Monday, December 17, 2007

What I Read in 2007

This year I read a bit. I didn't read as much as I have in other years but I read a bit and kept a list. I've kept a list of what I read each year each year since I started reading with a constant mind of what I read. This is my list for 2007, held in order. In a way you could say what I read was itself my year.

There's not a lot I didn't like a bit at least on this list because usually I stop reading if I don't like something. This year I read several things a second time.

I have a listing problem.

MY 2007 READING LIST

1. WITTGENSTEIN'S MISTRESS by David Markson (2nd time) - I love this book and the way it folds facts with mental unnarrative. I often try to write like it but have yet to succeed except in rambling.

2. THE UNBINDING by Walter Kirn - a paperback version of the book he wrote online for Slate and that you can read still online right here.

3. AMERICAN GENIUS: A Novel by Lynne Tillman - one of my favorite books this year. perhaps an antecedent to the style of Wittgenstein's Mistress but in a fresh and new way, which is impressive in itself. This narrator rambles and speaks of facts she's memorized, about Charles Manson and skin disease and all other sorts. Encyclopedic. If there's any book that didn't get the recognition it deserved this year, this is the one. Go find it.

4. SKID by Dean Young - Dean Young is an excellent poet and this is a good book I read mostly while shitting or exercising on a stationary bike.

5. CONCEPTUAL ANIMALS by Chris Green - chapbook by a poet friend from Bennington who will one day be known as monstrous.

6. NECK DEEP & Other Predicaments by Ander Monson - nonfiction excellent from the author of one of my favorite books from last year, OTHER ELECTRICITIES. Excellent thoughts about bathing and dentistry and hacking and so on.

7. NADJA by Andre Breton - this book is not as innovative as it is known to be. It is not so surrealist as to make me shudder well.

8. THE RINGS OF SATURN by W.G. Sebald - excellent and also in a way like Lynne Tillman's book, folding fact into rambling narrative. Incredible description.

9. LUNAR FOLLIES by Gilbert Sorrentino
10. A STRANGE COMMONPLACE by Gilbert Sorrentino - I read two Sorrentinos back to back also while often shitting or exercising. He has some incredible sentences but I would not necessarily need to read this again.

10. EMBRYOYO by Dean Young - Kind of hit or miss for Young but still interesting and better than average. When I bought this book at Borders, the checkout guy said, "Your receipt is in Embryoyo."

11. TRAVELS IN THE SCRIPTORIUM by Paul Auster - blehhhhhhh.

12. THE REVISIONIST by Miranda Mellis my review

13. I HATE TO SEE THAT EVENING SUN GO DOWN by William Gay - William Gay is the only rightful heir to the legacy of Cormac McCarthy. nuff said.

14. EEEEE EEE EEEE by Tao Lin
15. BED by Tao Lin - My favorite debut of the year and endlessly entertaining. I often pick either of these up to either laugh or see a good sentence. Tao Lin is beyond. my review

16. MAGIC FOR BEGINNERS by Kelly Link - One of my favorite story collections ever. The story STONE ANIMALS is in my top 5 stories of all time. This affected my understanding of how I try to write.

17. THE TASK OF THIS TRANSLATOR by Todd Hasak-Lowy - recommended by Tao and very good, kind of reminds me of DFW but less epic. Funny.

18. LENNY BRUCE IS DEAD by Jonathan Goldstein - An entertaining and weird book. Reminded me of WHY DID I EVER by Mary Robison. I like books that have short funny sections and weird employs.

19. GHOST TOWN by Robert Coover - I don't remember this very well right now but I think I liked it. I bought it because the back said it was like Cormac McCarthy on acid and it kind of was.

20. THE REVISIONIST by Miranda Mellis (2nd time) - I think I read this book 4 times in total so far but I only noted it twice.

21. GIRAFFES by Steven Gillis - my review

22. THE QUICK AND THE DEAD by Joy Williams - This book was also recommended by Tao. Incredible sentences and very funny without boundary. I can see how this influenced him in a good way.

23. THE LAST NOVEL by David Markson - Not my favorite Markson list book but still enough of the same nature that I enjoyed it, though it would be my last recommended of his list books.

