Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year in Reading 2010

Notable books, or a Best Of list, though not all of these were necessarily published this year, out of the 70-odd books newly read over the past twelve months:

Bookending the year in reading, Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, which revolved around Philip Petit's tightrope walk across the World Trade Centers and a group of finely drawn characters kicked off the year that ended with Kathe Koja's excellent Under the Poppy.

The next group consists of memoirs by rock stars: Ozzy Osbourne's I Am Ozzy, Stewart Copeland's Strange Things Happen: a Life with the Police, Polo and Pygmies, Ricky Martin's Me, and the best of the group, Patti Smith's Just Kids, about her early life in New York and her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. What comes through more than anything is the sweetness and innocence of this part of their lives, and possibly of life in general at the start of the 70's. This was the best non-fiction read of the year.

William Gibson's Zero History was the fiction read of the year. The conclusion of the Pattern Recognition or Blue Ant trilogy, ZH takes the techniques of science fiction and applies them to the immediate past in the context of a search for clothing and designers with very unusual properties. I want me some Gabriel Hounds.

Another great discovery was to flash back to the past with some Samuel R Delany: Dhalgren and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand are the kind of high grade science fiction that seemed to peak in the late 60's. Disorientation through language and imagery, fiercely drawn characters and invetive worlds to explore. That's the stuff.

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