Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Books I Read In 2015
The idea of writing about all the books I read this year is an exhausting proposition. This is not necessarily because I just read SO MUCH, but because of much of what I read I found exhausting. Some things took a long time to read, others were started and left unfinished, but whether I will pick them up again or leave them to collect dust is still unclear. Still, I read enough things I either liked or thought considerably about that I could write a substantial list, even if I avoid mentioning the things I don't feel like talking about. If you click this link you can see what I reviewed for Bookslut, all at once. Of those books, the Renata Adler and Silvina Ocampo collections are the best, and are basically essential.
That said, for the sake of my energy I will not order things chronologically. I will just start talking.
Anna Kavan, Ice. I read this right at the end of the year, and it led directly to feeling that I should spend 2016 reading more 20th century female modernists, namely Virginia Woolf and Ann Quin. (Also, Sylvia Plath, although I'm not sure if she counts.) Kavan's biography is pretty fascinating if you have any attraction to tragic figures: Born in 1901, she received an injury in the 1920's that led to her being prescribed heroin, leading to an addiction that lasted until she died in 1969. After her second divorce she had a nervous breakdown, spent time in an asylum, and legally changed her name to Anna Kavan, which was previously the character in a book she'd published under the name Helen Ferguson. Ice has a male narrator, whose conflict with the book's antagonist is over a woman - a woman viewed explicitly as a victim, and the protagonist basically views himself as being the one entitled to victimize her. Few depictions of men feel as harsh, or as basically accurate. Meanwhile, in the background is ice, destroying the world and reducing nations to ruins, which leads to the book being talked about in science fiction circles, although it's clearly analogous to the destructive forces of interpersonal relationships in the novel. The narration does weird things where, despite largely being in first-person, it's also able to take off from that limit and describe things the narrator doesn't bear witness to, sort of pointing at the character's worldview as so omnipresent that it's able to allow for narrative omnipresence by proxy.
Mark De Silva, Square Wave. I got a review copy of this book and then didn't want to review it because I basically disliked it. I was intrigued by the way the author talked about literature in an interview that ran on the publisher's website. Just tonight I read an essay he wrote where I again agreed with basically everything he said. My main problem with the book is what he describes as critic's problem with William Vollmann, who it's clear he likes: That the way in which he's overdescriptive can come off as fetishistic when talking about things that are morally abhorrent. There are parts where De Silva is not detailing violence, where he's talking about music in a way that seems like he's largely showing off what he knows in a way that becomes tedious. Meanwhile, his essay sort of bypasses entirely notions of poetry - both as something that provides visionary life-altering power and perspective and also as something that can enliven prose, that musicality can be compelling for its own sake. That sort of understanding of the sentence is absent in Vollmann and in Square Wave.
Cynan Jones, Things I Found On The Beach. I was sent a review copy of this one too, although this was unsolicited, and that was initially exciting until a few pages in, where I realized I didn't really like the book that much. A press kit was sent, one of the initial blurbs was like "If Jones is like Cormac McCarthy, this book is his No Country For Old Men," but then if you read the article that's excerpted from, which was also included, it's in the context of talking about his other books, and it's a diss. Fairly straight-forward crime fiction, with a consciously "minimal" style. It is funny how when reading crime novels the thing you think about is what you would do in the character's position. Reading this book I distracted myself by wondering what I would do if I came across a large amount of cocaine. Even at the time I knew this question was not really worth pondering.
Amy Hempel, The Collected Stories. The stuff from her first two books is really incredible, before all the stories start containing dogs and seem largely about dogs. That stuff's good too, though. I read these pretty quickly and can imagine those later stories being a delight were I to have read them as they were written. I wanted to recommend these to people going through hard times. They don't offer assurance, they are just very sad. I would also recommend them just to people who want to write better.
Gary Lutz, Divorcer and Stories In The Worst Way. I loved these. I read them early in the year. There is a type of joke Lutz uses a lot that I was basically already using in the thing I'm writing now, where words are defined incorrectly, but on the basis of what appears to be at the root of them, that made me want to read more. The sentences here are so contrived and tortured that all of the narrators seem insane. I picture them all as fat and sweaty and with crumbs all around their mouth, stains on their clothing. The narratives then are like classic 1980s short story style, scenes of domestic alienation, but they feel more fraught, the characters more doomed. They are pretty funny.
