Favorite Reads of 2010: About a Mountain by John D'Agata

All my favorite reads of 2010 collected here.

My reading divides into 3 kinds of books: 1) the books I just don’t care for; 2) the books that are pleasing but ultimately forgettable; and 3) the books that force me to reckon with them. Of the three kinds, the third is indisputably the best. Even when the ultimate reckoning does not come out in their favor, these are books that have seduced me to live in their world, and I will not forget them easily.

I liked About a Mountain so much that I wrote a fairly long essay on D’Agata, and even though I ultimately had a mixed opinion of Mountain, I would recommend it above most books I read this year.

It’s a wonderful attempt to reinvent the book-length essay, a contemplation of the ugly black maw within which this country sat in the 2000s, and an impressive collection of high-wire set pieces. It has guaranteed that whatever John D’Agata next publishes I will read with great anticipation.

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It was a phenomenal book. Certain parts, like when he wrote about the half life of language, were beautiful. I don’t now if I believed him when he started connecting his big ideas to individual lives, but it was still an entertaining and provocative read.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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