Five for 2011

on Sunday, December 19, 2010
Late December always gets me salivating as I look into my crystal ball to see what lies ahead in the world of literature. 2010 proved a very good reading year (though not quite as good as 2009), with several of my favourite writers cranking out excellent new novels. Even better, I discovered a few new names to put on my "Drop Everything And Read" list; I am gagging for something new by Tom Rachman and can't wait to see what Charles Yu does next.

2011 is looking a little quieter but there are still a few books I can't wait to get my hands on. Here's the top 5 as I see them at the moment:

1. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. Whether you love him or think he was a pompous, literary masturbator, you cannot deny that DFW's untimely death was a great loss to American literature. His hefty masterwork, Infinite Jest, kept me company throughout the year I was writing my Honours thesis and so I feel forever in his debt and remain ever eager to pick up his latest offering. From what I gather, Pale King looks like another hyperactive skewering of our modern existence, though hopefully it will be sans tennis. Some have been complaining that publishing this unfinished work amounts to exploitation, cashing in on his death with something he never had the chance to properly polish. But who cares if he was only part way through The Pale King when he killed himself? Infinite Jest finished mid-sentence, unresolved, at the end of over a thousand pages and it was still a corker!

2. Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer. The draw here isn't that it's a new book by JSF but, rather, that it is a re-imagining of and meditation on the work of one my all-time favourite writers, Bruno Schulz. I look forward to seeing what Safran Foer does with the source material but from what I hear it is a mind-bending experiment that actually works. Plus, it is apparently a beautifully packaged volume to boot and I'm a sucker for anything that looks spectacular on my shelf.

3. AnimalInside by Laszlo Krasznahorkai. No book has infuriated me more with its impenetrability than Krasznohorkai's best known novel, The Melancholy of Resistance. It took five false starts before I hit my stride and got through it. However, I like a good literary arm-wrestle and so was quite excited to hear another of his books is being translated and will be released in April. I have no idea what to expect from it, but I know it certainly won't be boring.

4. Never Any End To Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas. Regular readers of B4BW are probably well-aware by now that Vila-Matas's madcap literary treasure hunt, Montano's Malady, was one of my favourite books of the past few years. I think Vila-Matas is the most exciting writer around these days and can't wait to have him bend my mind again with another dose of his absurd jigsaw plotting.

5. Something new from Michael Chabon. No revelations here I'm afraid. But he's been teasing us for a couple of years now, so I'm going to state here that I want 2011 to be the year of the new Chabon. Is that too much to ask?


matthue said...

Re: New Chabon: You've seen this bit for the new McSweeney's, right?

Michael Chabon. Lost novel. 'Nuff said.

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