Time for some end-of-year stuff. I started the year with the excellent Chris Adrian and his excellent The Children’s Hospital and finished with Tom McCarthy’s Men in Space. Lots of good stuff in between. I was excited to discover Joseph Coulson’s fine Of Song and Water, easily the best novel I’ve read about jazz – though it’s about fathers, sons, and boating as well. It’s a masterful work.
Disappointments: Murakami’s After Dark; Paul Auster’s Brooklyn Follies and Travels in the Scriptorium; Stephen Dixon’s Meyer. There were others. Seems like more disappointing reads this year than last.
Best surprises: Robert Lopez’ Part of the World and Simon Van Booy’s The Secret Lives of People in Love, both sent to me for review; Lydie Salvayre’s The Company of Ghosts, picked off the shelf on a whim, no idea why; and Jason Shiga’s Bookhunter, which so-briefly made me feel like a kid again. And of course, need I mention McCarthy’s Remainder again? (Guess so.)
I had plans at the end of 2006 to keep a more thorough list of what
I read in 2007, but I know there were some gaps. At some point I read Memories of My Melancholy Whores,
but it appears on neither the books-read list in my email or the one in
my journal. There’s a pretty big gap here at the end, as well – I
haven’t been reading much of anything lately.
It’s been a strange year; a lot more stress, more uncertainty, more
feeling lost. Great things as well – a new daughter, new friends,
seeing my first daughter go from a toddler to a girl. She was doing
some writing today, practicing writing names, asking me how to spell
them. I went in the other room for something that took longer than it
should have, as many things do, and when I came back she held up her
paper. She had signed the paper "From" and then her name – not
actually "from" but FMM, but the thing is that she hadn’t written that
word before, hadn’t been practicing it, didn’t have anything to copy it
by. I asked her how she had done it, and she told me that she just
listened to the sounds in the word and then made the letters. I can’t
imagine a better way to end the year for someone who loves words,
writing, letters, and that girl.