#1: My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. This hit me where I write and in what I think of family relations. To the first: the play of ideas mixed with the recitation of events is powerful. Too few writers think that ideas can be exciting, and they belabour plot and character instead. To the second: the re-appraisal of family relations means more to me now than it might have five years go, for example, and how Knausgaard approaches that topic, with reservations and with something bordering on the heedless is incredibly engaging. Intellectually appealing and emotionally rewarding.
#2: Infinity: the story of a moment, by Gabriel Josipovici. Yet another book by this masterful writer that makes you question the solidity of just about everything. Nothing is the same inside me by the time I get to the end of his fictions. I should be used to the way he handles dialogues and monologues, yet it always delights. He surprises by being an adventurer. Why he isn’t read more is baffling. His humanity and his graceful prose are there for everyone to enjoy.
#3: Reticence, by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and Autotportrait, by Edouard Levé. Is it cheating to combine two? Two compact French novels that offer new ways of telling stories, while containing unchecked paranoia and mortality, that also allow for amusement, disquiet, and investment.
#4: In Red, by Magdalena Tulli. Short, visionary and ominous, with no real interest in character but with a deep look into humanity.
#5: A Struggle for Life, by Llewellyn Powys. This collection of essays takes a reader back to the end of the 19th century and up to the Second World War. His control of language combines with a considered view, perhaps formed by his illness from TB, of what life offers everyone right now, from birds and lions to human interactions, if we just turn outwards. A good corrective for when I forget the value and purpose of the senses or the importance of contact with human and non-human animals.