Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Books 2014: best fiction to read

Forget Amis, McEwan and the Booker winner — these are the best novels of 2014

Christmas Books 2014
Christmas Books 2014 Photo: Charlotte Runcie

Somewhere in the middle of Ali Smith’s delightfully fizzy novel How To Be Both (Hamish Hamilton, £16.99), the teenage protagonist interrupts her viewing of a film to “howl out loud like a wolf at its crapness”. I’ve identified strongly with this passage while compiling this list of 2014’s fiction, particularly when it came to some of the bigger names. I yelped at the Dickens-aping opening to Ian McEwan’s The Children Act (Cape, £16.99): “London. Trinity term one week old. Implacable June weather.” 
I yodelled at Richard Flanagan’s fervently written Booker winner The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto, £16), especially when a sex scene in the dunes was cut short by this Yeatsian apparition of a dog: “Above blood-jagged drool, its slobbery mouth clutched a twitching fairy penguin.” I moaned throughout David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (Sceptre, £20), in which Matrix-esque immortal warriors take over the bodies of a Seventies schoolgirl and a yah on a skiing holiday, crescendoing at lines like: “Incorporeally, I pour psychovoltage into a neurobolas and kinetic it through the hole.” 
By the time I got to Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest (Cape, £18.99), a Nazi bureaucratic satire apparently convinced that what the concentration camp novel needed was more camp (“I mean, a lorry full of starved corpses. All a bit gauche and provincial, don’t you think?”) I could only manage quiet despairing yowls. All these bestselling novels got five-star reviews elsewhere. Consider this a warning. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just read Closing the Book on Santa Claus by Ron Chandler. It is a fictionalized narrative of why a Merry Christmas law is needed for our local schools. The story is about a father who tries to save his daughter’s holiday celebration after it is cancelled at the local school. He organizes a rally at city hall, but unexpected calamity prevails. Mr. Chandler shows why character education is as important to children as the memorization of facts and figures. I would recommend this book to other readers, both adults and children. It also includes four additional stories that will brighten everyone’s holiday season. I have decided to endorse this emerging writer because he reflects the conservative values that we need in our society today.
Ted Hilliard