These are the books I’ve read this year.
I’m afraid this list pulls the curtain aside; there are a few books you can see I’ve read but haven’t written about on this blog (also there is no order to their sequence whatsoever). Oh well. The virtues of transparency and all that.
Best Novel: Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. A compelling novel of ideas, told in a masterful authorial voice with a wide range and a marvelous timbre. Honorable Mention: Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.
Best Short Story Collection: Thom Jones’s The Pugilist at Rest. Wonderful range of stories balanced with overarching themes and recurring characters, all with a driving intensity. Honorable Mention: Annie Proulx’s Close Range.
Best New/Contemporary: John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van. Engrossing and affecting. It’s a disturbing read that leaves you thinking about why it throws you off so much.
Best Work in Translation: Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being, but since I can’t pick it twice, his essay, Testaments Betrayed.
Best Play: Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night. Unrivaled as far as sheer emotional weight and a powerful depiction of dysfunctional family dynamics.
Best Nonfiction: John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist. Beautifully composed and insightful. Made me want to put in the hours at a keyboard.
Worst Book of the Year: Jon Stewart’s Naked Pictures of Famous People. What the fuck is this phoned-in discount Dave Barry shit, Jon? You’re better than this…