Elizabeth Mikesch, Niceties. Calamari Press has this deal intermittently where you can buy several books at a time, only selecting a few specifically, the rest chosen for you by the publisher. This was one of the ones I got randomly. I still haven't read all of the stuff Calamari sent, but everything I've read so far has been pretty readable. The David Ohle books (Boons And The Camp, The Blast) were fine. Stanley Crawford's Travel Notes was one of the books I specifically requested, and while it eventually becomes basically too far out for me to even parse, before that it is like a string of paradoxes, impossibilities. It's pretty insane even before I lost a bead on what it was entirely. Considering that the sixties were an era where lots of people read weird stuff, this seems like a rare example of what only total freaks would read. Mikesch's book is a short story collection that is not too far off from Lutz's stuff but rather than taking place in sad apartments and offices it's air is perfumed like opulent boudoirs strewn with jewelry. That is sexist, but I mean it is more opaque. It wears wigs, makeup, sunglasses, and the texture it surrounds itself becomes so much a part of its look that it is synonymous with the body and its beauty. Bits of its music glop in my head still, but not any narrative. Incantatory. I don't know who would like it but I hope that people would, in general. I relate to it. I also read Miranda Mellis' The Revisionist and Beth Steidle's The Static Herd, they were fine, but very short. There was also a reprint of Scott Bradfield's book The History Of Luminous Motion, which was also fine, but not good enough to induce me to read his other books. I would read more books by Mikesch if they existed, which they will, in the future, maybe.
Steven Millhauser, Voices In The Night. I love what Steven Millhauser does in his short stories. Before this book came out I was drafting an essay in my head about how what Millhauser does, in all of his stories, basically redeems America. The quintessential Millhauser short story is about some form of Americana - the department store, or miniatures, or animation - and is about an artist or practitioner pushing that thing to the limits of its fantasy, until the story goes completely past realism. You see the yearning and the dream in Millhauser's stories, and through fiction, they achieve this form of tangibility, that makes the fact of American's continual wanting for MORE not seem like a curse or a disease but as something intrinsically spiritual. Here there is a take on the story of Gautama found in Hesse's Siddhartha but here way more rich in imagery of the delights of artificiality, and the title story is specifically about a longing for a spiritual calling felt even by those determinedly secular. It's a great book. The way that Millhauser's body of work seems to essentially mimic or parallel the characters in his stories seems to perpetually promise that what comes next is going to destroy all boundaries, but I'm not sure if the books really get better so much as that as his bibliography grows the scale seems increasingly monumental.
Shirley Jackson, Haunting Of Hill House. This is good and fun and a really easy read. Some people adore her and now I know why. It's still not exactly my thing but I get it. I read this at the same time as the Millhauser and basically alternated between the two of them, the Mark De Silva book remaining in my backpack as I was in New Jersey for my grandfather's funeral.
Patrick Dewitt, Undermajordomo Minor. I actually read this a few days ago, at the beginning of 2016. The acknowledgments page includes the work of lots of people whose work I like, including Millhauser and Italo Calvino, but also the cartoonists Sammy Harkham and CF. I think that if you were looking for a fun, well-written, genre-indebted in terms of atmosphere but still primarily focused on character book, which I think a lot of people are looking for, you can't really do any better than Patrick Dewitt.
Chelsey Minnis, Zirconia and Bad Bad. Two great books of determinedly bratty poetry. I relate to the obnoxiousness on display here so much. Zirconia is probably the more consistent book. Bad Bad starts off with a great series of introductions, that basically talk shit on the whole idea of writing poetry, and ends really strongly, but the bulk of the middle started to feel tedious in ways that seem both to do with the slight changes in formatting from her Zirconia baseline and littering the poems with words that I basically didn't know. Here is a prose-poem. The willingness to be abrasive, self-deprecating, talk shit, feels beyond refreshing in a world where people are desperate to be liked.
Mark Leidner, Beauty Was The Case That They Gave Me and The Angel In The Dream Of Our Hangover. I read the book of aphorisms while watching the Super Bowl. Great stuff. Rough paraphrase of one would be "art for art's sake is a tacit endorsement of war for war's." Shit man. The poems are pretty funny. I think a lot about this quote I've seen attributed to Leidner, that his work goes right to being stupid because that's what beauty reduces him to, and he is just skipping a step.
Rachel Glaser, Paulina And Fran. This book is not as mind-altering as her short story collection, Pee On Water. In fact, it's not mind-altering at all. It is eminently recognizable if you know women who went to art school and are approximately my age. Reading it I wanted to recommend it to people specifically because I am not sure I really value mimesis all that much but I know that there are certain people who would love to see their life experience reflected in prose. It's interesting to think about how this book is all about the art school experience but maybe her short stories are more like conceptual art.
