If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that I dispatch quarterly about the books I've read, in some form of hybrid micro-review/reading journal enterprise.
Of the 74 I got through in 2011, these were my 10 best reads.
10. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie (1993)
09. And Also Sharks, by Jessica Westhead (2011)
08. July, July, by Tim O'Brien (2002)
07. My White Planet, by Mark Anthony Jarman (2008)
06. The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink (1995)
05. Post Office, by Charles Bukowski (1971)
04. Taxi!, by Helen Potrebenko (1975)
03. Room, by Emma Donoghue (2010)
02. Barney's Version, by Mordecai Richler (1997)
01. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera (1984)
The quarterly wrap ups will continue on my Facebook page, but as of now, I will also be posting the reviews here, on my blog, one at a time. Here's the first:
Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby (2009)
A work of genius, to an extent, as Hornby has his finger squarely on the lonely, obsessive enterprise that music fandom has become, updating High Fidelity in the wake of the Internet much like Douglas Coupland's JPod was an update on Microserfs. The novel gives us three characters: childless (1) Annie, who's been with slacker and obsessive fan of (2) Tucker Crowe, (3) Duncan, for 15 years, in a holding pattern in a dreary English seaside town. Duncan runs an Internet fan board re: Tucker, who for his part, hasn't released an album in two decades, and is holed up in Pennsylvania with his most recent illegitimate child and its mother. When Tucker's hit album, Juliet, is re-released minus its production values (as Juliet, Naked - Beatles' Let it Be in 2003, anyone?), Annie's decision to listen to it first (without Duncan), and her difference of opinion as to whether it's better than the original, kicks off a sequence of events that makes her and Duncan rethink their relationship. I really liked the first 5/8 (250 pages out of around 400), but - slight spoiler - when Tucker himself enters the story, the focus changes, and though rooting for Annie (and, as with all Hornby male protagonists, only sort of rooting for Duncan to get his shit together), I much preferred Tucker in absence than in presence; the story sags as the window opens further into his life. That said, I demolished this book: started on a Thursday night, finished Saturday morning. An entertaining read that only misses the mark when the author plays away from his strengths (i.e., writing about fandom), it may nevertheless be Hornby's best.