Thursday, January 03, 2008
books: 2007
There are really only two areas of pop culture that I feel I can discuss with any amount of credibility (a statement which is still a bit of a stretch), and since I've already written ad nauseum about the music I liked in '07, I felt a little guilty not talking about the books I liked too, a guilt I'd like to resolve today. And although I guess talking '07 is sort of passe by now, I still want to.

So I will. Darn it.

And so here it is - my favorite literary moments of 2007. Should you be interested, I've linked to the more thorough reviews previously posted on each title (reviews that were written by me, so do be sure to temper those expectations).

Central question: What would happen to the world should humans suddenly disappear? The answer: boy, we sure have made a mess, but nature is nothing if not persistent.

With a voice that is uniquely her own, her stories are precious, awkward, silly, unsettling and strange. I pretty much loved each one, although "Shared Patio" and "Something That Needs Nothing" are my favorites.

Favorite Title that I Suppose is Technically Young-Adult Fiction, but When You Really Think About it So is The Catcher in the Rye, So Who Really Cares?: The Dead Fathers Club, by Matt Haig
For those of you paying attention I've already gushed on about this book to the point of absurdity, so it's probably best I not repeat what I've already said both here and here.

Favorite Title that Scared Me in Ways I'm Not Quite Used to Being Scared: A Good and Happy Child, by Justin Evans
Is the kid crazy? Is be possessed by a demon? Who knows, but the road I traveled while pondering the questions was smart, unsettling, and dark. These are all things that I find tremendously pleasing.

I never did get around to giving this beautiful little book a proper review and for that I am sorry because I truly loved it and should have pushed it on more people. The title comes from the last few lines of Dante's Inferno, and the story is melancholic, heart-rending and beautiful in the way that a tale about standing in hell and somehow finding the hope to look towards the heavens should be.

Favorite Title for Making Me Laugh: I Love You, Beth Cooper, by Larry Doyle
Denis Coverman - a true nerd's nerd - takes his first real risk when he throws it all on the line to professes his love for the most popular girl in school during his graduating valedictorian speech, and the aftermath is a hilarious train wreck that you never really want to look away from. I laughed from start to finish, although through gritted teeth.

There's a reason this book is on almost every "best of 2007" list I've stumbled across. It's fantastic, and you should read it.

Other Scattershot Book-Related Thoughts on '07:

The One Title I Wish I Would Have Read Before Compiling This List: Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson
It made the top ten list for Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Time Magazine and more, so even if it doesn't sound much like my thing I expect I'll be getting around to it sometime this month.

The Book Whose Glowing Praise I Didn't Quite Agree With: Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris
I appreciate the sort of Catch-22 meets The Office tale Ferris was trying to spin, but try as I might I couldn't get past the first person collective point of view. Lots of other people seemed to like it, though, so perhaps you shouldn't take my word for it.

The Book I Probably Should Have Tried Harder On, But Just Couldn't Find the Will to Do So: Tree of Smoke, by Denis Johnson
Perhaps it's every bit as brilliant as everyone said, but I couldn't get past page 70 so I wouldn't know. Not my thing.

Best Book Event of the Year Decade: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling
As if this is a point that bears repeating...

Best Film Adaptation of a Novel: No Country for Old Men
I'd be terribly shocked if this doesn't get a best picture nomination. It's a jagged little pill to swallow, but a damn fine movie based on a damn fine book.

The Book Whose Film Buzz I'm the Most Curious About: The Raw Shark Texts, by Steven Hall
Last I heard it's going to happen, but I can't for the life of me imagine how. Some stories are better left to the imagination, and I fear this might be one of them.

Saddest Literary Event: Kurt Vonnegut's passing.

Book-Related Thing that I Found Most Irksome: JK Rowling's announcement that Dumbledore is gay.
So's Walt Whitman, Ursula Le Guin, Achilles, Bert 'n' Ernie and my cousin Scott. So what?



Blogger Steve said...

Nice list, and nice job getting your read on this year. This writer's strike is going to make a better reader this year methinks (I'm eating up the Buffy book, clearing grammatical brush through Living Biblically, steeling myself for 20th C. Ghosts, and eagerly awaiting Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects to find its way up my icy steps from the Amazon.); not that I'm trying to compete with your wpm , but still.

May I add one more category?

Scariest Book Moment That Doesn't Take Place on a Good and Happy Swingset: Opening the sleeping bags in The Ruins. Runner up: Jude finding his Georgia watching the tape in HSB.

Blogger Mrs. White said...

Yes you may, and you'd be right. The Ruins would also be runner up for book whose film adaptation I'm more than a little wary of, btw, but I guess we've already had this conversation.

Speaking of categories I forgot, Cormac McCarthy's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey show deserves something. Most surreal moment of the year, perhaps?

Blogger JMW said...

Nice post. Just thought I'd second the Mengestu recommendation. In my old job as an editor I tried to acquire that one, but came up short. Loved it.

Blogger Mary said...

I'm fairly embarassed to say the only book I've read on your list was the Harry Potter book and I thought it was silly that JK Rowling came out saying Dumbledore was gay. Big deal.

And I was very upset when Vonnegut died. He's one of my favorite authors.

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