Posted by Tobias Carroll
This is the second of two lists of the books I read this year that I most enjoyed. Here, the focus is on older books that I first encountered this year; strangely, the focus here is much more on fiction than on my other list, and I’m a little uneasy that this list is far more dude-heavy than its counterpart.
I wasn’t entirely sure where to fit Michael Kimball’s Us, an older novel revised for its first US publication; it ended up going here more or less because it seemed of a piece with the other novel of Kimball’s on this list. Alternately: these are my lists, and I’m kind of making up the taxonomy as I go along…
A running theme of 2011 seemed to be a number of smart folks telling me that John Williams’s Stoner was a fantastic read. In the first few weeks of this year, I picked up the novel and read it, and was quietly devastated. To say “it’s a novel about an academic” doesn’t really get at the bulk , which is of man living through a massive transformation, from an agrarian life to a life of the mind (apologies to Barton Fink). And it’s fantastically written, emotionally resonant, and feels utterly complete once the last page has been turned.
“Typically my writing prompt is nothing fancy—just your basic same old, same old. Fear of death.” Lydia Millet shares on artist Dimitri Kozyrev.
Posted by Tobias Carroll
In the end, it’s the messy works that get me: the movies and books that should not under any circumstances work and yet do; the idiosyncratic works are the ones that invariably burrow into my subconscious and stay there for years. This happens with films a lot: Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain might be the apex of this: watching it is a deeply subjective experience (even moreso than the watching of most films), and it’s less the promised work of science fiction than a deeply personal, highly intimate work about grief. Tarsem Singh’s The Fall is similar: it’s at once an adventure story and a film about storytelling, one in which multiple tellers revise and reimagine the same narrative. I expect that if I revisited Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, I’d have a similar experience. It’s almost impossible to evaluate these films empirically: they create their own groundrules; their narratives work on their own terms.
A year and a half ago, I was reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians in trade paperback. Looking at the very back page, I saw an ad teasing the sequel, The Magician King. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to think: The Magicians was as much a meditation on certain fantasy tropes as a satisfying work on its own. Could Grossman sustain that for a second book? As it turns out, that’s not at all what’s going on with the sequel in question. Though references to everything from The Once and Future King to The Venture Brothers crop up in its pages, The Magician King is much more about pushing its cosmology into newer and stranger places; it’s a sequel that surpasses its predecessor. (Though now having finished both books, I’m hoping to see an interview with Grossman about some of the late-in-the-book revelations in this one, as I’m curious about what his thematic intentions were. Yes, I’m rambling a bit, but I’m willing to be looked upon as a rambler for the sake of spoiler prevention. Also, I do ramble a lot.)
Also, Nick Antosca’s review is well worth reading. Continue reading
Above: Fanbase, pre-moshing. Or post-moshing… hard to tell.
When does an event not only live up to its hype, but actually exceeds it? Bowie collaborating with Eno? The last episode of Alf? John Madden’s turducken? We can now add Vol. 1’s “Civic Pride: Washington D.C.” to that distinguished list. Held last Thursday at Greenpoint mecca WORD Brooklyn, Civic Pride’s latest edition was the end-all tribute to the District of Columbia, featuring a stellar line-up of authors and at an atmosphere more electric than the night Minor Threat turned Marion Berry onto Coca-Cola onstage at the 9:30 Club. Let this series of pictures serve as a temptation to those who missed it, and a tribute to our fantastic readers and attendees! You are the dream weavers! CIV-IC PRI-DE. CIV-IC PRI-DE.
All photo credit to the mighty Shelley Wasserman. Continue reading
Especially after reading his interview at Fictionaut.
Do you have a mentor? Do you yourself mentor?
I don’t officially mentor, but there is a young man, who was homeless and addicted to crack for a time, and I try to help when I can. If it’s just writing that we’re talking about, I don’t have a mentor, but I do help people with some of the vagaries of the publishing industry when I can – contracts, agents, all that.