Best Reads of 2010 Part 2

Wow, that’s a big pic.  I’ll sneak some text under it.

It’s been a rough February.  I tried, in five different ways, to get to AWP, the writers’ conference in Washington DC, this year.  In six different ways, I was prevented from attending.  My continuing flu is the sixth way.  In combating the want to do things that I am tired of doing–namely sleeping  or watching random videos on YouTube–I’m brought back to the books I read last year, all of which are well worth picking up.  The highlighted text has links to the books in question…

On Photography–Susan Sontag:  I’d not known of her groundbreaking essay until after I heard Gavin Bryars’ recording, which I reviewed for MusicWeb International a couple of years ago.  I finally got around to reading the actual essay back in April.

Grave of Light, by Alice Notley. I met Notley entirely by chance in Atlanta at the same yearly writers’ conference in Atlanta that I’m too sick to attend this year in DC.  I must confess that I turned into a 14 year-old gawper when I realized who I was talking to.  This volume of collected poems is not only a gathering of a poet’s greatest work, but is also arranged to be a specific artistic sequence of its own.  Fascinating and wonderful to read.

The Man Suit; Zachary Schomburg:  I bought this the same day I bought Joe Hall’s Pigafetta (mentioned later in this post)–The poems in this volume were fuel for dreams for months afterwards.

Don Juan, His Own Version, by Peter Handke:  Handke’s politics have gotten muddled with his popularity lately, and his latest novel–I really did try to get through it– is a very heavily congested mass, but this novella is a beautiful play on something I’ve been fascinated with, namely, temporal recurrence and its musicalilty, both as fugue and canon.

Beyond the Fire, by Mary Leader: Leader is someone who has overturned the way I write in many ways, and this most recent volume of her poetry is a good and cohesive example of her interest in traditional forms and experimental method.  I recently reviewed this book at cow heavy press.

Pigafetta is My Wife, by Joe Hall: A wonderful book on the elastic tether between two people in love.  The writing is immediate, haunting, and wonderful to read.  A much-recommended book.

The Other City, by Michal Ajvaz: See my earlier post about magical Czech fiction.  One of my top five books of 2010, this is a beautifully hallucinatory book on parallel reality, with secret underground rooms, ocean liners plowing through city streets at night, and boats sinking through locks into subterranean spaces.

Household Hints for the End of Time, by Ken Howe:  A poetry book by the Principal Horn player of the Regina symphony in Alberta?  Yes, and it’s a wonderful collection, published a while ago by Brick Books.  You can find it here.

Mysteries of Small Houses by Alice Notley:  I’ve been on a Notley binge this past year, reading all I can of her work, ever since her amazing Descent of Alette, which I read back in 2006.  It’s set in Paris, where Notley now lives.

Nightwood, by Djuna Barnes:  I tried, really tried to get through her Ryder, but found it too inside-jokey and nudge-in-the-ribs witty to enjoy, but this Parisian novel is dense, well-written, and makes you read it on its own terms. The footsteps the characters take can still be traced by present-day readers.

An Oak Hunch, by Phil Hall:  Astoundingly well-written, I keep going back to this book in 2011.  Well worth picking up.

Well, there’s my Top 20 (plus some) of 2010.  I’m well on my way to a top 20 for 2011.  Let me know what your best reads were last year!

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~ by dblomenb on February 5, 2011.

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