Monday, December 22, 2008

Literature that Rocked My World in 2008
December 21, 2008 – 4:10 pm, by LiteraryMinded

Blood & Tinsel - Jim Sharman.
I said: ’The memoir is highly absorbing entertainment and has the potential to appeal to different ages and audiences, from those who will recognise suburban Australia, punk London, and hippie-era Tokyo, to those that only know Sharman through cult associations. Blood & Tinsel is an interesting and unique story of a personality with an original, genuine take on the world.’ See full review, and the interview with Jim Sharman.

Firmin - Sam Savage.
I said: ‘It makes it a deeply artistic, truthful and quite absurd book. I walk around with the feeling of it still, a little unshakable - it feels a lot like Midnight Cowboy … I think about Firmin still weeks afterwards and bring the book up in all sorts of conversations, and I know its effect, its character, its purpose, its lines, are turning it into a favourite.’ See full review.
The Boat - Nam Le. A moving, intelligent, original, absorbing short story collection. I was lucky enough to see Nam at both the Byron Bay, and Melbourne Writers’ Festivals. Read my ‘responsive’ interview with him here.

The Spare Room - Helen Garner. Which left me staring at the wall.

Wintering: a Novel of Sylvia Plath - Kate Moses.
An elegant, quiet book. Not reviewed on LM but it has stayed with me. I would recommend it for Plath fans, or fans of someone like Michael Cunningham.

Uncorrected Proof - Louisiana Alba. The most original book I read this year - utterly compelling postmodernism. I said: ‘Uncorrected Proof is a postmodern novel that entertainingly riffs on form, style, character, tense, person - but with an overall thriller/quest type plot appropriation, it folds you into its delicious bizarro metascapes and humorous oft-satirical, oft-homagical visions.’ Read the full review.

No Other Life But This - Nathan Curnow.
An unassuming little chapbook that gets deep under your skin. The kind of poems you can read over and over. I have an interview with Nathan alongside another amazing poet Sean M Whelan lined up for the new year.

The Boy Detective Fails - Joe Meno. fear. alone. love. See here.
The Blogging Revolution - Antony Loewenstein.
An eye-opener. A well-written, personalised nonfiction book that is essential to our era. Should be read by young and old. See my extensive interview with Antony.

The complete works of Kafka.
That’s right. All of it. The short fiction, the novels, the diaries, the notebooks, and a bunch of biographies and essays about him. I fell in love with this man. I will write about him, I promise, in the future. A taste, from my visit to the Kafka museum in Prague.

The Two Kinds of Decay - Sarah Manguso.
A striking biography of a woman’s years dealing with a rare illness. Compelling. Review possibly forthcoming…

Eat the Document - Dana Spiotta.
I said: ‘Eat the Document had me enthralled. It is engaging, dignified, brilliant. No moments feel contrived. There is no message forced upon the reader but a series of characters in a completely defined reality, echoing our own. It is edgy, involved and tightly written.’ Read full review, and interview with Dana Spiotta.
I really had a great reading year (and I just realised how many books I have read, besides working, writing, blogging, travelling and moving interstate!). Thanks to everyone who recommended and sent books to me. Of course, there were a lot of books that I didn’t love, and you’ll find a few peed-off reviews in the archives. There were also many good books, that nonetheless didn’t completely blow me away. The above are books I will always remember. The above are books I would recommend widely. The above books I learnt from, and am grateful for their existence. They made me feel both alive and understood, they taught me, they spoke to me. I love them.
I must note that I am currently reading The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, and I’m sure it would have made the list… it’s so defiant, intelligent, truthful and compelling. I must get back to it right now…

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