Saturday, December 29, 2012

Where I was

By far the literary sensation of this year was David Markson, whose books Vanishing Point and Reader’s Block I adore. I ordered Reader’s Block first and it was sent to my mother’s house, so she read it first and also became an enormous fan. She said he appealed to her because she “spends a lot of time alone.” There is a small leap in the logic of that, but I get it.

In fiction, I loved Wolf Hall, and much enjoyed Plainsong and The Stone Diaries. Little Dorrit was a high point for Charles Dickens, but not, for me, THE high point. And while parts of it were a squishy, salt-water slog, I was glad to read Moby Dick. Two other very good novels were Sacred Hunger and Visitation.

A great experience was reading the non-fiction account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Callum MacDonald, followed by the meta-fiction/non-fiction on the same topic in HHhH

In poetry, I was happy to find the poetry of Lesle Lewis on, whom I’d never read before. I finished her lie down too and started her Landscapes I & II. I write poems similar in form to these, so it was good to experience how she does it, although it wasn’t the most exciting poetry I’ve read this year. 

My expectant forays into horror didn’t pay off, with Eutopia asking too much of me with its unholy hillbillies and The Passage being such a commercial sell-out it made me hate myself for reading it. 

Other disappointments were The Cat’s Table, which I gave up on despite my love for Michael Ondaatje. I thought Room was schlock, but then again I should have known. I also didn’t like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Worst of the year was Caitlan Moran’s How to Be a Woman, which my daughter asked for and I thought I’d skim first. Oh well, Thérèse Raquin also an eye-roller.

1. Barefoot Gen (Jan)
2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Jan)
3. Moby Dick in Pictures by Matt Kish (Jan)
4. Thirteen Designer Vaginas by Juliet Cook (Jan)
5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Jan)
6. Vivian Maier: Street Photogapher (Jan)
7. Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (Jan)
8. Broken Sonnets by Kathleen Kirk (Feb)
9. The Tin Drum by Günter Grass (Feb)
10. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Mar)
11. Hokku Notebook by Jack Spicer (Mar)
12. Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth (Apr)
13. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Apr)
14. Reader’s Block by David Markson (Apr)
15. Eutopia by David Nickle (Apr)
16. The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenmann (Apr)
17. Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress by Carlos Phillips Olmeda (Apr)
18. The Tanners by Robert Walser (Apr)
19. Frank O. Gehry: Outside In by Jan Greenberg (Apr)
20. Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola (Apr)
21. The Garden Going on Without Us by Lorna Crozier (May)
22. The Nervous Filaments by David Dodd Lee (May)
23. Room by Emma Donaghue (May)
24. Selected Poems by Paavo Haavikko (May)
25. Poema by Maurice Kilwein Guevara (May)
26. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (May)
27. Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck (May)
28. Purr by Mary Ann Samyn (June)
29. Short and Sweet: 101 Very Short Poems (June)
30. Autobiography of a So-and-So by Maurice Kilwein Guevara (Jul)
31. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (july 13)
32. Nocturnes by Kathleen Kirk (July)
33. Vanishing Point by David Markson (July 18)
34. Ice by Anna Kavan (Jul 26)
35. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen (Aug)
36. Foe by JM Coetzee (Aug 7)
37. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Aug 12)
38. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Aug 27)
39. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Sept 12)
40. Wonderful Wonderful Times by Elfriede Jelinek (Sept 19)
41. People are Tiny in Paintings of China by Cynthia Arrieu-King (Sept 22)
42. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (Oct 5)
43. Canada by Richard Ford (Oct 13)
44. Coeur de Lion by Ariana Reines (Oct)
45. lie down too by Lesle Lewis (Oct 22)
46. The Killing of SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich by Callum MacDonald (Oct 31) 
47. HHhH by Laurent Binet (Nov 10)
48. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins (Nov 17)
49. Plainsong by Kent Haruf (Nov 22)
50. The Passage by Justin Cronin (Dec 10)
51. Injecting Dreams into Cows by Jessy Randall (Dec 12)
52. The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (Dec 13)
53. Braiding the Storm by Laura E. Davis (Dec 23)
54. Kepler by John Banville (Dec 23)
55. Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel (Dec 25)
56. Ark Baby by Liz Jensen (Dec 28)


ron hardy said...

I have been hovering over a download of Wittgenstein's Mistress by Markson for a while. About a woman who may or may not be the last person alive on earth. Press buy. smile

SarahJane said...

That's what I'm reading now!

Kathleen said...

Will seek out Markson and Lewis for sure, based on your recommendations. I also enjoyed Plainsong and Stone Diaries. I love your book lists.

kenc said...

I recommend you read the English translation of Tomas Espedal's AGAINST ART. Very poetic novel about a writer. I tried the recommendation thingamajig at GR, but I'm not sure it "took."

Great year of reading. But I wonder about Sonny's reading year...!

SarahJane said...

Ken, my son is nearly done with a big fat book I took from your GoodReads list, and he has a stack of 5-6 still waiting. Of course he has to be policed into starting a book, but he's a pretty good kid (most of the time) so I expect it to happen.

Jasmine said...

Please tell us what you thought about Foe by Coetzee

SarahJane said...

I didn't especially like "Foe," to be honest, though I've like a couple of JM Coetzee's books, especially "Disgrace." The story was intriguing - about a woman who winds up on the island with Robinson Crusoe and Friday, so I will have go back and see what it was that bothered me. The concept was good, the writing seemed dull.

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