After reading Caleb J Ross’ excellent post about the role of social media in an author’s work/persona/something, I thought that I should take his advice. I’ve never really posted much non book -related stuff on here, because… well, I don’t really know why. Busy, maybe? Anyway, there is a lot of great stuff going on in the Lit world at the moment, so I want to try to highlight that more.
I’ll start with the first half of a list, namely the books I read last year. Blake Butler posted one of these last year, I believe, and it was awe-inspiring. I decided to keep track of everything as sort of an experiment. Granted, Blake’s list might contain less guns and explosions, but I know what I like.
I know what you’re thinking, too, that everyone’s already posted their 2010 lists, who cares. But it’s quite ingenious, actually. See, while everyone else was inundating the interweb with lists, I lurked in the wings, waiting to catch the web unawares. Or I was just lazy. Either way, here’s the first half of what I read, and some thoughts on the books.
Quick self-promotion, too: Tomorrow (Saturday) I’ll be reading at the Second Last Rites series in College Park, and Sunday I’ll be reading at Last Rites in Baltimore. Next week, I’ll be at the Live Nude Words event at AWP with a plethora of writers more talented than I.
And yes, that is my cat above. She slays.
Sweetheart (Chelsea Cain)
Heartsick (Chelsea Cain)
Evil at Heart (Chelsea Cain)
My first foray into Chelsea Cain. She creates such complex characters, akin to Jude from the Phineas Poe trilogy by Will Chrsitopher Baer, but makes them her own. Can’t wait for the next book.
We Take Me Apart (Molly Gaudry)
Beautiful, haunting, ethereal. Molly Gaudry molds breath into beautiful words.
Major Inversions (Gordon Highland)
This book starts as something, turns into something else, then implodes, leaving me wondering how Gordon brought me so far without my knowing. The combination of cock-rock imagery with a stunning sense of humor—not to mention the man is a damn wordsmith’s wordsmith—totally floored me. He should do great things.
The Fall (Albert Camus)
Excellent. But then again, it’s Camus. It should be.
The Open Curtain (Brian Evenson)
Last Days (Brian Evenson)
Fugue State (Brian Evenson)
Caleb Ross always talks about Evenson, so I finally picked up some of his work. He writes the way I wanted to before I knew I wanted to write. Disturbing, gutting stories, unraveling in prose that could be used to frame an original Mucha.
The Sea Came in at Midnight (Steve Erickson)
Zeroville (Steve Erickson)
I believe you experience Erickson more than read him. I read Rubicon Beach and Tours of the Black Clock in 2009 and my understanding of fiction changed. Though I enjoyed the short story of Zeroville more than the novel, The Sea… did terrible things to me.
Beat the Reaper (Josh Bazell)
Super funny, well-written. Read it in two days. Good rec from The Cult.
A Long Way Gone (Ishmael Beah)
Harrowing account of a former child soldier in Sierra Leone. If it can bring my freshmen classes to near tears, you know it’s good.
Generation X (Douglas Coupland)
There’s a reason I teach this novel. That reason is it rules.
Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger)
This one too. And it’s refreshing to see my students as affected by it as I was when I first read it.
Bad Behavior (Mary Gaitskill)
I wish I could write half as good as her.
Hell’s Half Acre (Will Christopher Baer)
Penny Dreadful (Will Christopher Baer)
About the tenth or twelfth time I’ve read these. Don’t know why I skipped Kiss Me Judas, though. Maybe I forgot to write it down.
Jack Wakes Up (Seth Harwood)
Awesome, awesome, awesome. Did I mention it kicked ass, too? Seth’s newest novel is the I-can’t-wait-to-read-it Young Junius, an origin story for JWU’s Junius Ponds. He told me that The Wire was a big influence in writing it. Yeah. Exactly. Seth also runs Crimewav.com, and the site is as great as the man.
A Common Pornography (Kevin Sampsell)
A very honest memoir from the publisher of Future Tense books. Funny and gross and poignant, you should all read Kevin Sampsell. And he’s a wicked nice guy.
Books of 2010, Part Two, coming soon.