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.