2011–It’s a Wrap

It’s never easy to whittle a year of some truly great books down to just a few personal preferences, but here goes my completely arbitrary categories anyway (in no particular order):

Novels that continue to haunt me: Little Monsters by Charles Lambert and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Perhaps the best Simenon I’ve read to date: Dirty Snow

Best of the seven Jim Thompson novels read for my noirfest: Pop 1280. The Killer Inside Me came a very close second, but the nasty sense of humour in Pop 1280 ultimately won the day.

Speaking of nasty sense of humour, the award has to go to Henry Sutton’s FABULOUS Get Me Out of Here and The Pets by Bragi Olafsson

For crime, it doesn’t get better than Drive by James Sallis.

Best classic noir: Build My Gallows High by Geoffrey Homes and Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams (both made into films, btw).

Best 20th C American: The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone by Tennessee Williams

Best Classics, French: Gobseck  by Balzac. Russian: The Duel by Chekhov and The Eternal Husband by Dostoevsky. British: The Trumpet Major by Thomas Hardy.

Best new American release: Calling Mr King by Ronald de Feo

Best new British Fiction: The Old Romantic by Louise Dean, King of the Badgers by Philip Hensher–both of these were the second books I’d read by these authors and the reading enjoyment firmly sealed me as a fan of both.

Best non-fiction: The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal

So thanks to all my readers and all those who left comments, and also thanks to the authors who sweated blood and tears over the novels that enriched my life beyond measure in 2011.  With a good book, life is never boring.

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Filed under Balzac, Blogging, Chekhov, De Feo Ronald, Dean Louise, Dostoevsky, du Maurier Daphne, Fiction, Hardy, Thomas, Hensher Philip, Homes Geoffrey, Lambert Charles, Olafsson Bragi, Sallis James, Simenon, Sutton Henry, Thompson Jim, Williams Charles, Williams Tennessee

30 responses to “2011–It’s a Wrap

  1. Great list, Guy! I was nodding in agreement with many of the titles. Du Maurier’s book was one that I listened to as an audiobook, instead of text. It was very chilling!
    I’m glad you enjoyed the Chekhov…I’m on such a Chekhov kick right now…
    Since you mentioned Bragi Olaffson, have you read The Ambassador? It’s seriously amazing…funny and deep. Many allusions to Gogol’s overcoat.

    Thanks for the list, and you’re so right…life is never dull with books!

  2. Thanks to you for all the marvelous reviews and recommendations. I now have a new list. I agree with you on the several from your list that I have read. My favorite, is, of course, ‘Calling Mr King’.

    Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

  3. Interesting list and I’m glad I’ve already got four on my pile. Some of the others I’ve read a while ago. I’m not sure which one I’ll read first, Get me Out of Here or The Pets.

    I wish you a great and happy 2012.

  4. I haven’t heard of many of these, but I am planning a reread of ‘The Trumpet Major’, so we have at least one book in common ;)

  5. Thomas Hardy is one of my all-time favourite authors, Tony.

  6. More than a few of these are waiting for me — thanks for all your thoughts which turn into recommendations. And I haven’t even mentioned the DVD p0inters :-) .

  7. Thanks for all the reviews and you made me discover new books and writers this year.
    I have some of your best books on the TBR (especially Get Me Out of Here).
    I’ll get to the Hardy when it comes in my Reading Hardy project.

    It’s going to be fun in 2012 too. And yes you’re right, books are a safe shelter to make a pause from life’s roller-coaster.

  8. Happy New Year too, Guy Savage. Welcome to 2012, the end of the world. This gives me the idea of coming up with my own 2011 best reads list. :)

  9. Glad to share admiration for Charles Lambert with you. A happy new year to you, in reading and otherwise.

  10. Ha ha, love your categories Guy …. next year of course there’ll be a Best Aussie one won’t there (Just joking!). There’s a lot of interest here but the one that sticks out for me is Hensher. I have his Mulberry Empire (that is his, right?) on my TBR but haven’t got to it. I think he’s a writer I need to find time to read.

  11. candy cane young

    I LOVE end of the year book lists–especially from persons who pick good stuff!!!

  12. leroyhunter

    Dirty Snow would be one of my best as well Guy, strong stuff. The Widow is up next for me.

    I really enjoyed the Thompson-fest, and I still want to read The Grifters. I agree it’s a toss up of those I read between Killer Inside Me and Pop 1280.

    Reading the list reminds me how futile trying to control the incoming flood of books is: The Pets, Get Me Out of Here, The Man in the Rockefeller Suit and Roman Spring of Mrs Stone are all on the wishlist. I have The Killer is Dying on the shelf and no doubt Drive will follow.

    Always interesting to see what you’ve found out there, I’m looking forward to more in 2012.

    • Leroy:The sequel, Driven is out in 3/12.

      I started the new year with a “buy less books” mantra and promptly broke that 1/1. I’ve recently discovered a couple of long dead mostly forgotten authors and I have to read them. It’s no use.

      And thanks too for your support. I always enjoy your comments.

  13. I have that Charles Lambert on my radar. It’s time to fit it all in that’s the killer. I’ve bought Dirty Snow now, largely on your recommendation in fact, so that’s one I’m looking forward to.

    Thank you again for The Pets, which I loved. In fact I’d meant to include it in my list, but then promptly forgot. Drive of course did make my list, and again it was you that introduced me to Sallis.

    I love the categories. There’s a couple here I don’t recall reading at the time (the de Feo has slipped my memory if I caught that review) which I’ll need to go and check out. You have had a good year looking at this, real range which I think helps to keep things fresh.

    Hopefully that whole 2012 end of the world thing will prove to be the utter nonsense I think it is. Just in case not though I should try and tempt you to Proust while time remains…

    • I haven’t heard about the end of the earth thing, so it’s news to me.

      I didn’t start out with definite categories in mind, but it happened when I wanted to pick a non-fiction. There were a couple of titles vying for the top role, and then the other categories developed from there.

      Proust is on my radar, but I’m probably going to delay him until the Balzac project is over. But who knows? So far 2012 is starting out strongly.

      • It’s absolute nonsense, though there’s been at least one major Hollywood movie so far. Some belief that the Mayans somehow predicted the end of the world for 2012, which as far as I know they didn’t and even if they had I wouldn’t care much.

        Will the Balzac project end? I thought he’d written over 80 titles.

        • At the end of 2010 (I think) someone actually paid to rent one of those huge billboard signs near a freeway entrance (where I drive to work), and it was one of those end-of-life announcements which even gave the date: BEWARE THE END OF THE EARTH (date) (biblical quotation)

          The sign came down quietly after it DIDN’T happen. I always wonder about these people. Do they stay up all night waiting for the END? Or are they disappointed the next morning when they hear the birds singing? What a bunch of necrophiliacs.

          I’m not sure how long Balzac will take. My guess is that something will lure me into Proust. A film or something.

  14. Guy, a superb blog (that I must visit much more often) and an intriguing end-of-year list that I’ll doubtless grab a few of. Cheers.

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