Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Book Roundup

Started off the year doing something I don't know that I've done before, reading through an author's body of work, then reading their biography. Richard Brautigan isn't someone I've ever had a particular interest in, but William Hjortsberg's biography of him intrigued me, and I'm not inclined to read a literary biography without first being familiar with the author's work. Brautigan certainly didn't become one of my favorites, and the biography came from a questionable angle (given that Hjortsberg was a friend of Brautigan's, he inevitably shows up in the narrative and refers to himself in third person), but the whole thing overall was a fun ride. There's always a greater sense of completion when you read not just the author's work, but their life story and how their famous projects came together.

Elsewhere in my fiction pursuits, I attempted a lot of "series" type things, which seems like a bad idea, given my aversion to multiple books about the same characters/stories. I enjoy Game of Thrones on TV well enough, but the books are atrociously written, and if I have to see Martin's laughably ridiculous, "I've always considered women to be people," quote one more time, I might bash my head open on a sharp rock. I believe the line you're looking for, Mr. Martin, is, "I've always considered women to be cleanly-stenciled, irritating archetypes."

I attempted to finish out Margaret Atwood's post-apocalyptic trilogy with MaddAddam and, sadly, just couldn't do it. She remains a favorite writer of mine, but I'm just not as into her science fiction as I am her other writing. My big project was Proust's In Search of Lost Time. I'm one volume in and loving it, just having trouble creating an atmosphere of little distraction in which to read and absorb it.

On the poetry side of things, I dug through a few collected works, the heaviest being John Ashbery's, though it was immensely fulfilling, both from a reader's and writer's standpoint. There are endless things to learn about the craft of poetry from reading and rereading Ashbery, as well as Louise Gluck and Seamus Heaney. I also discovered some great poets I'd never read before, like Andrea Cohen, Jim Daniels, Joshua Corey, and Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, who wrote my favorite book of this year, Hello, The Roses. It isn't widely read, but I love that there continues to be an endless supply of great poetry in the world, and I look forward to discovering even more of it, next year.

Below is my "Read In 2013" list. It was a pretty sparse reading year, for me, compared, at least, to the previous year. Additionally, I'm not too happy about the lack of diversity in form, as I seem to have unintentionally stuck mostly to fiction and poetry. My 2014 goals include stirring more nonfiction into the pot, probably in the form of literary biographies. I've had Dostoyevsky's staring at me for a while, and I've recently acquired a few others that look promising, but, as my style is to read the author's work first, any of them would be a time-consuming project to take on. I fully intend to commit to finishing the Proust volumes (another time-eating monster - noticing a pattern, much?). I took a break from poetry towards the end of this year, and I need to get back into reading that regularly, especially as it tends to jump start my writing (and my writing progress/goals is a whole other entry I won't even go into). The only graphic novels I may make time for next year are The Walking Dead Compendiums (I've read the first one, but definitely need to reread it), and I really haven't been in the mood for plays or chapbooks, so we'll see if my interest in those picks up.

To a productive, stimulating, and literary 2014. B)


The Abortion - Richard BrautiganRevenge of the Lawn - Richard BrautiganThe Hawkline Monster - Richard BrautiganDreaming of Babylon - Richard BrautiganTenth of December - George SaundersChrome Yellow - Aldous HuxleyGood Bones and Simple Murders - Margaret AtwoodThe Night Trilogy - Elie WieselA Game of Thrones - George R.R. MartinA Clash of Kings - George R.R. MartinAda - Vladimir NabokovOryx and Crake - Margaret AtwoodSwann's Way - Marcel ProustThe Year of the Flood - Margaret AtwoodMaddAddam - Margaret Atwood (unfinished)Light Boxes - Shane Jones


Wait - C.K. WilliamsCollected Poems - Louise GluckCollected Poems 1956 - 1987 - John AshberyNotes From the Air: Selected Later Poems - John AsberyPlainsphere - John AshberyBegging For It - Alex Dimitrov (twice)Quick Question: New Poems - John AshberyA Crash of Rhinos - Paisley RekdalAutobiography of Red - Anne CarsonRed Doc > - Anne CarsonThe Apple Trees at Olema - Robert HassDifferent Hours - Stephen DunnLong Division - Andrea CohenKentucky Derby - Andrea CohenThe Hundred Grasses - Leila WilsonThe Year of the Rooster - Noah Eli GordonSlow Lightning - Eduardo C. CorralWhat Is Amazing - Heather ChristieIn A Beautiful Country - Kevin PruferLife on Mars - Tracy K. SmithFragile Acts - Allan PetersonShow and Tell - Jim DanielsHaving A Little Talk with Capital P Poetry - Jim DanielsSeverance Songs - Joshua CoreyOpened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 - Seamus HeaneyDistrict Circle - Seamus HeaneyHello, The Roses - Mei-Mei BerssenbruggeThe Unknown University - Roberto Bolano

Non Fiction

Jubilee Hitchhiker - William HjortsbergNotes of a Native Son - James BaldwinThe Language Instinct - Steven PinkerProust's Overcoat - Lorenza FoschiniThe Reason I JumpI Am Malala - MalalaTen Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Nick Hornby

Graphic Novels

Building Stories - Chris Ware


Then - David Greenspan (Turtleneck Press)Americans, Guests, or Us - Caren Beilin (New Michigan Press)The Flung You - Lucy Anderton (New Michigan Press)No - Ocean Vuong (Yes Yes Books)
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