I used to do this best of the year thing and then Matt died and nothing felt best. I suppose it’s a good sign that I feel a little like doing a sort of a best of the year thingybob. My main problem is that I can barely remember what happened this morning let alone twelve months ago, so it’s more a snapshot of things I think are rather splendid on the 30th December 2009.
Arms of the year award.
Novel of the year
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout was my most enjoyable read of the year. I loved the writing, the stories and the character of Olive. Such a beautiful book.
However my novel of the year is Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs. It was an exciting event to have a new Moore book to read, and she did not disappoint with her hugely ambitious novel.
My WBQ review:
Tassie Keltjin leaves her rural home to study in liberal, artsy Troy. She takes a job as a part-time nanny for a white couple and their adopted ‘biracial’ daughter, then she falls in love and becomes increasingly distant from her own family.
Fans of Lorrie Moore should rest assured that this long-awaited novel is chock-full of her customary word play, the sugar with which she coats her biting social commentary. Her appraisal of post-9/11 America is engaging, witty and quietly devastating; this story follows characters who are distorted, as though in a house of mirrors, by the trials of life and time.
Short Story Collection of the year
My runner up is A.L Kennedy’s What Becomes which is an impeccable collection from one of the most talented writers around. These are stories that ache and resonate as Kennedy’s stylistic scalpel reveals the pain and truth inside each of her characters. Highly recommended. But not my winner.
You all can guess my winner right?
Janice Galloway’s Collected Stories brings together stories from “Blood” and “Where You Find It” and is a masterclass on writing. In my opinion there is no finer writer around. All this judgement, all these “best of’s” are nonsensical, it’s all subjective. And yet, for me, Galloway picks the perfect words each time. Bloody marvellous!
Album of the year
What a record! Empire State of Mind and Run This Town are both so, so, so fabulous.
Lesson of the year
You know that sometimes people say that writing is all about who you know. Cliques and in peeps, blah bah blah. I have observed some of that myself actually, occasionally. But sometimes you can write something and it will be good, and that’s all that is needed. Funny that, eh? All you actually need do is write good words!
So – here’s to good words.