2014 reads

by uzwi

I read quite a few books this chaotic Twitter- & Kindle-fuelled year, with lots of re-reads too. So this is not a list of “bests”, but–with one exception–of books I just really enjoyed. I know, not like me. But. The Free & Northline, Willy Vlautin. Wolves, Simon Ings; Helen Marshall’s Gifts For the One Who Comes After; Will Eaves’ The Absent Therapist, such an interesting form; Little Egypt, Leslie Glaister; Europe in Autumn, by the criminally under-published Dave Hutchinson; Marshland by Gareth E Rees; The Uninvited, Liz Jensen; The Adjacent, Christopher Priest; Pig Iron and Beastings by Ben Myers; Consequences, Penelope Lively; Tigerman, Nick Harkaway; Maze, JM McDermott; The Race, Nina Allan. For the pure tripped-out strangeness sf does best: Peter Watts’ absolutely mad & engrossing Firefall; and William Gibson’s sophisticated The Peripheral, in which the descendents of our beloved familiar Russian oligarchs farm the “stubs” of discarded timelines–saturated & cool at the same time, and, underneath, a wild ride. Bete, from the punning pen of the incalculable Adam Roberts; The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber, the upshot of which broke my heart & made me cry, obsolete old romantic I would appear to be. Nonfiction: Out of Place, Edward W Said; The Atlantic Ocean, Andrew O’ Hagan; the very absorbing Forbidden & Permitted Stories by Valeria Ugazio; The Ash & the Beech, Richard Mabey; Jonathan Meades’ Encyclopedia of Myself; The Uncanny, by the other Nicholas Royle; Jackdaw Cake & Naples ’44, by Norman Lewis (the latter a Twitter recommend from Adelle Stripe). The Kindle led me into bad habits, namely reading a few Booker hopefuls for a change, including Richard Powers’ Orfeo and The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (went on to read The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, which I enjoyed as much if not more). Re-reads: The Triumph of Night, Edith Wharton. After forty-odd years, Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time, which surprised me with its intelligence, humour and a dry kind of grace. Tim Etchells’ savage Endland Stories, which ought to be read in parallel with and in opposition to Graham Swift’s England stories. Most exciting job of work, 2014: writing the introduction to Ballard’s The Drought for the new Fourth Estate edition. Most enjoyable literary hashtag: #LossLit. Recommendations not yet followed up: The Dig by Cynan Jones, which I’ve heard is brutal & good. Most boring book of the year: Joseph O’Neil’s novel. The Dog, indeed.