Yet this does not mean that the few books published here in the US in 2016 that aren't fully reprinted material which I read didn't have some great stories in them. No, although I didn't write reviews for four of the six books, that was in part because I found the time necessary to write fitting reviews for some of them to be rather wanting and by the time I did have more time, weeks or months had passed and I kept wanting to read something else rather than write a full-fledged review rather than a quick mention on Facebook.
But since 2016 ends for me in roughly an hour (and I have to wake up in 7 hours to work 4 hours before traveling to run my first 5K of 2017), I thought I would give a provisional "ranking" of these books, with a brief description for those curious about them:
6. R. Scott Bakker, The Great Ordeal - reviewed back in July.
5. Jack Kerouac, The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings - reviewed back in November.
4. Lawrence Rosenwald, War No More: Three Centuries of American Antiwar & Peace Writing - this Library of America anthology published this spring collects in one volume a very good selection of historical protests against war, along with the various strands of cultural thought that helped shaped diverse movements united by a common opposition to war as a means and as an end itself.
3. Max Porter, Grief is the Thing with Feathers - originally published in 2015 in the UK, this June US release is short (barely 100 pages) but it packs the power of several gut punches as it traces a family's dealing with loss. The quasi-lyrical arrangement of scenes adds greatly to what is already a powerfully poignant tale.
2. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El laberinto de los espíritus - I only finished this two nights ago, so I plan on writing a full review in the coming week or two. I just need to dwell some more on some of the revleations made in this concluding volume to his four-part series. What I do know is that the story, despite occasional raggedness in a few places, tied the previous volumes together in both surprising and long-expected ways. More in the review itself.
1. Elizabeth McKenzie, The Portable Veblen - longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award, this story contains a very important squirrel, which being a squirrel, automatically makes the book much better. Leaving aside this bit of facetiousness, McKenzie's use of the squirrel in the midst of a young couple's internal and external conflicts is done adroitly, creating a multi-layered text that I will likely re-read again in 2017 before writing a formal review. It is certainly the most memorable tale that I completed this year that was published then.
Hopefully my 2017 end-of-year list will contain more entries, but I think there is something here in this short list for many readers who might have diverse literary tastes.