Books to Watch for in 2010

Tuesday’s post on books to expect in 2010 inspired some pushback in the comments, and, actually, there are a lot of great recs there. So let’s crowdsource this. What should we be reading next year?

Here are the ones named in the comments:

And I found:

And still more:

And the Big Names

And the Lit Crit


Recent Posts



Criticism Isn't Free


CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!





23 Comments

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

It should be noted that ‘The Return’ is Putas Asesinas and thus will only be partly new for readers of Last Evenings on Earth.

Scott–you actually didn’t get the full Vollmann title (I guess Amazon has a character limit). Here it is:
Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater, with Some Thoughts on Muses (Especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses, Porn Queens, Poets, Housewives, Makeup Artists, Geishas, Valkyries and Venus Figurines

Perhaps this would be a good time and place to ask this question: There are lots of works by Vollmann available and lots of them are very long. I am interested in getting into him, but have no idea where to begin. In fact, I have several of his books that I’ve picked up over the years, but have yet to read. Essentially, one day I realized I had lots of Vollman books. I’ve read parts of lots of them, and some of his short stories, parts of Atlas. I want to fall in love, though I haven’t yet (petty gripe: the funny fonts, but I’ll live). So, yes, my question is: where to begin. I’ve got Europe Central, Fathers and Crows, Argall, The Royal Family, the Abridged Rising Up, Rising Down, Atlas, Rainbow Stories and probably one more that I am forgetting. Do I begin with one of these, or is Imperial better, or perhaps this new book about Noh theater (it sounds interesting). I know I should just suck it up and dig in, but with such a project, and with such a collection, I really want to try an get started on the right foot.

You’re right. And thus I must ask, Why didn’t they stick with a literal translation of the title? It’s much better.

Hey DN — I’ve read pretty much everything Vollmann has written. While some of his work is more accessible than others, all of it is challenging and strenuous in some way. The best place to start: The Rainbow Stories. This collection showcases nearly all of Vollmann’s signature styles and themes, and contains plenty of gorgeous writing. The narratives are also well-developed and intense. After Rainbow, I’d say check out the shorter novels: Whores for Gloria and The Butterfly Stories. The Atlas next, and if you’re still intrigued, work up to one of the big ones: The Royal Family is especially great. I would save Imperial and the Seven Dreams novels until you’re well inured to Vollmann’s style. Have fun…he is, in my opinion, the most important American writer of the moment.

Thanks. I have read the Rainbow Stories, or most of them. Let me rephrase though (as I have no problem or fear of long, dense writing [in fact, that’s why I am interested in Vollman–it seems like it would be up my ally, but I don’t know where to get in]): Which is his greatest work. I want to read him at the top of his form and go from there. So what are your favorites?

DN:
I think this question will receive as many answers as there are Vollmann fans. For my own part, I think Europe Central exemplifies the best treatment of Vollmann’s core themes and concerns, but in a way that feels less indulgent than some of his other books (a concern with Vollmann).
Of the Seven Dreams (or, rather, the four extant), I believe Argall is the most challenging/rewarding and The Ice Shirt & the Rifles the gateway ones.

Thanks–this is a great help.

I’ve read pretty much all of Vollmann too and if you want his *greatest* book, there’s not only one. Like Scott said, as many answers as there are books. My favorite is probably The Royal Family, but I’m also very fond of Argall. For his nonfiction, I gave Imperial a pretty glowing review in the Quarterly Conversation a few months back.

Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before The Shooting…

Royal Family is probably my favorite fiction piece of his and it incorporates a lot of his research/writing on whores and underbelly previously written about in (the best parts of) Rainbow Stories (and various other early novels and stories I haven’t read). I feel like it best represents his fiction.
Europe Central was spotty to me and ended up droning.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. What I am hearing is they are all really good, with some difference of opinion based on personal taste. The problem for me is that they all seem interesting to me, but that is generally the problem that I have in general with deciding what to read next. I want to read everything at once–and I find that that isn’t possible.
Also, thanks to Ellisonfan for reminding me about “Three Days…” I love Invisible Man, but never read Juneteenth because I was suspicious of it. I am really looking forward to this book–I don’t think Ellison gets near as much attention as he should.

Invisible Man is one of the greatest novels this nation has produced, but how is Three Days more complete than Juneteenth?

I contacted Open Letter about the release date for Zone and they said it will be Sept. ’10.

I am certainly not an expert, but it is my understanding that at his death, the manuscript that Ellison left behind was around 2000 pages. Juneteenth was the best excerpt his literary executor could put together (after several years of work), but have continued to work on organizing what was left since. The new edition/book is 1100 pages.

Atxaga y su provincialismo pueden resultar interesantes para fans tardíos de cierto realismo mágico….No para mí, desde luego. El Museo de la Novela Eterna es la gran novela de Macedonio Fernándz, más diré, es la novela macedoniana. Dicen que su mejor obra fue oral, no obstante, pero ese trabajo es inmenso, muy admirado por Gómez de la Serna con quien Fernández mantuvo una admirada correspondencia.

Sonallah Ibrahim’s Stealth (Al-Talossos), out from Aflame Books in Feb. 2010. Not to be missed.

Ah, queridos, he leído Un encuentro y es genial. Es un libro de ensayos pequeñito, pero Kundera lo dice al principio, de pequeños placeres. Revisita a Goytisolo, Rabelais, Beethoven. Un pequeño gran libro de un gran escritor y pensador.
Oh, dear readers, I’ve read Encounter and it’s great. It’s a little book of essays, but, Kundera remarks at the beginning, of little pleasures. It revisits Goytisolo, Rabelais, Beethoven. A little great book from a great writer and thinker.

Is there a concrete release date for David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King yet?

I’m curious about the english edition of The Return: what’s the source? Putas asesinas, Llamadas telefónicas, etc. I think translating short stories may be a good way for getting into Bolaño’s work. I also recommend to all readers go through the spanish version. I read some parts of Wimmer’s Savage Detectives, and even the work is solid, it’s ‘far’ from the original in a sense that you feel that the writer has created lots of different voices and it’s impressive. This is hard to find in the translation. Maybe Fresán is a better option because he writes influenced by north-american writers and has just one and recognizable voice.

If you want something that is not like anything out there–the same sense of moral confrontation not seen in American fiction since Moby Dick, try Lightbearer (a recreation of the Lucifer myth that takes the Biblical story and Milton to task) by yours truly. A book too controversial for a big publisher to take a chance on, but grabbed by Bold Strokes Books and just published, December 2009.

I assume that ‘The Return’ consists of stories in ‘Llamadas telefónicas’ and ‘Putas asesinas’ that were not collected in ‘Last Evenings on Earth’.

I suppose you can add Franzen to the list. Anyone know if there is any truth to the rumors about new Cormac McCarthy and Norman Rush?

Shop though these links = Support this site

Recent Posts

Copyright © 2015. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.