Monday, 8 December 2008
MY BEST READS OF 2008
By way of a warning, this will be totally non-comprehensive and full of omissions because...well, just because. The books won't necessarily have been published this year either; just enjoyed by me.
Overhead in a Balloon - Mavis Gallant: Stunning, intricate and dark Paris-set stories from a writer I only started reading this year. Why oh why? I have so much to catch up on.
Encounters - Michael Trussler: Surreal yet disturbingly real urban stories, set in Canada. Great stuff.
Words From a Glass Bubble - Vanessa Gebbie: Very varied, very poignant, funny and dark short stories.
Taking Pictures - Anne Enright: Stories of small incident and rage in women's lives. Masterful.
Intercourse - Robert Olen Butler: These are so varied and cleverly executed, it's hard to give an easy overview. The clue is in the title and they are brilliantly conceived shorts like you've never read before.
The White Road - Tania Hershman - This is not a book of flashes, it's a mix of short and longer fiction, but its science-inspired premise is a good one and the writing is lyrical and beautiful at times.
Perplexed Skin - Patrick Cotter: Witty, sexy and moving poems from an exceedingly clever Corkonian.
The Wellspring - Sharon Olds: Concise, sensuous poems of creation, procreation, family and love. A revelation.
Lost in the Gaeltacht - Caroline Walsh: Impressive début from a young Irish writer comfortable with her language and identity.
The Flâneur - Edmund White: A varied, readable and entertaining sprint around Paris with a gay flâneur.
Mrs Woolf and the Servants - Allison Light: Brilliantly researched and engagingly written bio of Virginia Woolf's dependence on, and disdain for, her servants. It might turn you off her...
The Yellow House - Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles - Martin Gayford: It was an experiment in artistic living, it failed; Vincent cut a bit off his ear in the end. A lively and captivating creatively non-fictional look at those nine weeks.
The Paris Review Interviews - Vol. 2 - If you are a writer, or want to be one, read these. Lots of honesty and insight between these pages.
Most of the novels I read this year (I read very few, as it happens) were disappointing. I read two old Michéle Roberts ones which I enjoyed, but apart from them, nothing else stands out.