But the best (quasi-)new book I read this year was a reprint (outside the scope of the Newsday assignment). I’ve said more about it, and listed other 2005 standouts, including nonfiction, at Good Reports (scroll down).
My favorite novel of the year is the University of Chicago Press reprint of Peter DeVries’ The Blood of the Lamb, a tirade against faith inspired by the death of the author’s daughter. Not since Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair has a book rendered man’s rage against a hostile God so visceral. The Blood of the Lamb has its defects; it lacks the structural perfection of the Greene book, for one thing. But, unlike Greene’s unremittingly bitter and wistful Bendrix, DeVries’ Don Wanderhope moves deftly from manic hilarity to manic fury, and back again, as he tells his story. At the end, all humor drains away in a strange, explosive and utterly hopeless confrontation with the divine.