Leon Neyfakh, The Next Next Level. This is a book about the rapper Juiceboxxx, a dude I know and share mutual friends with. There's an N+1 article that this book is essentially a longer version of, but that article is I think basically fine, while this book is terrible, and way too much about the author, and the author's weird sense of alienation from anything, and his inability to understand anything without a lot of projection. Specifically, Juiceboxxx knows a lot about noise music, and finds it inspiring, but the author finds it totally off-putting and then assumes it is designed to be alienating. As someone who listens to noise and goes to noise shows it seems pretty understandable as music if you are familiar with free jazz, or Sonic Youth, or The Velvet Underground, or any number of things I think music writers should be familiar with. I know it is not for everyone, but something can not be for you without the assumption that its only goal is to alienate. Even more of a problem is the sense that the author doesn't really understand or know anything about rap either, which makes the book's relationship to its subject, a rapper, all the more awkward. Neyfakh apparently wrote a really fawning article about hanging out with Drake, which makes a lot of sense, if you think about Drake as being basically wack and his fans as people who relate to him because of their own innate wackness.
I also read that collection of Jessica Hopper's rock criticism (and I wrote a review for Bookslut that sort of talks about Hopper's writings on its own terms) but later in the year I think I started to feel like Hopper's approach to music writing is really prevalent now in a way that I basically view as detrimental. I think it was reading her review of the Grimes album Art Angels, and how it basically parrots pre-release hype and the artist's own narrative for this tone of triumphalism that made me feel like "ugh, this is the worst." Also I think in general culture writing this year has been so much about representation, and who is making work, and giving things a gold star for being "feminist" or "intersectional." This is separate from the totally great function of feminist criticism, where looking at art through a feminist lens allows you to see larger systemic problems in a way that doesn't necessarily condemn the work itself. The strangest thing to me about championing things for their politics is how often those politics are largely a projection, based more on what the critic wants to see in the work. I realize that my objecting to this sort of comes off like what I'm mad at is work made by women, and the championing of the same, in a way that makes it seem like what I want to see is more talk about women being subjugated, (in a manner akin to what the Anna Kavan book is about) but like if people are going to talk about Beyonce or Taylor Swift as feminist icons and be super-psyched on every little win these rich people achieve, while across the board women's reproductive rights are rolled back, I don't want to read articles about how Broad City is a bellwether for progress.
While I'm offering retrospective disclaimers let me say that I read a Silvina Ocampo novella, The Topless Tower, after writing my feature on her for Bookslut and that book, which is not collected in Thus Were Their Faces, is not very good.
I read Ian Svenonius' Censorship Now! which was good. Good lord how much more do I admire Svenonius' contrarianism that frames basically everything as a byproduct of capitalism than the weird triumphalism of successful artists that constitutes music writing for major outlets. It seems basically besides the point to say "this is better than that" about things that are so different but it really is worth noting how rare Svenonius' approach is, how genuinely radical and reality-reshaping, than the affirmation of the myth of "music saved my life by presenting me with a vision of a future self to aspire to." But maybe when I say this I am just saying I relate to Svenonius and I'm full of shit.
William Gaddis, JR. This was the really long book I read this year and was maybe unsure if I'd finish. Once I did finish it, I kept on thinking about it, just in this way of wanting to compare things to the book's premise and tone. The notion of money as an abstraction for its own sake that perpetuates itself ignorant of all else, some kind of churning engine that will place advertisements anywhere and devalues everything because things without value can be bought up at low cost. The book is kind of repetitive and after a certain point you get it but it keeps on going in a way that then deepens the sense of the ubiquity of the book's subject.
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. Another one where the takeaway from the book is the idea at the central premise of it, how it resonates in real life. Before reading it I think I would've dismissed that concept as hyperbolic to the point of lacking realism but 2015 ended up being a really weird and reactionary year. I also started but didn't finish Atwood's The Robber Bride, which is one of her more realistic novels and was basically boring.
