A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Mara
I want this book and this young author to win all the prizes. This book, set in Chechnya during the war is so, so, sad. It’s a tapestry of suffering and heartbreak but whimsy is threaded into that tapestry as well. It’s powerful, but delicate too. It feels immediate and urgent, but also ephemeral and dreamy. Really great stuff.
Where Did You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
This book was pure fun. I was charmed by the precocious narrator, the sarcastic and difficult (but ultimately lovable) titular Bernadette.
This is a witty gem of a book. It’s funny and heartwarming, a little sad, and very smart.
Take it on all your vacations in 2014. It’s a complete delight.
Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran
It’s so exciting to have a new detective series develop. Especially one that is as clever and slippery and genre-bending as this one.
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
I think I’ve talked about this book enough here. But I really did love it. It’s seductive and powerful. Something about the way Kushner described what it’s like to be young and passionate and dazzled (by New York, by a man, by art and artists, by politics, by activism, by life) really struck a chord with me. Anyway, I loved it and I can’t wait to re-read it in 2014.
Tampa by Alissa Nutting
This book was nuts. I read it in one sitting because I could not bear to sleep more than one night on it for fear of the weirdo dreams it would give me.
Nutting totally commits in this book. To her premise. To her heroine. To her writing. To her description of teenage boys burgeoning sexuality. The tension just keeps ratcheting up in every scene to the point where I really wanted to look away, but couldn’t.
It’s like watching the pamchenko! It’s way too dangerous, but Nutting was in the mood to kick a little ass, and she stuck the landing. (yes, I just made a Cutting Edge reference). Anyway, this is a tough book to recommend to other people (It’s hard to say, I just loved this novel about a creepy sociopath pedophile) but I want more people to read it because it really was excellent and I need more people to talk to about it.