It's that time of year again! I round up my reading list on my masto account as well, but I still enjoy looking back at what I enjoyed or didn't, and reflecting on broader trends in what I'm reading.

  1. Alasdair Gray - 1982, Janine
  2. Chris Kraus - Torpor
  3. Alessandro Delfanti - The Warehouse
  4. Thomas Pynchon - Bleeding Edge
  5. Akiyuki Nozaka - The Pornographers
  6. Jeanne Thornton - Summer Fun
  7. JO Morgan - Pupa
  8. Jeanne Thornton - The Dream of Doctor Bantam
  9. Elfriede Jelinek - REIN GOLD
  10. Olga Ravn - The Employees
  11. Chris Kraus - Aliens and Anorexia (reread)
  12. Edmondo de Amicis - Love and Gymnastics
  13. Lucy Lippard - I See / You Mean
  14. Merlin Sheldrake - Entangled Life
  15. Jenny Hval - Paradise Rot (reread)
  16. Steven Angelides - A History of Bisexuality
  17. Vladimir Nabokov - Despair (reread)
  18. Thomas Pynchon - Inherent Vice
  19. Nathalie Sarraute - Tropisms
  20. Ann Quin - Three
  21. Ulrich Haarburste - Ulrich Haarburste's Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm
  22. Bram Stoker - Dracula
  23. Thomas Pynchon - Against the Day

Year Trends

The Good: Getting into Pynchon was huge for me this year, dazzling and humbling, amazing in ways I totally wasn't expecting. (His mainstream literary reputation is, basically, wrong. He is That Good but not in the way people tend to talk about him. Don't be scared! It's funny and sexy and very easy to read on a prose level, actually!) Bleeding Edge was one of the novels this year that went straight to my top ten of all time (alongside Torpor and 1982, Janine), I wasn't AS impressed by Inherent Vice though the prose style was still hard to argue with, and Against the Day was just a total Experience; it's probably the most you can fit into a novel and have it still be coherent, period. I remember last New Year's Eve I was finishing up Tom McCarthy's The Making of Incarnation, which I enjoyed, but was the sort of novel that felt attainable, you know? The type of work that you feel you could make something on the level of. This year, I was blazing through the last 100 pages of Against the Day and experienced the sort of opposite effect, it was an expansive work, a daunting work, a work that reinforces that I will always have a long way to go.

Getting familiar with Jeanne Thornton's work was great, and gave me a good comp for my own writing, I think. Both Nathalie Saurraute's Tropisms and Ann Quin's Three are a bit more stylistically experimental than I usually go for on my own, and were handed to me by my partner, but how they handled particular emotional states in such a surprising and vivid way really stuck with me. Lucy Lippard's lost 70s multi-pov novel is surprisingly contemporary, and pretty easily outclasses similar recent ultra-hyped novels with similar conceits, which was a fun surprise. While I read less nonfiction this year, I really enjoyed how both The Warehouse and Entangled Life well... ENTANGLED the factual core of their research with the emotional and cultural baggage the subjects (alienated, automation-heavy workplaces or... mushrooms!) carry with them. A History of Bisexuality was also a great book for any polymorphous pervert who feels like most of the "discourse" about terms, orientation and so on, are just totally missing any sort of truly critical point. Super refreshing.

The Bad: Pupa was by far the main disappointment among this list... How do you make bug people so drab and joyless? Well, failing any other ideas the typical form of the Quaint English Small Town Novel will basically kill any speculative concept VERY VERY dead for you. I really want to read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham because the concept appeals to me there as well, but the similarity in voice and sensibility really has me putting it off. Blech! The Employees was also kind of a letdown in the sense that the whole sci-fi workplace setting, which, again, I am really conceptually interested in for reasons, is just kind of muted and unaddressed. You don't really get a sense of what it's like to work and live there, the interpersonal drama, the office politicking and so on, besides the light touch implication that it kind of happens, alongside kind of tiresome passages of ~imagery~ and all the various perspective characters' monologues so weighted with poetic ~meaning~ that operates in kind of an undifferentiated and predictable way. NOT WEIRD ENOUGH! on both of these. REIN GOLD was also, basically, fine for what it is but not really my type of thing, or at least not at this length, lol.

The Forthcoming: WHAT on earth do you read after Against the Day? I feel kind of stumped. I read a lot of novels this year, because I wrote and was revising/shopping around my own novel. I revisited work that I was comping to (Paradise Rot and Aliens & Anorexia) and tried to read other work that was suggested by friends or pitched as similar to this and my forthcoming projects. There was also stuff like being exposed to Pynchon and Alasdair Gray that made me feel like I am playing baby blocks level of prose writing right now and need to become more and more ambitious! I will probably start in on some nonfiction since that's stacking up for me, and I'm not really sure, going into another round of revisions on one project and trying to get to a full first draft of a second, if challenging or relevant-but-attainable fiction is a better choice to read at this juncture.

Well, that's all for now! Happy new year!