The OF Blog: January 2007

Monday, January 15, 2007

Closing the book on 2006 Reads

Unfortunately, I've been rather busy (and sick a few of the days that I didn't work) and haven't had the time to post the remaining reads that I did in 2006. I ended up reading 117 books in 2006. There were 64 books published in Spanish, 52 in English, and 1 ( Il Pendolo di Foucault) in Italian. My favorites for the year are listed in entries below this. Like last time, the comments will be extremely brief.

91. Gene Wolfe, Soldier of Sidon - This is the newly-released third volume in the Latro series and even after a hiatus of 17 years, Wolfe does an excellent job with continuing the search of Latro for his long-term memory while embedding the text with enigmatic clues. One of my favorite reads for 2006.

92. Edward Whittemore, The Sinai Tapestry - It is almost a criminal shame that this book (and the three that followed it) are not universally known and read! It is a hard-to-describe-in-a-single-sentence type of book, so I'll just note that I found it to be one of the more original and best reads of 2006.

93. Danilo Kiš, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich - Read it, thought the stories were most wonderful. Need to read more of his work.

94. Jeffrey Ford, The Physiognomy

95. Jeffrey Ford, Memoranda

96. Jeffrey Ford, The Beyond
- Three wonderful books that I first read in 2003. Re-read them again and once again enjoyed them greatly. Highly recommended books, if you can find them around.

97. Roberto Bolaño, Los detectives salvajes - First read in 2004. This was one of the most challenging books that I read in Spanish and the re-read was necessary to absorb more of this tale of a 20-year-long journey that two men take in search of a missing person. Their adventures and the way they are told are something else.

98. Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer - One of the earliest (late 18th century) and best comedy of manners plays.

99. V.S. Naipaul, A Way in the World - A very autobiographical (and excellent) novel about life in Trinidad from one of the more acclaimed authors of the late 20th century.

100. Carlos Fuentes, Los años con Laura Díaz - The first Fuentes novel that I read back in 2004 and one of the better tales of life in 20th century Mexico that I've read in either English or Spanish.

101. Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch - I reviewed this over at wotmania in December. Loved it. See my awards blog entry for more.

102. Edmundo Paz Soldán, Desencuentros - A collection of very short (often less than 3 pages) stories that are interconnected that deal with alienation, among other topics. While I enjoyed them, it wasn't as enjoyable as his latter works, especially his novel La materia del deseo.

103. Tobias Buckell, Crystal Rain - I reviewed this at wotmania and it made my Top 3 Debuts of 2006 List.

104. David Sedaris, Holidays on Ice - Three words: Crinkle the Elf. Nuff said about this hilarious collection of fiction and essays on the holidays and the surrounding madness.

105. Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan's Tale: In the Night Garden - Reviewed at wotmania. Included in my Best of 2006 List.

106. Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora - Reviewed at wotmania. Included in two lists in my Best of 2006 blog entry.

107. Paul Poissel/Paul la Farge, The Facts of Winter - One of the more clever deceptive writings. Dude even went so far as to write it in French and then translate it into English to preserve the fiction. And the "dreams" depicted aren't too shabby either.

108. José Eustacio Rivera, La vorágine - What Macondo and Gabo did to highlight the abuses of the banana plantations, Rivera did for the other agricultural workers in Colombia during the early 20th century. Impressive work, especially considering that it came out in the 1930s, so soon after the events hinted at occurred.

109. Ivo Andrić, The Bridge on the Drina - Powerful. Moving. Saddening. These are three words that I'd use to describe this book.

110. Sergio Ramírez, Margarita, está linda la mar - This 1998 Alfaguara Prize winner takes this line from a Rubén Darío poem and turns it into a fascinating account of Nicarauga during the first Somoza regime.

111. Zoran Živković, Seven Touches of Music - The seven interconnected stories in this "mosaic novel" make for a series of moving reads. One of the best works I've read from this wonderful Serbian author.

112. Federico García Lorca, Poeta en Nueva York - Collection of poems written in New York in 1929-1930 by one of the more famous 20th century Spanish poets.

113. Kelly Link, Magic for Beginners - Reviewed at wotmania. Made my Best of 2006 list. Loverly. Her second collection of stories. Maybe her best to date.

114. Jorge Luis Borges, El libro de los seres imaginarios - A bestiary of imaginary beasts and monsters, 116 in all, collated from various mythologies or Borges own fertile imagination.

115. Sergio Ramírez, Mil y una muertes
- A collection of famous deaths and interpretations by one of Nicarauga's most famous authors. Very good.

116. Mark Danielewski, Only Revolutions - Ballsy. Intriguing. Celebratory. Damn good, too.

117. Jeff VanderMeer, Shriek: An Afterword - Saved the best of 2006 for last, apparently, as this ended up being my Favorite Read of 2006.

And so closes the door on my 2006 reads. Sometime shortly, I hope to start posting my 2007 reads, perhaps by month. I do know that I've read 15 books for January, so I'm off to a better start than in 2006. Perhaps I'll find the time to write longer reviews. Perhaps. But I do hope many of you will consider most of the books I've mentioned as being my 2006 reads. With any luck, 2007 will bring myself only even more wonderful reads!
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