Monday, December 11, 2006

Best of 2006?

Salon is doing a week of the best books of 2006 - starting today with blurbs from a bunch of writers. I haven't heard of most of the books listed, and, frankly, it reads like a laundry list of authors trying to impress each other with their obscure references. The Road by Cormac McCarthy is mentioned several times. Jennifer Weiner of In Her Shoes writes the following:

For me, 2006 marked the lamentable triumph of style over substance. Designated PYT Marisha Pessl's much-hyped debut came tap-dancing in, all bells and whistles (and footnotes, and illustrations). There may have been a strong brew underneath, but I couldn't get through the froth. [...]

I'll pick two winners: Ken Kalfus' "A Disorder Peculiar to the Country," in which a pair of narcissistic New Yorkers have their divorce interrupted by 9/11. Hilarity ensues. And for those who crave a big, sprawling, old-fashioned, romantic tale over the too-cool-for-school po-mo tricks of perspective or punctuation, Stephen King's "Lisey's Story" was a completely ravishing meditation on the thin skin between reality and nightmare, and the mysteries of writing, and of marriage.

Ooo - SNAP! So, she didn't like Special Topics in Calamity Physics! I thought that was rather rich, considering that the best thing about In Her Shoes were the poems by Elizabeth Bishop. Actually, I thank her for the introduction, but I really felt that Weiner was holding back in that book. Parts were quite beautiful, but it was like she was determined to a write a "light" book, it felt groomed for mass-appeal. Possibly this Disorder Peculiar to the Country is worth reading, but I really find it hard to believe that Stephen King's book is (although it surely is big, sprawling and old-fashioned - that's a good thing?) I happen to like too-cool-for-school po-mo "tricks", which is why I'm now reading Boy Detective Fails by Chicago author Joe Meno. It comes with a decoder ring - neat trick!


Lyman said...

"Lisey's Story" is actually based on a short-story by the same name that is in the McSweeney's anthology you gave me last year. The short story is really good and there is some Stephen King that I absolutely love, it might be a good read.

Kathy said...

C'mon: admit it... You just wanted to say SNAP!!