12.26.31ii

31 BOOKS I READ THIS YEAR, IN ORDER OF HOW INTERESTED I WAS IN SLEEPING WITH THEM BENEATH MY PILLOW (STRONGEST CANDIDATES FIRST), AND HAIKU DISCUSSION

01 magic for beginners (kelly link). i'd concuss myself / for the chance to discover / kelly link again.
02 atonement (ian mcewan). adolescence in / a rotten nutshell, rendered / with ageless sympathy.
03 sweet tooth (ian mcewan). spies on fiction, and / fiction on spies; atonement, / but so much more fun.
04 stranger things happen (kelly link). the hat story is / amazing, but i can't talk / about it. (terror.)
05 great plains (ian frazier). apprenticeships for / nonfiction aren't a thing, but / i'd be frazier's serf.
06 joseph anton (salman rushdie). a singular tale / of bravery for art's sake. / fuck yeah, publishing.
07 antarctica (gabrielle walker). with pym, this nonfic's / an overturned cooler of / polar-pure goodness.
08 pym (mat johnson). sometimes i wake up / and pad out to the shelf to / reread the best jokes.
09 boy, snow, bird (helen oyeyemi). snow white recast as / mothers, daughters, and sisters. / modern, clever magic.
10 every love story is a ghost story: a life of david foster wallace (d.t. max). a thoughtful bio; / predictably, made me miss / wallace even more.
11 beautiful ruins (jess walter). starlets, italians, / and the people who love them. / patchy but winning.
12 the dog stars (peter heller). apocalypse sans / j-law, plus a little plane / and a man-eater.
13 an equal music (vikram seth). better than dancing / about architecture. a / bit twee, but good twee.
14 the diviners (libba bray). more is more: psychic / flapper teens with ESP! / just let it happen.
15 amsterdam (ian mcewan). booker prize winner? / seriously? mcewan, / i expected more.
16 vengeance (benjamin black). john banville's crime books / lack some of their pulp lately; / i'll still drink to them.
17 my life (isadora duncan). craziest tunic- / wearer since cassandra; i / admire and fear her.
18 see a little light (bob mould). karmic opposite of / dean "scrooge" wareham's black postcards. / nice guy finished first.
19 the twelve (justin cronin). book 2 of HIGHBROW BLOOD: / THE DICKENSING. honestly, / vampire methadone.
20 the starboard sea (amber dermont). probably i should / stop reading novels about / prep schools. most are MEH.
21 world war z (max brooks). zombie invasion / seen through a mosquito's eye: / i was entertained.
22 lost at sea (jon ronson). great subject choices, / less-than-diligent research. / funny, frustrating.
23 babayaga (toby barlow). are spies a match for / wicked old-country song-spells? / witch, please. (also fleas.)
24 how did you get this number (sloane crosley). i like crosley, but / this collection needs edits / and fewer bear deaths.
25 why we broke up (daniel handler and maira kalman). a sweet theme grows / cloying with repetition. / these teens don't charm me.
26 changing places (david lodge). dear me at nineteen: / we still think david lodge sucks. / regards, ancient me.
27 outrage (arnaldur indridason). clunky crime patter, / but good info on using / tandoori spices.
28 the psychopath test (jon ronson). i have a vein near / my eye that throbs when facts die. / it's python-sized now.
29 rivington was ours (brendan jay sullivan). the lower east side / had to deal with both this guy / and lady gaga.
30 melissa explains it all (melissa joan hart). she once threw water / in oscar de la hoya's / face in mexico.
31 the mad bomber of new york: the extraordinary true story of the manhunt that paralyzed a city (michael m. greenburg). assumptions sans facts, / a byzantine timeline, and / thesaurus abuse.


imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 what was the best book you read this year?
02 how do you feel about jason segel playing david foster wallace in the upcoming film adaptation of david lipsky's although of course you end up becoming yourself?
03 who would you cast as david foster wallace?
04 if you were a character in a supernatural young-adult novel set in the roaring twenties, what would your special power be?
05 is it even possible for john banville (benjamin black)'s philip marlowe novel to be any good?
06 do prep-school novels just suck, or should i hold out for more never-let-me-go-ish exceptions that prove the rule?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

jacob said:

01 the patrick melrose novels by edward st. aubyn. stunning in its depiction of parental cruelty. (honorable mention to my re-read of john williams' 'stoner,' which was a hit at the prairie lights book club. i think my work in iowa city is done now.)

