Tuesday, July 21, 2009

52 books in 52 weeks

19. The Best American Short Stories 2008

Salman Rushdie edited last year's collection and it seems he's fond of shorter, action-driven stories. Kevin Brockmeier's story "The Year of Silence" was quite nice as well as Rebecca Makkai's "The Worst You Ever Feel" and Danielle Evans's "Virgins." I'm always amazed how many heavy hitters - Munro, Lethem, Millhauser, Saunders, Homes, Woolf - rise to the top despite their anonymity.

20. The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle

Boyle had me at "Kinsey" so I was predisposed to the subject before beginning this fictionalized chronicle of Kinsey's sex studies and the man's personal life. The narrator, however, is what makes the novel impressive. Perhaps based on real-life assistant Ralph Voris, John Milk relates events with a consistent, conservative voice that makes the narrative seem a convincing historical record.

21. The New Valley by Josh Weil

At a Skylight Books reading a couple of months ago, Josh Weil read from the third novella in this collection of three, and I was pretty blown away. "Sarverville Remains" is chilling, poignant, and told in a well-executed, effective form of West Virginian dialect. The other two novellas are sadly not as good. "Ridge Weather" establishes the setting of the collection well and has its touching moments, but "Stillman Wing" didn't do it for me at all.

22. Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives, edited by Peter Terzian

I reviewed this book here.

23. Throw Like A Girl: Stories by Jean Thompson

I borrow most of the books I read from the LA Public Library, so while the waiting list for Thompson's latest Do Not Deny Me was on the long side, I was able to get this earlier story collection pretty quickly. The variety and depth of the many female characters she created here may be unrivaled. Thompson has great range and a finely tuned sense of when a story should end.

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