I have to pass on movies and music b/c the former, I barely saw any
this year (and most of it was idle trash since I get dragged to movies
w. friends much of the time) and the latter b/c I'm hopelessly lazy
and don't buy/download stuff.
Books, there's just too damned many to list, and luckily most of my
faves made it on January's BEST OF or GIFT BOOKS list, but I'll
mention a few anyway:
Laura Lippman's EVERY SECRET THING for being a literary novel with one
hell of a plot.
Jules Hardy's MISTER CANDID for the same reason, also because it
skirts some seriously nasty taboos and teeters on the edge of being
over-the-top without ever going over. Having also read her first
novel, ALTERED LAND, I can safely say that she's got a wonderfully
bright future ahead of her, and her prose is absolutely beautiful,
whether in a more languid literary approach or in thriller mode.
Babs Horton's A JARFUL OF ANGELS for also doing the literary/crime
thing and taking me back to my childhood of reading Lucy Maud
Montgomery's wonderful books about childhood friendships. I can't wait
for her next book, which isn't a crime novel but looks to be just as
beautifully written as this book was.
Steve Hamilton's BLOOD IS THE SKY for the scene in the woods, for a
major leap forward in the series, and for just being a flat-out good
Martyn Waites' BORN UNDER PUNCHES because it made me laugh, cry, and
featured some phenomenally lyrical writing. And maybe because I was a
minority voice in loving the book while others panned it, but I'm
stubborn that way.
William Landay's MISSION FLATS for being the best debut I read all
year, and for the ending.
John Connolly's BAD MEN, for being a Western and a damned good one
too. And yes, you read it right, it's a Western in structure and
archetype, that supernatural stuff is all window-dressing.
In terms of reissues and oldies, Dorothy B. Hughes' IN A LONELY PLACE
for being ahead of her time, Roger L. Simon's Moses Wine novels
because they are so funny and politically charged, Thomas Perry's THE
BUTCHER'S BOY and METZGER'S DOG for being fantastic thrillers that are
wonderfully intelligent, and the collected works of Ross Thomas
because he's my favorite mystery writer.
And turning away from the genre, Sherman Alexie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS
for the reasons Jeremy and Jen gave, Neal Pollack's NEVER MIND THE
POLLACKS for its gleefully insane satire of rock criticism, Tracy
Chevalier's THE LADY AND THE UNICORN because it affirms why she's
become one of my very favorite writers, and though it wasn't published
this year, Elizabeth Smart's BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND
WEPT because it tore my guts out and wrenched my heart. (and Rosemary
Sullivan's biography of Smart is a wonderful work as well and worth
And finally, Steve Almond's MY LIFE IN HEAVY METAL, which I reread
over and over and over and never get tired of the stories. Women
should read it to understand men. Men should read it to understand
themselves. I freaking love this book.
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind:
sarah AT weinmans DOT com