NOTA BENE BOOKS BLOG

Musings on Place, Travel, Books, Literature, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Collecting, Media, Life and the Arts

The Best of the ‘Top Ten Books of 2008′ lists, and Author Interviews

a dead Lazarus Averbach (this and other exploitative photos prompted Aleksandar Hemon to write his novel)

In a largehearted gesture, largehearted boy pulls together a mega list of top ten book, music and other 2008 lists for those into such exercises. I want here to nominate New York magazine’s Sam Anderson’s 10 ten books of 2008 list, as the best list of its kind in 2008, primarily because it includes at its top, Aleksandar Hemon’s The Larzarus Project, the best novel I’ve read so far this year, and Globe and Mail music critic Carl Wilson’s Let’s Talk about Love, A Journey to the End of Taste, (see essay here), plucked, out of, if not obscurity, then certainly a sheltered niche, and one of several excellent books of criticism/essays I’ve read during 2008. The others are Rowan MacDonald’s contentious The Death of the Critic, see review here, which contains a superb summary of the history of literary criticism, James Wood’s beautifully instructive, combative How Fiction Works (see review here), and most entertaining of all, Cultural Amnesia by Clive James. What a joy it is to dip in to and out of this great collection of portraits. Filled with truly interesting, useful detail on the lives and thoughts of key shapers of 20th century art and culture, each brims and buzzes with erudition, humour and wonderous word placement. I love this book!

While I’m at it, I should mention, although it wasn’t published in 2008, Randall Jarrall’s Poetry and the Age, for its clear eyed, multi-layered conversation, Charles Richie-Elizabeth Bowen Correspondence/diaries edited by Victoria Glendinning (stay tuned for our conversation), winner of the most difficult book to put down once begun Award, and finally, David Gilmour’s The Film Club. Not sure if it’s because I relate so much to who he is and what he has done in his life or that I got along so well with him during our interview, or what, but this compassionate, honest telling of a father’s concern for and relationship with his son, slayed me.

So. Time to investigate the rest of Anderson’s list:

1. The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon (Riverhead)
2. The World Is What It Is by Patrick French (Knopf)
3. Lush Life by Richard Price (FSG)
4. Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End Of Taste by Carl Wilson (Continuum)
5. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño (FSG)(Time magazine’s Book of the Year
6. The Unfortunates by B. S. Johnson (New Directions)Try Jonathan Coe’s brill bio as a companion piece.
7. Three Memoirs: Epilogue, by Anne Roiphe (Harper); The Suicide Index, by Joan Wickersham (Harcourt); An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, by Elizabeth McCracken (Little, Brown).
8. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (FSG)
9. Day by A. L. Kennedy (Knopf)
10. Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster) Read and relish Ed Champion’s comprehensive round table discussion.

…and to note that the works of several novelists I’ve recently interviewed for The Biblio File are showing up with frequency on more than a few of largehearted’s top ten lists including:

Sasha Hemon’s The Larazus Project please listen here

Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances, please listen here

Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies, please listen here

and Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil, please stay tuned. I will post this interview within the next several days.

Hope you have a chance to listen over the hollies.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply