East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Thirteen books I liked in 2007

Screw novels. The only recently published novel I managed to get through this year was (i) written during WW2 and (ii) a fucking masterpiece. I do have one sure shot lined up for the near future.

1. Irene Nemirovsky, Suite Francaise: Sharper than Jean Renoir and almost as compassionate.
2. David Shapiro, New and Selected Poems: A concise argument for his inclusion on the New York School's Mt Rushmnore. Sorry Kenneth Koch.
3. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma: Interpreting "you are what you eat" morally.
4. Louise Richardson, What Terrorists Want: Shockingly, not heavenly virgins.
5. Elizabeth Willis, Meteoric Flowers: Some biology here, some philosophy there: Erasmus Darwin would be proud. And confused.
6. Alison Bechdel, Fun Home: Crumb's family was just as messed up, but Bechdel managed to turn out nice. But not soft.
7. Irina Denezhkina, Give Me (Songs for Lovers): The New Russia: just as drunk and emo as the Old Russia, but with high-speed internet.
8. Christopher Middleton, The Tenor on Horseback: Old fart still smells better than anyone when he's on his game.
9. Julie Phillips, James Tiptree Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon: Literary drag as liberation.
10. David M. Oshinsky, Polio: An American Story: In the good old days, drug companies profiteered from prevention more than cure.
11. Ed Brubaker, Captain America Omnibus: R.I.P. American democracy.
12. Douglas Wolk, Reading Comics: Sometimes it's hard to do, especially when Dave Sim is writing.
13. Gene Roberts & Hank Klibanoff, The Race Beat: Eisenhower/Kennedy-era America was so racist that Negro reporters couldn't cover civil rights stories without getting the shit kicked out of them, or worse.

Might be number one next year: Peter Cole's anthology The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, which I'm three-eights through, might be the most revelatory work of translation of the decade. The few pages of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao I read in the airport bookstore were the only pages of a new novel I read this year that were anywhere near the level of Suite Francaise.



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