For the first time in my life I kept a list of every book I completed this year. I’m not sure why I did it. I was finishing grad school. I probably wanted something to show for it. And, sure, I had phantom visions of putting together a list such as the one that follows.
These are the books I completed. I’ve left off all the false starts and abandonments and in-progresses. Some of these books deserve more than a few sentences, and while I’ve written about a few of them elsewhere, I’ll leave the true criticism to more focused attempts. This is an overview, written with the hopes of sharing my year in reading, and of sharing a few names, and of sharing some thoughts on a few names that require no sharing.
*Read about the first 10 books Colin read in 2012 here.
11. The Adventures of the Ingenious Alfanhui by Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio
Someone beats someone into a pile of rags and sticks. This book is compelling as a memory. Bits and pieces and here and there. Things I’ve never seen before and never thought about. Maybe it’s about a wizard? They squeeze color out of creatures. Try writing something after reading this. Try telling someone else about what you’ve read.
12. Contempt by Alberto Moravia
Books about infidelity are so difficult for me. I don’t know what it is. I haven’t been through it in a major way. Not that I know of. Something about the paranoia, and the self-fulfilling nature of the prophecy, it brutalizes me. I am a paranoid person. I am a jealous person, in a self-defeating kind of way. This book is about an asshole. It’s feverish. I think I cried while reading it. I don’t remember, but it’s the kind of thing I cry over.
13. Widow by Michelle Latiolais
I met the love of my life this year. She recommended this book. We recommended a lot of books to one another, especially in those first few months. I picked up a stack from the library, set it on my bedside table. They were mainly about widows. They were all sad. The love of my life had another love of her life in her life. Maybe more than one. I think, if you loved someone, a lot of the time you keep on loving them and that’s just that. They get their own kind of private love forever. And when that person dies, they’re not around to yank it back, remind you of who they are and how they’re changing. All of the people I have loved in my life are still out there somewhere. I like the things they post online, consider inviting them to my wedding. I think a lot about how I might ask them, what words I’ll say, how I’ll try to look.
14. Fjords Vol. 1 by Zachary Schomburg
Excerpts from this book are published as a chapbook put out by Spork Press. I have both books. People are going to talk about Zach Schomburg for years to come. He’s one of the few writers who I can honestly say that, you, you should go buy this book and read it. You won’t regret it. Or, if you do, it will be because you saw something there that you maybe weren’t ready to see.
15. The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
The childhood class. You know what I learned from this book? Eeyore? Is an asshole. I loved him growing up. I get that melancholy. But he’s a jerk in the book. He’s much bolder than I remembered, too. A friend of mine, Dan Ivec, said, after reading this book: “A lot of people think they’re like Eeyore. But, really, they’re more like Piglet.”
16. The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I am going to read this book to my kids and ask them to tell it back to me. That will be just as interesting as reading it, I think. Maybe more so. That’s not a put-down. Whatever, fuck Lewis Carroll. There, I said it.
17. An Operatta in Profile by Czeika
This is an out-of-print book available online as an ebook. No one really knows who Czeika is. This book is amazing. A small group of people in a small town decide to put on an opera. I haven’t read writing like this before.
18. Autoportrait by Edouard Levé
Probably one my favorite books of last year. I read it in New York, at my friend’s apartment, while my friends were waiting for me at a bar down the street. I wanted to see them very badly, but I stayed and read the book through. I wrote a review of it and it will be up at The Collagist in January. I don’t like writing reviews but this book needs to be talked about.
19. The Notebook by Agota Kristof
Two twins telling us their story. I want to steal everything in this book. I’ve already started. It’s so clean and cruel and touching and perfect.
I’m getting kind of drunk now and all I want to do is go sit down and reread this book again for the first time. Reading this book for the first time led me to write one of the few things I value the most in this world. It’s a strange and familiar place this book. Mud Luscious Press doesn’t really disappoint. Things are happening there. This is one of them.