Tuesday, 4 January 2011

2010 was not really a year of reading (nor writing for that matter), but one book made up for a lack of others. This was the year of Infinite Jest. David Foster Wallace's magnus opus turned my world upside down, having a singular effect on me that few books in my adult life have. The impact of Pynchon was similar but different, cerebral rather than emotional. Hell, I think I spent the year mourning.

Of course I was then compelled to read the brilliant A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, the enlightening Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, Stephen Burn's Infinite Jest Reader's Guide and even Hamlet (again).

Of the rest, few are books from 2010. Alexander von Humboldt's Jaguars and Electric Eels is one of the most evocative and agreeable travelogues I've ever encountered. A Field Guide To Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit kept me thinking for weeks.

The Dead Yard by Ian Thomson opened up a new understanding for me about history, politics and culture in Jamaica, Suketu Mehta's Maximum City in Bombay. East Coast Europe edited by Markus Miessen was a fine book on identity. A remarkable volume, The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee shed new light on radical politics in France and beyond. The Portraits Polychromes book on Pierre Schaeffer was great and reminded me to read more books on music.

McLuhan's Understanding Media was reread and redigested within the context of radio while George Friedman's The Next 100 Years stimulated many interesting debates and has made me pay attention to this year's geopolitical situations in Poland, Turkey and The Caucasus with a critical eye.

Also read were the lyrical, ambitious The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee by Matthew Stadler, Nicholson Baker's obsessionist, synapse-stalling Mezzanine, Cormac McCarthy's divertingly apocalyptic The Road and T.C. Boyle's eminently readable Drop City. There were more, I'm sure.

The year ended with me tearing through Tom McCarthy's C, an opinion onwhich has not yet had time to settle (are the narrative arcs just all a little too reverse-engineered?), but it is commendable for the subject matter and depth of research alone.

Sitting on the shelf waiting for 2011 to age are Édouard Levé's Suicide, Gabriel Josipovici's Only Joking and Thomas Bernhard's My Prizes. Oh, and Georg Buechner's Dantons Tod, in German, which may be beyond the scope of my reading in 2051, let alone this year.

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