37. From the Mouth of the Whale, by Sjon (2011)
One thing I think Amazon does quite well is their recommendations function. I've picked up on a few authors new to me as a result, and enjoyed some books I otherwise would have missed.
Amazon recommended Sjon, presumably because of all the Scandinavian detective fiction I buy there. Sjon is a whole other thing entirely. From the Mouth of the Whale is a fabulist piece of magic realism, blended with elements of poetry and historical fiction.
Set in the early part of the 17th century, the book is the account of Jonas, an exiled heretic marooned on a tiny island off Iceland. Jonas is a renowned poet, self-taught scholar and layer of ghosts and demons. His successes have stirred resentments against him, resulting in him falling afoul of implacable enemies. In the midst of musings about natural history and religion, Jonas reveals his story and the tragedies that have befallen him.
This is not an easy read and took a while for me to get into. I'd only recommend it hesitantly, because you'd need to like the more arty style of literary fiction to enjoy it. That said, I've already bought another of his, and am keen to read it.
37(a). Sabotage, by Daniel Altman (2011).
Too short to include on the list. Altman seems to be a pretty credible commentator, but he really does not like Republicans, that's pretty clear. In this polemic he lays out an argument that the Republicans have been sobataging the recovery of the US economy through an implacable determination not to allow Obama the opportuniy to go ino the 2012 elections with a healthy economy for an electoral platform. Some of his argument, such as the folly of their brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, I agree with. Some other things, such as blaming them for suicide rates, seem excessive. As with all such pieces, your judgment is usually determined by your poltitical stance.
The conservative opposition here in Australia tends to copy GOP tactics and policies. They will almost certainly form government next year, so I'd have to say I find the precedents a bit disturbing.
Time for some escapist fluff, I reckon. :-)