Dennis Cooper, Frisk and The Marbled Swarm. Frisk is really powerful and immediate, the way it's posed as faux-autobiography implicates the writer and by extension the reader. The premise is that the narrator, Dennis, saw some faked snuff photographs when he was way too young and since has been obsessed with combining sex with violent death. This obsession runs throughout Cooper's oeuvre, in often gross, transgressive ways. They are never really the point but seem to open the audience up to a willingness to be violated by other aspects of the book's strangeness. One fascinating thing in Frisk is the complete absence of women, so the deviation from society the book presents is not homosexuality as an alternative to heterosexuality but violence as an alternative to tenderness. Cooper's most recent "novel" is composed of animated gifs, which I looked at, maybe even "read," but don't really recall and am not including on this list. The Marbled Swarm deliberately avoids immediacy, in its prose, for a more confusing, ghostly and mazelike effect. Still I read it in basically a night, and lent it to friends who had to put it down for a while due to how gross it was.
William S. Burroughs, The Wild Boys and Cities Of The Red Night. The Wild Boys is really great. In some ways the takeaway is the conclusion, which is really straightforward, and the way in which Burroughs language is clipped allows the images to proceed with unimpeded motion, but flipping through it I ended up rereading one of the chapters that is basically gay erotica, and the way that one sort of returns to cut-ups to tell it sort of moves through the atoms of the room as they become charged with scent is sort of like if you were watching pornography and making animated gifs of your favorite moments at the same time. Cities Of The Red Night juggles a few narrative strands in alternating chapters in a way that I don't think works nearly as well as The Wild Boys' prismatic approach.
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory and Look At The Harlequins. Speak, Memory is Nabokov's memoir, and is pretty dull, dominated by the thread of his interest in butterflies. Look At The Harlequins is more interesting, at least in part because of the fact that the main character is clearly based on Nabokov, in that he's a writer whose works each have an analog with books written by the actual Nabokov, but he has no problem making this character erotically fixated on young girls, the way I'm certain some people viewed Nabokov after Lolita's success. This is pretty funny.
Jenny Offill, Dept. Of Speculation and Last Things. I read Dept. Of Speculation super-quickly, I think just sitting in a chair at the local Barnes And Noble, then checked out Last Things from the library for the sake of being a completist about an author with a very small body of work. The best part of Dept. Of Speculation is a small thing about getting a job as a fact-checker for a magazine that runs science facts. The best thing about Last Things was Sarah Nicole Prickett on Twitter making fun of the blurb on the new paperback edition's cover.
Natalie Lyalin, Blood Makes Me Faint But I Go For It. There's a great poem by Natalie, Wolverine, that you can read in this interview Rachel Glaser conducted with her. It is not contained in this book, which has a pretty good title. I was not particularly into this collection.
Edward Dorn, Gunslinger. After I finished my book, a western with some poetry in it, I read this and Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid. Chelsey Minnis talks about how Edward Dorn is her favorite poet in the prefaces to Bad Bad, but maybe she is thinking of the later work, Abhorrences. I've read one poem from that, it was great, and have e-mailed it to some people. The Ondaatje has a line about "blood a necklace" which is the name of a Goslings song.
Richard Brautigan, The Hawkline Monster. This was also described to me as a weird western. I liked it more than In Watermelon Sugar. It feels colder and weirder, like everyone in it is alienated from each other and themselves, death is palpable as this transmutational substance. Like it takes place in the parts of the west that feel like the moon. I think I found out at some point that Brautigan was friends, or collaborated on a journal with, Ron Loewinsohn, this book has a similar texture (smooth like glass) to Magnetic Field(s).
Thomas Bernhard, Correction. Written in this maniacal voice of total fury, which due to Bernhard's Germanic ancestry I read in my head as an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice. It feels possessed by violent obsession, like the goal is to break through a wall by smashing your head against it repeatedly. Like the literary equivalent of power electronics: This is an endorsement and a disclaimer that I don't know when I will next read one of his books.
Stanley Elkin, The Magic Kingdom. I really liked Elkin's Criers And Kibitzers short story collection. I associate this whole type of dark humor with my grandfather who died this year, an urban Jew who worked in a pharmacy in the sixties who I know read Joseph Heller. I keep on imagining this world of smart, well-read people, who raise children and read a certain kind of novel and they basically don't exist anymore, and it's possible the image in my head doesn't even really correspond to anything other than a myth. This book is good, well-rendered. It's about taking dying children to Disney World. It is dark but thankfully manages to avoid any dumb knee-jerk cynicism that the premise seems to threaten exists inside of it as a seed of its undoing. The ending is beautiful in a very particular way, powered by rage against death that is also an acceptance of it.
William Gay, Twilight. This book sort of splits the difference between two types of Southern novel - One, the kind about kids exemplified by The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, The Little Friend, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Two, Cormac McCarthy, and his whole approach to language. It's good, but basically a thriller, about a kid trying not to get killed.
