Some books and essays I’ve enjoyed this year

By request, and in the hopes of doing some small part to ease the struggles of great bookstores like Powell’s, here is an incomplete list of books and essays I enjoyed this year:

  • Fiction: Richard Price’s Lush Life, Aleksandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project, Marilynne Robinson’s Home, Claire Keegan’s Walk the Blue Fields, Julia Leigh’s Disquiet, Amara Lakhous’ Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, Katherine Anne Porter’s Collected Stories and Other Writings, Francie Lin’s The Foreigner, Keith Lee Morris’ The Dart League King, Hannah Tinti’s The Good Thief, Kathleen Kent’s The Heretic’s Daughter, Irina Reyn’s What Happened to Anna K., Randa Jarrar’s A Map of Home, my friend Mark Sarvas’ Harry, Revised, Rudolph Wurlitzer’s The Drop Edge of Yonder, and ZZ Packer’s (ed.) New Stories from the South 2008. Out-of-print (but discovered this year due to the author’s death): Theodora Keogh’s My Name is Rose.

  • Nonfiction: Harold Schechter’s (ed.) True Crime: An American Anthology, Brenda Wineapple’s White Heat, Richard Greene’s Graham Greene: A Life in Letters, Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine (just started reading), and Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns’ John Milton: Life, Work, and Thought (eternal disclosure).

  • Essays & opinions: David Grann’s “Letter from Poland” (The New Yorker ); Richard Schweid’s “Nashville’s Other Skyline” (Oxford American); Sean Rowe’s “Insider’s Guide to Jailhouse Cuisine” (Oxford American); my friend Emma Garman’s “Brother’s Keeper” (Nextbook); Colson Whitehead’s “Visible Man” (New York Times); my brother-in-law Joseph Clarke’s “Spectres of a Young Earth” (Triple Canopy); Harry Crews’ autobiographical riffs (Georgia Review); and Rebecca Solnit’s “The Archipelago of Ignorance.”

    Some of the above links are to my reviews, excerpts, or thoughts; some are to other venues, because I never got around to writing down my reaction.

    For my brevity, I blame the short days and crazy-person winter doldrums, but it’s also possible that Twitter is rotting my brain. The list may grow as other books occur to me.

    Over Christmas I’m going to embark on 2666. And for whatever reason, I still haven’t read Netherland, although I’ve looked at the first page about forty times and will eventually push past it.


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