November 27, 2008

100 Notable Books


In case you don't haunt the NY Times Book Review website like I do, they announced the 100 notable books for the year, a precursor to their top ten (five fiction/poetry and five non-fiction) list at the end.

The is comprised of 50 fiction/poetry books and 50 non-fiction's the link for you to read it: 100 Notable Books 2008

Any titles on there that surprised you? Any you expected on there that didn't make it? Got any ideas on who makes up the 5 books at the end of the year from that list?

I'm willing to say the following, though I should say that I have not read any of these books (yet):

Charles Bock - Beautiful Children
Marilynne Robinson - Home
Roberto Bolano - 2666
Aleksander Hemon - The Lazurus Project
Elegy: Poems - Mary Jo Bang

This list might be a little biased with my literary dream girl Marilynne Robinson being on the list (though the Michiko Kakutani, queen critic (or is it Motoko Rich?) at the NY Times, did not care too much for Home) and I needed to include Mary Jo Bang because she's a St. Louisian. I guess we'll see who makes the cut in a little while.

I do want to single out one book on this list. The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson. First, the author of the book is named Bryan Johnson, which is interesting and reason enough to get it. Next, this book comes in a box, and is unbound. In the sheaves of papers, there is one group that has "Start" written on it, and another that has "End" written on it. You read the "Start" section, then read the other pages in any order you want to create your own reading experience and when you're through with the middle sections, read "End" and you're done. How strange and challenging is that? Not only the feat it would take for it to make sense while reading it, but think of the challenge of writing a book like that which needs to be cohesive. Damn, I say.

This book was written about 40 years ago, so this is a re-release of this strange, hard to find book. I've never read it, but I have to admit I'm very, very interested. I own a biography of this writer called Like a Fiery Elephant which is one of the hundreds of books I have on shelf, but have yet to read. Apparently B.S. had a sad life, killing himself because he never achieved the literary fame he wanted, but I imagine there is more to his story than that, so I look forward to reading the biography, and maybe even some of the actual experimental works of B.S.

viva el mustache

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