precise time in my life when I needed to be gotten, so confused was I about my own talents and aspirations and dreams in the literary scene. (Working for a not-so-lovely lit agent did not help matters, but I digress.)
I've never re-read their work because I've somehow relegated their novels and essays to that time in my life, that period of grasping onto ideas and devouring them whole, keeping whatever literary nutrients I could to propel me forward. There was also, of course, my near total obsession with Vintage International books at that time. It didn't hurt that many of these books were issued by Vintage with their delectable and infinitely collectible color-coded spines. (Another digression, worthy of many posts.)
It may be that I'm nostalgic for all that grasping and hoping. Or perhaps I'm just tired of the new new new novel that has become de riguer reading in many literary parts. These writers and the works I read back then are calling to me in a way I can't ignore. Just thinking of Swift's Waterland brightens me up. Spark's Loitering With Intent is a classic I'd like to be steeped in again. Winterson's Art & Lies is begging to be rediscovered. A re-read of Banville's Book of Evidence sounds like home.