Best of 2010 : BOOKS

I could only come up with 3 books for this list,because only these blew my mind wide open and
thought were stunningly well-written,a clear level above the rest.I was tempted to put Jonathan Franzen's Freedom as a No. 4 maybe,as many lists seem obliged to do,but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

A small note on FREEDOM widely acclaimed to be the best book of the year (suddenly Franzen was a trendy thing,to carry it around and make it obvious you were in on it was some kind of social must,few other books affect the masses so effortlessly) : The character Patty was irredeemably annoying to bear with,and Walter and Richard were related to us in this very gossipy,side-talk manner that made it hard to connect (plus all of them seemed deliberately indecisive,making them unsympathetic),as if the narrator was so concerned about detaching himself for the story,as an effect the reader felt similarly outside.While I was bored by the book as a whole,certain chapters were hard-hitting,but Freedom failed as a follow-up to 2001's The Corrections,a book I've read twice since and I am still amazed by its concentrated,unrelenting energy.Anyway,back to my best reads of the year.

3. DBC Pierre Lights Out in Wonderland

This was an odd experience,the entire book assumes this fantastical reality that doesn't actually cross into actual fantasy,where a lot of unlikely things happen and the stakes get cartoonishly higher and higher,but playing along was no trouble,to be absorbed into this colorful,ridiculously wonderful brainfuck.When the end result is something so unabashedly imaginative,it really doesn't matter which rules you do or do not break.

2. Nicole Krauss Great House

It goes about a few stories,all linked by a desk that changes hands.This was practically the only book that got me gushing after every paragraph,I'd only read it when I had complete silence and time to savor each line (if I were reading this book,it had to be the only thing I was doing at that moment),there's a depth to every relationship that is hard for any writer to capture,an obsessively well-thought out book.


1. Paul Auster Sunset Park

Ever since I read New York Trilogy,Paul Auster has been one of those authors whose books I buy the minute they're available,not bothering to read the back cover or see what its about,and this hasn't always paid off so well.Being an established name,its no surprise he's venturing into new territory and trying to prove himself versatile,his last effort Invincible was an incestuous soap opera/sexual thriller wannabe that was horrible to read,but he has since toned down and Sunset Park poses a very minimal plot,where a few wandering characters move into an abandoned house. I've read some reviews complaining about the lack of story,but this is an endearing quality to me,he skips on a few big things but penetrates the intimate thoughts of each character,studies their fixations on each other,its all simple but none generic,there are quips and parts of each story I can revisit and cherish over and over,and I pondered over the book weeks after I read it.


Anonymous said...

where/how do you choose your books?

Al said...

in the case of franzen & auster,they were authors whose work I regularly track,but besides this,recommendations from friends or blogs,reviewers whose taste I trust :)