Jane Bowles, Two Serious Ladies. Super-weird structure in this one. Seems to invite rereadings just to get to better understand the characters and their relationships to each other. This is one of my best friends' favorite books. I also read it to "prepare myself" for Paulina And Fran, which I was anticipating highly. It is pretty funny.
Sara Josephine Baker, Fighting For Life. An NYRB Classic, bought on sale. A memoir written by a public health advocate in early twentieth century New York. Every chapter has some sort of particularly interesting detail or anecdote. The stuff about arresting Typhoid Mary, a baker who didn't speak English very well and didn't seem to understand that she was sick and spreading disease, is pretty surprising to someone who mostly knows the name from the Daredevil villain named after her. The stuff about her belief about how women's suffrage would lead to an end to child labor is really good. Funny and smart in a way that feels "modern" enough in its consciousness that it serves as an effective window into this era that is so difficult to imagine that the consciousnesses of the people becomes unfathomable without such documents.
Alice Notley, In The Pines. Really good, basically incredible, particularly the title piece. Old lady witch shit with intent to break the world.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary. Kind of weird to read a book with this structure. Mothers News used these jokes as the basis of their "word jumble," and I always liked these bits when I could decode them, but without that effort, that pause before the punchline, I don't know if I liked it as much. That said, this book did teach me that "pandemonium" literally means "place of all the demons," which rules.
Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me. I don't really know why I read crime novels, I basically never find them satisfying, but people like them and they are quick to read. I found my copy of this on the side of the street, along with Chester Himes' Cotton Comes To Harlem, which I couldn't finish, although the movie is fine.
Don DeLillo, Ratner's Star. I'd heard this was Delillo's most sci-fi and Pynchonesque novel. It is basically about people becoming so obsessed with their areas of interest, their systems of decoding the world, that they unravel and no longer have any idea what they're doing. A comedy of philosophy, basically.
Herman Melville, The Confidence Man. Another comedy of philosophy. This one's about a con man on a boat, wearing a series of disguises, trying to get people to give him money. It is not always clear who the con man is. People frequently talk about Christian charity and the necessity of having confidence in your fellow man, but not all of them are necessarily the dude trying to get the money. This took me a really long time to finish.
Gertrude Stein, Everybody's Autobiography. This also took me a really long time to read, despite being basically the easiest thing to read in the world. It's Stein, newly successful, talking about all her famous friends, like Pablo Picasso. Pablo Picasso writes poetry and Stein, totally confident that she is the best writer in the world, has to explain to him it's like some Sunday painter showing him their stuff and it's basically an insult. Picasso only reads stuff his friends have written, why would he think he is good aside from this celebrity?
Amelia Gray, Gutshot. Short story collection in the Donald Barthelme vein where each story is like a comedy sketch, even when they are basically horror stories. These are okay.
Donald Antrim, The Emerald Light In The Air. A writer who can be compared to Barthelme for the weird inventiveness of his novels does a collection of short stories that ran in The New Yorker. Last year I read all of Antrim's novels, and they're all great, but much like the Amelia Gray collection I basically don't remember any of these. I actually do remember the Amelia Gray story that ran in The New Yorker, I remember being excited for her and then not thinking the story was very good.
Something I remember right now is I thought to include at the beginning of this post a disclaimer that maybe all of my negative opinions about things can be chalked up to professional jealousy, or an amateur's jealousy of professionals, whatever is the more appropriate and exact way to word it. I am sure whatever intern read the novels and short stories I sent out to be rejected this year don't remember my words either. I wouldn't want me saying anything dismissive of the writers in question to be something that sticks in their memory in any sense except for adding to their idea of time as being essentially a river of forgetfulness.
Paul Beatty, The Sellout. I thought this book was really good, a Dave Chappelle style satire about race that feels totally fearless.
Ishmael Reed, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down. I read this as a "western" around the same time I read the other stuff, the immediate predecessor to Mumbo Jumbo which I loved. I think I described Ishmael Reed's style as "half Kurt Vonnegut and half William S. Burroughs," really straight-forward sentences but deliberately disjointed and sort of anti-narrative. There's a lack of rules because the point he is trying to make is that there are no rules and all of the rules that exist were created to perpetuate a racist power structure.
