Sunday, February 10, 2013

Year in reading (2012)

Jeff in Venice by Geoff Dyer (25)
His essays are better. Mentions James Turrell. Sent to Annabel with the caveat there are descriptive scenes in India of having diarrhea.

The Loser by Thomas Bernhard (23)
Pale remake of Correction — suicidal postmortem focus is music instead of architecture. Still worthy. 

Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer (18)
Dyer finding his cantankerous voice brilliantly. Contrary, self-deprecating, good thinking on the page. 

The Bushwhacked Piano by Thomas McGuane (3)
Reread every year in an attempt to write better. I quote myself: “My inability to emulate his style is hardly testament to its genius. I suppose the thing that I take away from it more than any other is Mcguane's steadfast refusal to communicate anything in a conventional fashion. It reads fresh, alien even, every time.”

Yoga for people who can't be bothered to do it by Geoff Dyer (7)
Dyer's masterpiece. 

Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence (17)
Unnervingly erotic. Took one of my NAU's professor's breath away back in her prime.

Gringos by Charles Portis (12)
His diction is sui generis. Prose almost haunting in its comedic tone and execution. 

The Last Gentleman by Walker Percy (28)
The first 50 pages I howled, the rest of it should be literally flushed. Shocking piece of excrement.

Preparations for the Ascent by Gilbert Rogin (8)
Gem of rarefied high comedy. Does not suffer from gag fatigue.

Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West (9)
Can hardly remember reading this as I was learning a hotel job at the time, as a night custodian — what West was doing when he wrote it. Did Nathanael West preheat waffle makers for strangers? Seems unlikely.

Things I Didn't Know by Robert Hughes (27)
Ambivalent about this one. Hughes did way better things. Fatal Shore is awesome and I love what he says about art.

The Emigrants by WG Sebald (19)
A very strange, haunting treatise on what we remember.

Killing Time by Thomas Berger (13)
Phenomenal treatment of the psychopath in this fiction desecrates Capote's big effort. A depth of understanding perhaps only rivaled by Dosteoyefski.

Let me Count the Ways by Peter DeVries (22)
High comedy. Succeeds where Last Gentleman fails.

On the Road by Jack Kerouauc (15)
Moriarity's self-absorbed hipster stinks up the page and Sal is covered in the residual stench of it all, but it's a great american novel even without the brotherhood (which is ultimately moving, despite a lot of the doucheyness).

Thanatos syndrome by Walker Percy (11)
Sequel to one of the great novels of the 20th century: Love in the Ruins. Brilliant, mate.

Correction by Thomas Bernhard (1)
Punk rocker Richard Katz in Freedom exclusively reads Bernard. Doris, my old housemate, grew up in his neighborhood. Her Dad tells me that the notoriously reclusive Bernhard used to get lunch at the cafeteria of the factory that he worked.

The Collected Stories of Leonard Michaels (2)
This man has strange powers. Find him, use those powers for your idle literary intercourse.

63: Dream Palace by James Purdy (4)
Darker than Nathanael West, less comic, but overall, just as gigantic.

Julip by Jim Harrison (5)
Three novellas, three of his best.

Sylvia by Leonard Michaels (14)
A loan from H with the caveat: proceed with caution, this reminds me of one of your old relationships.

Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway (24)
Indispensable source on craft.

Masters of Atlantis by Charles Portis (6)
I turned to this first, post-breakup. Emotionally, the tone was spot-on. Dad loved it: “What a bunch of derelicts.” Funny.

Panama by Thomas McGuane (10)
A text, I realize, I borrow heavily from in my novella. So good. Rather weird.

The Houseguest by Thomas Berger (29)
Avoid this ugly novel. So misanthropic.

Memoirs by Tennessee Williams (20)
Full of gems like these: “The kitchen door banged open and past me sailed a meatloaf, missing my head by inches. Then came a bowl of succotash, once again missing its target, then the salad, even a silex of coffee. I was so drunk that these missiles did not alarm me. And when the kitchen door banged shut and Frankie charged off in the car, I picked the meat loaf up off the tiles and ate it with as much gusto as if it had been served me on a golden platter.”

Rediscovery of North America by Barry Lopez (16)
What Columbus did in the Americas is too incomprehensible even for terrible fictions.

The Great Leader by Jim Harrison (21)
Hell, it's Jim, read it.

Turn of the Screw by Henry James (26)

Mile Marker Zero by Jim Harrison (30)
An interesting history clouded by the author's titillations of sleaze and frankly sucky voice.

No comments: