With my addiction to Sudoku now bordering on the pathological (and enabled from afar, with my sincerest gratitude, by my wonderful in-laws – grandma, mom, and sister), and my capacity for what Deanna terms “rubbish TV” (most notably the UFC) as high as ever, I have still managed to turn a page or two in the last year. And so, to complement Deanna’s list, on all of which I heartily concur, I offer some of my own must-reads:
Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje
For my money, there is no greater living writer. This novel, not unlike every other book he has written, features prose as lyrical as it is compelling, with unforgettable characters and a story that I continue to think of months after finishing it.
What I Loved, Siri Hustvedt
The cheat on my list, as I originally read this a few years ago, then was delighted to find it here in Seoul. A novel with so many richly considered themes is truly hard to characterize. Both Deanna and I were allured by Hustvedt's descriptions of an art world she created for the story, and then more broadly by the implications of that world on the creative process itself.
The Friar and the Cipher, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
Those who know me know that I am as much a sucker for nonfiction about obscure thirteenth century astrological/ religious tracts written in an indecipherable code by a presumed madman as the next guy. And the ending is a ripper - for budding cryptographers, I offer the short version: Kiluvhhli Lofn, rm gsv hgfwb, drgs gsv ilkv.
Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
In 1987 this was a comic book, and the language I had to describe it was as enlightened as "cool" and "awesome". Twenty years on, this is a graphic novel, and with a few university English classes on which to draw, I have upgraded my assessment to "beyond cool" and "unbelievably awesome".