Ben Okri, The Famished Road. Based on the same Yoruba folklore that powers Amos Tutuola's writing but more put together, so as to be way less deranged on a level of language but still basically running counter to any traditional ideas of narrative. It reads more like a fantasy novel than it does just coming off as some alien radio transmission. Some people wanted to call it "magic realism" but the capitulations to realism are practically nil. Derek who runs Calamari Press loves this book, and so does Porochista Khakpour. I think I expected it to walk different lines than it did in its navigation of its territory. It seems fucked up to put these three books by black authors together but I think I read this book around the same time Baltimore was going crazy. When people were talking about a Baltimore uprising I was thinking about the idea of a black-owned bookstore in that Penn-North area, which apparently already exists but I was imagining as like a positive outcome. Still it sort of seems like when people talk about reading "more diverse" literature they sort of diminish what literature is and imagine mostly personal essays or something. (Or that's how I interpret the conversation, and who seems to be the main beneficiary of such dialogues in terms of the bump in their profile.)
Javier Marias, Tomorrow In The Battle Think On Me. I read this right after Christmas. Javier Marias is good, for a second I thought I would read all of his books but they're all pretty similar, but I can still imagine reading one of his books every one or two years and they would probably always be pretty rewarding, especially if you spaced them out, or only read one after reading a couple of books that you couldn't get into or were somewhat unsatisfying. This one is kind of repetitive or obsessive in its underlining of its ideas.
Roberto Bolaño, The Secret Of Evil. This is basically odds and ends that were on the writer's hard drive at the time of his death. I am not obsessed with Bolaño the way others are but I got a free copy of this when someone was moving house and brought it with me to New Jersey to read and it was diverting enough.
Georges Bataille, The Story Of An Eye. I guess certain people read this when they are like twenty or something? Transgressive French pornography is maybe a common thing for college freshman who were more pretentious than people I knew at the time. I read this in a day, grabbed from the same pile as The Secret Of Evil.
OK I feel like I am officially bored with writing this list and trying to do write-ups. I also read Kelly Link's Get In Trouble and Valeria Luiselli's The Story Of My Teeth. The Kelly Link was fun but I think my expectations were too high or I was put off by the way it seemed like YA. Luiselli's book was smart enough but lacked drive. I read a bunch of NYRB Classics grabbed from a sale: Anne Carson's Euripides translations Grief Lessons has good essays by Carson but the plays themselves I basically couldn't follow, Maude Hutchins' Victorine I don't really remember, Théophile Gautier's My Fantoms is interesting (sort of) for a blurb from Lovecraft about how "it has a French sense of the strange" which ends up basically meaning that people have sex with ghosts that live in the paintings at a rich person's house, which makes perfect sense, The Letter Killers Club by the Russian guy with the long name who does the short story collections is not as good as the short story collections, despite attempts to embed short stories into the novel format. I read Julio Cortazar's Cronopios And Famas and it made basically no impression, I tried to read Hopscotch and, in the early chapters at least, it made a negative impression: The same sort of think I disliked about the beginning of The Savage Detectives, actually, where it seems like youth is being romanced and the woman is sort of this ornamental object and basically nothing is really being said except for this attempt. Apparently both of these works end up being a satire of that line of thinking eventually but I didn't really have the energy to stick around and find out. I read Jesse Ball's Samedi The Deafness and didn't feel like I had to read anything else by him, but honestly I think that was what I wanted, to just felt like I'd had a sampling of what he had to offer. I read Joyelle McSweeney's Dead Youth, which I didn't like as much as Percussion Grenade, and I basically feel like I should stop trying to find another book by her as good. I read Ken Sparling's Dad Said He Saw You At The Mall which is a nineties Lish-edited thing that is essentially domestic, but also sort of like the nineties equivalent of a Twitter feed's jottings of a young weird dad. It had a part I almost felt like highlighting or circling but I never do that and I think by that point I knew I was just going to give it to a used bookstore anyway. I read Robert Stone's Dog Soldiers and felt about it the same way as I do about crime novels, it is not as good as James Dickey's Deliverance, which feels like a fair comparison point. I read George Clinton's ghost-written autobiography and a book about Impulse Records and I don't really know why you'd read books about music. I read a few more books that I don't even really feel like mentioning.
In conclusion, a year is too long a length of time to remember all the books you read within it. I think the last time I attempted posts like this they covered nine months or so. Right now I am reading another book that I am not sure if I am reading closely enough to remember in a few month's time. These posts would not exist if I were not making a list in Google Drive to aid in my memory and my sense of accomplishment. But at the end of the year every book that is basically forgotten does not feel like an accomplishment any more than the meals I ate, which I am glad I do not keep a record of.