It’s been a busy year, and unfortunately we never get to read as many books as we want to. Add to that the fact that a lot of the wonderful books we do read have been published in previous years, so we can’t include them in our list. But here are our noteworthy pics for 2007.
Editor/Publisher Julia Gordon-Bramer:
Elliott Smith by Autumn DeWilde.
A requirement for every Elliott Smith fan. Read my review.
Writer Vincent Francone:
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
A strange, compelling love letter to literature that balances Beat style self-aggrandizement with the sort of self-deprecation recollected in tranquility that Kerouac didn’t live long enough to muster (though it’s doubtful he would have). A fragmented epic of would-be poets searching for the lost mother of “Visceral Realism” that stretches far beyond the scope of such a simple idea. The late Bolaño is a star in Latin America and Europe, but we’re just catching up here in the states (as always). Natasha Wimmer’s astounding translation helps in this process. Sit on your hands and count the days until she’s done with Bolaño’s 2666 (an epic, over 1000 pages, due out in ’08). It’s sure to be worth the wait.
Ice by Vladimir Sorokin
The term “post-modern” will likely be applied to this novel, perhaps not undeservedly, as it is the easiest way to label a book about a special race of heart singers who use ice hammers to the solar plexus to find their sleeping brethren. Sorokin, a controversial literary figure out of Russia, constructs a piecemeal novel with social implications, black humor and some incredibly chilling images. Not to be missed.
How I Became a Nun by César Aira
One of the most interesting writers to emerge from the bountiful literary continent of South America, Aira dazzles with this second translation by Chris Andrews. The hero of the story, a boy or a girl, depending on who you ask, encounters poison ice cream, first-grade woes, singing midgets, and all other things necessary for a great modern novel. A slim but fully packed gem.
Complete Poems of César Vallejo
A dual language tome that gathers the difficult to find collections and celebrated posthumous works of one of the most important poetic voices of the 20th century.
Fascination of Evil by Florian Zeller
Not a perfect book, but a very interesting near miss. Any look at western and Muslim culture clashes is worth a look, and Zeller certainly commands attention with an expertly crafted prose style (he’s far too young to be so good, damn him).
Amulet by Roberto Bolaño
Ten pages of The Savage Detectives tell the story of Amulet well enough, but this small novel that sprang from Bolaño’s larger, more ambitious masterpiece definitely does not deserve to be eclipsed.