| Tuesday, December 26, 2006
| 10 BEST BOOKS FOR 2006
|1). ALISON BECHDEL, "FUN HOME"
THE UNLIKELY LITERARY SUCCESS of 2006 is a stunning memoir about a girl growing up in a small town with her cryptic, perfectionist dad and slowly realizing that a.) she is gay b.) he is too. Oh, and it's a comic book; Bechdel's breathtakingly smart commentary duets with eloquent line drawings. Forget genre and sexual orientation; this is a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.
2). LAWRENCE WRIGHT, "THE LOOMING TOWER: AL-QAEDA AND THE
ROAD TO 9/11"
IN THIS COMPULSVIELY READABLE, deeply unnerving book, Wright traces the rise of Islamic terrorism form the Egyptian polemicist Sayyid Qutb to the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood to Osama bin Laden. Enter John O'Neill, the FBI counterterrorism chief who connected the dots of al-Qaeda's plot and tried in vain to warn his bosses right up to the day he died - Sept. 11,2001.
3). CORMAC MACARTHY, " A SAD MAN AND HIS YOUNG SON"
A SAD MAN AND HIS YOUNG SON trudges across the burnt landscape of a world that has committed suicide in some catastrophe. This could be Mad Max, or it could be Samuel Beckett; it's certainly as thrilling as the one and as emotionally costly as the other. Just keep telling yourself. It's only a novel, it's only a novel....
4). BILL BUFORD, "HEAT"
IN A MOMENT OF MIDLIFE RECKLESSNESS, Buford, a journalist with no culinary training, became a kitchen slave - his words - to Mario Batali. It takes a big talent to render in words the animal, essentially anti-verbal experience of eating. It takes a big man to describe the hilarious humiliation to which an apprentice chef is subjected. Buford is both. He's also lucky; the brilliant, insatiable, demonic Batali is the kind of character writers sell their souls for.
5). THOMAS E. RICKS, "FIASCO: THE AMERICAN MILITARY
ADVENTURE IN IRAQ"
THE TITLE SAYS IT ALL. This is a complete account o the arrogance and fecklessness of the Bush Administration during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq and to the predictable disaster that followed. Ricks gets his most damning recollections from the military officers whose warnings that Iraq brushed aside by civilian bosses. Depressing reading, and essential.
6). RICHARD FORD, "THE LAY OF THE LAND"
IN FORD'S THIRD FRANK BASCOMBE novel, real estate prices are good, but much else is not. Now 55, Bascombe is prosperous but wary, licking his wounds after two failed marriages and weathering the indignities of prostate cancer. Luckily, though, his lyrical take on mundane life, his steady-state exasperation and his peerless b.s. detector are all in good working order.
7). GARY SHTEYNGART, "ABSURDISTAN"
TOO MANY NOVELS FEEL TIDY, as if the world were neatly divisibke into East and West, good and bad. Adburdistan is not tidy, nor is its hero, grotesquely obese Misha Vainberg, a rich young Russian obsessed with New York City. Misha is trapped (for legal reasons) in his homeland, and his longing - lus vodka - powers this endlessly inventive, logubriously funny post-Soviet picaresque.
8). HAMPTON SIDES, "BLOOD AND THUNDER:AN EPIC OF THE AMERICAN WEST"
WITH THE FUR TRAPPER AND WILDERNESS scout Kit Carson as his focus, Sides has constructed a heartbreaking history of three cultures in the Southwest - American Indians, Mexicans and Americans - during and after the Mexican-American war, an age of bloody confrontations in which the Navajo would be all but swept away.
9). DAVID MITCHELL, "BLACK SWAN GREEN"
MITCHELL'S LAST NOVEL, CLOUD ATLAS, skipped from the 19th century to the far future. This time he contents himself with one year - 1982 - in the life of a boy - dreamy, stammering Jason Taylor - in one English town. But everything's still there: this funny, close-focus coming-of-age story is also a huge, swirling novel of power, death and love.
10). DAVE EGGERS, "WHAT IS THE WHAT"
WHEN VALENTINO WAS YOUNG, soldiers burned his village in Sudan.Parentless, he walked hundreds of miles in search of safety. When he came to America as a young man, his problems started again. Don't read this novel - which is closely based on his life - for any reason other than it's a great document of hope, despair and the will to keep walking.
(SOURCE:TIMEMAG by: Lev Grossman and Richard Lacayo)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 10:21 PM