Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Year-end Round-up

I've been neglecting things here for quite a while. Here's the stuff I've been reading since the last time I mentioned the stuff I've been reading:

Lush Life by Richard Price--I think Price is the current master of crime fiction in the U.S. Lush Life touches on all facets of life on the Lower East Side with the best dialogue being written today.

Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music by Greg Kot--Great explanation of the current state of the music business and how we got here. It's mostly stuff you already knew about if you follow the scene closely, but Kot puts it all together and adds some good inside info.

Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball--An epistolary novel that follows a man's descent into depression and suicide by recounting letters he writes to everyone he's ever known in his last days. Some are very effective, ranging between humor and pathos, while some fall flat and feel a bit too forced. One of those books that I thought I would like more than I did.

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby--I generally like Hornby's books, but this one felt like he should have gone right to the screenplay and skipped the novel altogether. And it's a movie I don't think I'd pay to see.

Invisible by Paul Auster--I liked Auster's early novels, then I grew tired of his lazy style. I read somewhere that Invisible was a return to form. It wasn't.

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker--Probably my favorite novel that I've read this year. Baker's story of a poet trying to write the introduction to a volume of rhyming poetry and relating a history of poetry in the process. It's got all the writing you love if you love Nicholson Baker and if you don't, you should.

Jernigan by David Gates--The relentless downward spiral of an alcoholic widower trying to raise his teenage son and failing miserably at everything. Funny, bitter, brutal and not a word out of place. I'm now a David Gates fan.

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan--The narrator recounts the story of his in-laws marriage against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The well-crafted writing we expect from McEwan with the big payoff at the end. The only problem for me was knowing the payoff was going to be there and feeling like the rest of the novel was like wading through the shallows to get to the big waves.