Saturday, January 21, 2012
Year in Reading
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem (12)
Boomerang by Barry Hannah (14)
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence (5)
Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (11)
Reinhart's Women by Thomas Berger (4)
Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray (6)
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (10)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling (25)
The Great Gatsby by F Scott (13)
I no longer believe in the sun: Letters to Katie Couric by Derek Fenner (21)
The Rainbow by DH Lawrence (24)
This is Orson Welles by Peter Bogdonavich (9)
2001 Australian Nights by Dave Graney (19)
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (15)
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (17)
Crazy in Berlin by Thomas Berger (18)
Pages from a Cold Island by Fred Exley (8)
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy (1)
Bats Out of Hell by Barry Hannah (3)
Neighbors by Thomas Berger (16)
Never Die by Barry Hannah (22)
Black Boy by Richard Wright (7)
George Sanders: An Exhausted Life by Peter Van derBeets (20)
Norwood by Charles Portis (2)
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O' Connor (23)
Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem NYC novel written with so much dash and flair you excuse the exceedingly nerdy premise. Instant classic!
Boomerang by Barry Hannah
Jazzy lit virtuoso with a spiked-stud punk credo.
Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence Lawrence's ode to coal and the men who mine it. Essential read for sons of mothers, their mothers, and to a lesser extent their lovers. Became a communist manifesto embraced by wordsmiths such as Richard Wright.
Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
Instructive surrealism/illogical beauty. Child-like! Life-changing!
Reinhart's Women by Thomas Berger
The last Reinhart novel has more heart, more sweetness to its core than it does women and food, and there's a lot of women and food in this definitive Eighties novel from the great heir to Twain.
Swimming to Cambodia by Spalding Gray
Gray documents his misadventures in Thailand and Cambodia filming The Killing Fields. A superb blend of darkness (recounting the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge) and light (Gray is a charming neurotic narrator).
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
A supreme example of stretching high comedy over 500 farcical pages, really quite awesome.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
The first fifty pages were pretty good angst.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott
Weirder than I remembered, eternally mysterious and beautiful.
I no longer believe in the sun: Letters to Katie Couric by Derek Fenner
An obsession with Katie Couric yields impressive high comedy.
The Rainbow by DH Lawrence
Went off Lawrence a bit after this. A slog. Felt like Twain on an island with nothing but Henry James.
This is Orson Welles by Peter Bogdonavich
If someone said that I had an opportunity to go live on an island where it would just be me and Orson, I would seriously leave today. After a certain length of time, I would come to want his movies there too and there would be no food left.
2001 Australian Nights by Dave Graney
I like how it closes with a meditation on death. Beautiful. Actually death walks among the pages of this memoir from one of Australia's unique personalities/ musical treasures like the Atomic Rooster song David Nichols put on a mix-CD he gave me for my 35th birthday. Really feel Dave's presence as a noble artist with such an insatiable thirst for the culture around him and his seeking answers to life through his art.
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
Its ample ruminations on love came at a less than ideal moment. Certainly one to read when you are in love!
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
Is there a nastier low-rent femme fatale in American fiction than Faye Greener? The cockfighting, the midgets. Opens the door that Flannery rather assuredly walked through.
Crazy in Berlin by Thomas Berger
Evil, and a testament to Berger's genius. His debut written in his twenties, Wellesian.
Pages from a Cold Island by Fred Exley
The sex is off-the-charts and so is the Mailer-esque writing, grandiose and full of walloping torment. He writes Portis off for his “folksy parlance”. Brilliant and hilarious.
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy
Page after page of this book was just unbelievable. Some of my most favorite times of the year were spent reading this.
Bats Out of Hell by Barry Hannah
Contains a good deal of Hannah's most brilliant writing.
Neighbors by Thomas Berger
H texted me the other day: “Read Neighbors in three days. My favorite book of 2011 or 2012. Perfect economical dialogue. Not a wasted word. Berger has a fantastic quote regarding Neighbors and how it will be misunderstood. I'll forward it on.” He never forwarded it on.
Never Die by Barry Hannah
I'd like to give this bat-shit crazy western to a Zane Grey lover. Curious if Cormac M ever read him.
Black Boy by Richard Wright
The prose is so clean you could eat off it.
George Sanders: An Exhausted Life by Peter Van derBeets It's entirely too bad we never got his life in words because his eloquence and wit offscreen was as finely wrought as the words Mankiewicz and other wrote for him. Him and Zsa Zsa, the great modern pair.
Norwood by Charles Portis
Slight, but a good model for what I am trying to do. I love it.
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O' Connor
Not so much heartless, as not real empathetic. I'm reading Spalding Gray's Journals and his girlfriend criticizes his efforts at fiction saying he does not have enough empathy for people. Personally I don't know if I do either! Story collection ends with an old curmudgeon, who gets a change of heart, but it's too late. My recommendation: play Smog's Wild Love while reading Stroke of Good Fortune. It's a party in heaven attended by creeps you won't want to miss!