Originally Posted by California Dreamer
Only just stumbled on this thread. Out of curiosity, I thought I''d see how I'm going this year. Looks like 50 books is doable, so I'm in. I'll only review these in brief: a lot of what I read early this year was lost in a fog of painkillers and tiredness.
1. New Collected Poems, Tomas Transtromer. A mistake. This book reminded me why I don't read poetry.
2. Between the Assassinations, Aravind Ardiga. Enjoyed this. He is great at portraying the lives of the Indian underclasses.
3.The Locked Room, Sjowall and Wahloo. Been reading theMartin Beck series in order. The progenitors and inspirers of a lot of the Scandinavian detective fiction that's so big now, as well as a lot of other crime fiction writers.
4.Outrage, Arnaldur Indridason. Sorry Arnaldur, but a Reykjavik mystery without Erlendur is a waste of your time and ours.
5.The Discovery of France, Graham Robb. Social history of regional France, with a lot of surprising details.
6.The Abominable Man, Sjowall and Wahloo. Martin Beck again.
7.One Thousand and One Nights, Hanan al-Shaykh. Just OK. A clever construction revealed at the end, but it lacks the elegance and excitement of other translations I've read.
8.People Who Eat Darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry. A true crime story with a creepy villain, but it lacked impact because the crime wasn't as widely reported here as in the UK.
9.Angelmaker, Nick Harkaway. Seriously, what is it with automata? They seem to be everywhere now, in films, radio shows, books, even Peter Carey's new novel has one! This was an unpretentious page-turner with some fun ideas. I'd be willing to give a sequel a go.
10.Quarterly Essay 44: Man-made World: Choosing Between Progress and Planet, Andrew Charlton. Charlton was one of Kevin Rudd's inner circle, and so was at the eye of the storm in Copenhagen. This essay makes it clear just how big a challenge for Australia achieving our targets will be, and what we will have to be prepared to sacrifice to get there. Charlton puts his faith in technological breakthroughs.
11.His Illegal Self, Peter Carey. Hated it. Carey should not try to write realistic novels. His brilliance is in magic realism and grotesqueries.
12.The Cartographer, Peter Twohig. Excellent first novel about a young boy who witnesses a murder and retreats into mapmaking and superherodom. Should appeal to those who liked TJ Spivet. Especially good for Melbournians, as the young cartographer's maps being our inner city in the 50s to life.
13.Autumn Laing, Alex Miller. Good novel about a fraught adulterous affair between a socialite patron of the arts and an up and coming artist. Based on the lives of well-known arts patrons John and Sunday Reed, and the artist Sidney Nolan, with whom Sunday had a torrid affair.
14.The Last Word, Ben Macintyre. Brilliantly funny series of articles about the English language, from the pages of The Times.
15.Macbeth, Fiona Watson. Watson spent about 70% of the book getting to the point where Macbeth is born, and had nothing to add to our knowledge of the Scottish king, other than he once visited Rome. Shot through with flights of fiction, as if the book wasn't padded enough. A travesty of a history, and deeply disappointing.
16.We the Animals, Justin Torres. Just OK. The big reveal at the end is telegraphed from a mile off.
17.Point Omega, Don de Lillo. Let's just say it's not de Lillo's best, shall we?
18.Quarterly Essay 45: On the Importance of Animals, Anna Klein. While I"ll never become a veg, the section Klein wrote on the use of animals in experimentation convinced me that our ethics in this area fall well short.
19.John the Revelator, Peter Murphy. Covered with fulsome attestations from Irish novelists, none of which it lived up to.
20.Eleven, Mark Watson. Clever novel about the impact on people's lives of even small events, and not at all what you'd expect from a stand-up comedian
21.Melbourne, Sophie Cunningham. A portrait of a year in my home town, starting from Black Saturday 2009, the day when the State went up in flames. She captures the place and its sub-cultures brilliantly
22.He Died With His Eyes Open, Derek Raymond. The first of the Factory novels, a classic of hard-boiled UK crime fiction. Now where can I find the rest of them? Aargh!