An interesting blog piece over on the Guardian looks at authors famous for the wrong book.
I'm not sure I agree with many of his conclusions. I think, when he's talking about Captain Corelli's Mandolin, John Self may be thinking of the film adaptation, which is lousy. The novel is pretty good. I have a tremendous fondness for the early de Bernieres novels, especially Don Emmanuel, while Senor Vivo has the most outstanding (and upsetting) piece of writing I've ever read, but the Latin American trilogy are magic realist novels and at the moment magic realism is out of fashion because - well, anything is possible in it. It's an easy cop out for an author. Captain Corelli was de Bernieres' first straight novel and it stands up well. It's just a simple truth that Penelope Cruz will fuck up any film adaptation of a novel (All The Pretty Horses, anyone?). Mind you, de Bernieres' next novel, Birds Without Wings, is simply unreadable.
Vonnegut - yes Cat's Cradle is better than Slaughterhouse-5, but much better? I don't think so. Kurt's just Kurt, and let's be grateful for that.
Catch-22 is the only Joseph Heller I've read, so I can't comment on him. I suspect I may not be alone in that, either, which tells its own story.
Ishiguro - The Unconsoled genuinely is unreadable. It is simply awful. The idea is strong - narration so unreliable it embraces the impossible. Surrealism on the page. But the delivery is so laboured, the characters so tedious, the set-up so dull that I found it impossible to get further than half way. The best Ishiguro, by a country mile, is When We Were Orphans. That's the one where he learned from his mistakes in The Unconsoled and got the style right. The last fifty or so pages are just wonderful.
William Golding - I'd agree with virtually any of his novels over Lord of the Flies, though I may just be jaundiced by having studied it to death at school. But Pincher Martin and The Inheritors are both outstanding novels, in a different class from LOTF.
Who else? I have to mention Cormac McCarthy, I guess. Blood Meridian is not his greatest work, it's Suttree. John Updike - the Rabbit books are generally considered his best, but for sheer emotional pull I can't get The Poorhouse Fair, his first novel, out of my head. Toni Morrison? She hasn't written a good novel yet so it's impossible to say. Jean-Jacques Rousseau for The Social Contract or Confessions? Reveries of a Solitary Walker is one of the greatest pieces of autobiography ever written.
I expect there are others.