East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Ten favourite books of the year

  1. Taylor Branch, America in the King Years: This three volume, 2000+ page work, completed this year, is both the bio a great figure deserves and a history of a era in which America was transformed, as an overt form of discrimination ended and a more insidious form began. The fact that the violence and institutional complicity of the time is so shocking to those of us who weren't around at the time might mean things have changed for the better -- or that the Good Old Boys are now better at hiding their hand.
  2. Roy Fisher, The Long and the Short of It: This collection from Birmingham's Greatest Living Something-or-Other is usefully organised, meaning all the best stuff is at the front. Joycean.
  3. Ali Smith, The Accidental: Multiple narrators leave much unsaid, or, eeny meeny Pasolini.
  4. RETORT, Afflicted Powers: The most incisive post-September 11 analysis is also oddly hopeful for the future of The Left. Whatever gets you through the night.
  5. Mary Gaitskill, Veronica: The kind of novel you can cut yourself on.
  6. Robert Charles Wilson, Spin: What if one night the stars went out? What if you knew the end of the world was due in your lifetime? What if someone wrote a sci-fi book with lifelike characters?
  7. The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan: Yes, dead white male poet, but a good one. The Sonnets are an Important Work in the New American Poetry. The rest is quite funny.
  8. Sarah Waters, The Night Watch: You always hurt the one you love. You usually manage to hurt everyone else as well.
  9. Imre Kertesz, Fatelessness: Maybe he did deserve the Nobel. See the movie, but this is unadaptable.
  10. David Larsen, The Thorn: In poetry, inappropriateness is the new black, but no one is making it as elegant as LRSN is. Boiled dove pizzas, Islamic apocrypha, and some all-caps melodrama involing a pancake vendor and the beautiful Osama bin Laden.

Most unfortunately overrated: Edward St Aubyn, Mother's Milk.


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