My Top Ten Reads of 2012

Zeroville--Or as I like to call it, "Oneseville!"  The best novel I read this year. "Americans are in love with shame," Vikar says. "Can you imagine Bogart fucking Bergman with a cube of butter on the Champs-Elysees?" If you’re only going to read one book in 2013 (how sad), this is it.

I Am Not Sidney Poitier--Probably the most absurd, and possibly, sharpest story...ever.  "I am the ill-starred fruit of a hysterical pregnancy, and surprisingly, odd though I might be, I am not hysterical myself."

We Need To Talk About Kevin--Book as birth control. Disturbing and so beautiful. "We white folks cling to such an abiding sense of entitlement that when things go amiss, we cannot let go of this tortuously sunny, idiotically cheerful doppelganger of a world that we deserve in which life is swell."

Among the Dead—Misanthropic masterpiece. Not since Joseph Heller's Something Happened, have I read anything quite so mean, funny and honest. I don’t see anyone I know liking this. Not the most quotable book either.

Elsewhere, California--Funny, relatable, an earnest account of identity in crisis, and blooming. "Once you know someone's story, or even pieces of it, it's hard to dismiss them to pretend you know all there is to know about a person."

Shards--The truth is elusive and debatable, funny and painful, and one big contradiction. "It's shit in your mouth, but officially it's called ice cream."

Widow--Kobe Steak...Tartare. Short stories, slow reading pleasure. "So, it could be that she was shrill and laughing, insistently laughing, a laughter that demanded itself into being, her mind leaping at any possible comment by someone, or any attribute that could be made a joke, funny, fodder for the laugh track, and she knew it to be happening when it happened, was conscious of the laughing faces around her, conscious as though she stood behind glass and the faces at once stared, and laughed, their lips and eyes and mouths all laughing...and she could hear her body's desperate bullhorning." 

A Brilliant Novel in the Works--I laughed so hard I started crying; then I cried so hard, people asked if I was okay. Hyper-metafiction. You've been warned. “When my wife comes into the room and sees me in my underwear, with my $30 Lamy pen in my fist, and standing on my desk, she isn’t terribly impressed with me and my work habits.” 

These Dreams of You--I defy you not to like Oppan Erickson Style.  "Doesn't everyone choose aspects of his or her identity, or is race the rubicon on authenticity?"

Infinite Jest-- Neither a beach nor holiday read, it's been both to me. I read it last summer, and fell in love. This time around I couldn't read it slow enough; it’s nourishing on some many levels, you don’t want it to end. Re-reading this has officially become my end-of-year tradition to be reminded of the pain that so many people endure and share. “That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is about themselves; that 99% of this self-directed thinking consists of imagining and then getting ready for things that are going to happen to them; and then, weirdly, that if they stop to think about it, that 100% of the things they spend 99% of their time and energy imagining and trying to prepare for all the contingencies and consequences are never good. Then that this connects interestingly with the early-sobriety urge to pray for the literal loss of one’s mind. In short that 99% of the head’s thinking activity consists of trying to scare the everliving shit out of itself.”

*One of the most memorable, and by that I mean disturbing, things I read this year, is the butterfly eating scene from The SatanicVerses. There's something about Rushdie, and I've only read two of his books, I love his writing so much, I just don't get torn apart by it, except for this scene, which I hated and loved and had nightmares about. Too long to quote, just read the book; it's in chapter IV Ayesha.

**Better as a movie than a book: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, though the book does have a fantastic line that the movie doesn’t, “He wondered whether there was any love between human beings that did not rest upon some sort of self-delusion.”

What I'm really looking forward to in 2013:

Broom of the System (because the best way to combat DFW withdrawal is with more DFW)

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