Monday, December 13, 2010

Flotsam & Jetsam

I am getting a little tired of all the "10 best" and "100 best" end of the year lists, and I am NOT going to do one myself. I think they are spurious, and I have learnt enough now to know how bogus and commercially-controlled some of them are. Or how fear and love and mutual obligation control the choices. But I thought I would photograph a pile or two of the books that are being processed here at the tabby ranch right now. Many of the books I have read have been filed away already or are at the office if they were work-related.

I liked lots of books and I hated a few (there were some distasteful revenge fantasies I had to read for work, and they've been filed under "d" for "demented old has-beens"), but because it is Xmas I will point out some highlights.

I am totally happy to recommend any of the following:

FREEDOM ~ Jonathan Franzen (HarperCollins)
Anyone dissing this, even with the typos, needs their head read.

QUININE ~ Kelly Ana Morey (Huia NZ) Brilliant, energetic, and irreverent. A romp, a bricolage. Spoof of a historical novel, set in Europe and New Guinea. Flawed and funny, the best novel by a New Zealander so far this year. (I haven't read Lloyd Jones yet, but I'm not hopeful: it sounds like a calculated piece of journalism, but, he's so good, he probably pulls it off anyway.)

STEAL AWAY BOY ~ poems by David Mitchell (Auckland University Press) Divine.

BLOOD MEN ~ Paul Cleave (Random House NZ) crime. Chilling and well written. And puts most of the bland literary fiction coming out of the universities, in the shade.

NO FRETFUL SLEEPER ~ Paul Millar (AUP) Literary biography, a fascinating portrait of someone who chose the easier path.

THE COLLECTOR'S DREAM ~ Pierre Furlan (translated from the French by Jean Anderson) The best novel about New Zealand has been written by a non-Kiwi. The story is based on a real family but the author has the integrity, in fictionalising them, to give them fictional names. Bravo.


Vanda Symon said...

I love the lists! Most of them contain books I wont ever read, and have no intention of reading, but every now and again one reminds me of a book I'd been intrigued by earlier in the year, then completely forgotten about! So they do have their uses.

I've moved Bloodmen up my reading pile list to enjoy over the school holidays.

sas said...

thank you for this list. i loved freedom - will investigate the others :)