A Year’s Reading

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – considered by many to be McCarthy’s best work. It’s good – very good – but I’m not sure if it’s my favourite. I think I prefer The Road and No Country For Old Men.

Home by Toni Morrisson – not sure how this one really qualifies as a novel. To me it seems too short for that. I saw the twist coming well before the end, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a fine piece of writing. Told as a third person narrative mixed in with first person sections, this book actually prompted me to write a short story that switched between third and first person in a similar way.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks – my first Iain Banks novel. Fantastic. An off-beat narrator showing us their bizarre life, with the threat of a murderous brother always looming in the background. I’ll definitely be reading more Banks.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – one of those ones that everyone seems to have done in school, apart from me. Fairly spartan writing, with some perfectly-executed moments of real emotional impact, particularly the ending.

Far Bright Star by Robert Olmstead – a Western, part of a trilogy of linked stories, and very McCarthy-esque. For me, it started strongly, and the shootout was handled well, but the subsequent walkabout in the desert seemed to drag (which was probably intentional, but I found myself skimming).

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – a real contrast in tone to Far Bright Star. I read this in two days and enjoyed it immensely, although because of the film, I couldn’t help picturing Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter throughout.

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx – nothing short of excellent. A man bumbling through life moves to his ancestral home of New Foundland, and basically has a second chance to make a life for himself. The many secondary characters are all interesting, none are two-dimensional, and some are probably deserving of stories of their own – many of which are alluded to in the novel.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson – written in the 50s or 60s (I forget) this now seems somewhat cliché – a first-person narrative told from the point of the view of a psychopath. However, I suppose that when it was written, it was probably less cliché.

Currently reading Underworld by Don Delillo. I’m about a third of the way through. The novel loosely follows a baseball as it is passed from one owner to another, all set against the backdrop of the Cold War. Excellent writing, but one of those books where you need to be in it for the long haul.