02 i have fond feelings towards segal, so i don't mind, though the real issue would seem to be whether the book is filmable.

03 going by book jacket photos, i guess axl rose?

05 banville is too talented for it to be terrible, though i'm not sure it will rise to the level of 'good.'

06 well, there's always 'young torless' for early 20th century german-style military boarding school plots. less sorcery though.

lauren said...

the book seems pretty filmable to me, if they stick to the lipsky-tags-along-with-DFW-on-book-tour-stops-then-sees-his-house plot arc. i had a searingly apt pop-movie analogy for this right before i fell asleep last night; predictably, it's completely gone. jesse eisenberg as lipsky seems weirder to me, though i have never seen lipsky on "charlie rose," so maybe i don't know what i'm talking about.

re: 05, reviving the marlowe character and reviving chandler doing marlowe are two exceedingly different things, i guess; the former sounds a lot less dangerous to me than the latter, though if banville can pull some new chandler-worthy metaphors out of his hat i will be his biggest fan hencefoth.

emc said...

Right? Kelly motherf$@!ing Link. I read her story "Summer People" in Tin House a year or more ago and have been drooling for more ever since.
(must clear current cache)

01 may we be forgiven by am homes AND the glass castle (finally) which i read in a three-day binge and almost called in sick for. but the best best best oh-my-god best THING i read all year was the story "annie radcliffe, you are loved" by barrett swanson, in our current issue of american short fiction.

02 mmmmmmm, yeah okay. i rarely get possessive about my casting ideas; i love the opportunity to be surprised.

03 eh...john hawkes, 8 years ago

04 i would connect telephone calls so fast it would make your head spin

05 erm, anything is possible?

06 yep, they suck; i'm only so interested in what privileged, bored teens have to teach me about myself and the universe.

emc said...

it seems i put all my vocal tics into that comment.

lauren said...

comments are no good without vocal tics, man.

speaking of JH, you've seen martha marcy may marlene, yeah? after that plus winter's bone, i'm pretty sure i would never play cards with him.

uncle paul said...

Not only is Young Törless a great novel on the merits, it's one of my favorite books about math.

If they want to do a Wallace biopic, who am I to stop them, but I'd rather see someone attempt the fiction. Even an honorable failure.

lauren said...

i'm not sure how i'd feel about a film treatment of something like infinite jest, paul - i'm still recovering from the horrors of the golden compass and cloud atlas - but i'd like to see several directors get together and do, say, some of the stories from girl with curious hair.

apparently i'm reading young törless next year!

Anonymous said...

MDF dropped...

01 The House of Mirth dug me up and drug me up and stood me up and fucked me up. 02 A superficial choice. Deep down they have seriously divergent creative energies. 03 I thought of Seann William Scott, or a young Adventures-In-Babysitting-looking Vincent D’Onofrio. 04 To instantly pooh-pooh Ulysses’s artistic accomplishments– no, wait wait… to quaff Tuxedo #2s! 06 Forbear.

lauren said...

those sound pretty tasty (why am i not in the wormwood society).

lauren said...

update: we had drinks at attaboy on new year's eve and my rambling description of the death-in-the-afternoon sort of stuff i like (it's one of those bars without a menu, where the bartender sort of reads your palm and comes back with an alcoholic version of whatever he saw there) yielded...a tuxedo #2. way more accurate than that new york times dialect thinger that says i'm from sacramento.