24. NO ONE BELONGS HERE MORE THAN YOU by Miranda July - I read this one day when I was very depressed at a coffee shop for 5 hours without moving or buying a drink. I watched a kid's head a lot between sentences. The story about the front porch killed me. This is a good collection.

25. IN WATERMELON SUGAR by Richard Brautigan (2nd time) - I read this a few years ago after I saw DFW was teaching it at his fiction class at Pomona. There is no other book like this that has ever existed. It is short and easy to read and very weird and very good.

26. BEFORE YOU SHE WAS A PITBULL by Elizabeth Ellen - I read this in a waiting room at a doc in the box trying to get sleep medicine. I wanted more when it was over. It reminded me somewhat of the movie GUMMO, which is one of my favorite movies. I did an interview with EE that will be out in January. You should buy this.

27. PARTIAL LIST OF PEOPLE TO BLEACH by Gary Lutz - I read this mostly while waiting for my oil to get changed. Gary Lutz is medicine. This worked differently on me than his other two books. Usually after I read one of his stories I don't know what I read but I feel different.

28. ZEROVILLE by Steve Erickson - my review

29. PART OF THE WORLD by Robert Lopez - my review

30. BATS OUT OF HELL by Barrah Hannah - He is the master and this is one of the major reasons. It has a story called UPSTAIRS MONA BAYED FOR DONG. Yes?

31. DOUBLE WIDE by Michael Martone - This book made me understand why Martone is so respected. A cross section of the best parts of all his books. He does things with stories I've never seen done.

32. DON'T WAKE UP IT'S JUST ME by Mike Young - Mike is an incredible wordsmith. One day he will have many books. This is the first, chap-style, and it is the beginning.

33. IN A BEAR'S EYE by Yannick Murphy - my review of this is forthcoming in the Believer, but let's just say it's very excellent.

34. RUBICON BEACH by Steve Erickson - Another in the line of Erickson's several underrated and incredible books. See my ZEROVILLE review for more.

35. ALL OVER by Roy Kesey - my review of this is forthcoming in Rain Taxi, but let's just say it's also very excellent. Hail DZANC.

36. OTHER ELECTRICITIES by Ander Monson (2nd time) - I read this again when thinking about how to structure the order of the stories in my own novel in stories collection. I think this is a masterpiece of its kind.

37. BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy (2nd time) - If you read this book once, eventually you have to read it again because it's impossible to get it all the first time. One of the richest books ever composed, and the most violent, and the most beautiful.

38. THE FAMISHED ROAD by Ben Okri - I'm so glad Derek White mentioned this on his blog, because it's probably in my top 10 books now. An absolute masterpiece of magic realism (though he hates that term, they all do don't they?). Well, anyway, it's magical.

39. THE HOUR SETS by Michael Boyko - my review of this will be forthcoming at Word Riot but let's just say it's unlike anything else I've ever read in a way unlike anything else I've seen be different.

40. NO REAL LIGHT by Joe Wenderoth - More weird angular poems by the badass who brought LETTERS TO WENDY'S, which if you haven't read, you should, and then you'll want to read this too.

41. ANGLE OF YAW by Ben Lerner - I think this is now my favorite book of poems ever. To be mentioned in the same breath as Ben Marcus. I will probably read this many many times throughout my life.

42. OUR ECSTATIC DAYS by Steve Erickson - Another bizarre and sprawling surrealist book about a lake growing out of a city. The passage about floating through the rooms of a hotel near the center of this book is one of my favorite things I read this year.

43. SAMEDI THE DEAFNESS by Jesse Ball - I bought this immediately because of the Lynch mention on the back, and I read it straight through without stopping. Weird and funny and addictive.

44. POVEL by Geraldine Kim - I read this mostly while exercising or in bed. I think I could have kept reading this forever. Like reading someone's mind, someone who's funny in a way most people aren't.

45. MEYER by Stephen Dixon - Such a strange, somehow depressing book from one of the masters in his later years. I'm doing a mail interview with him in a few weeks, and it makes me excited. He changed the way I think about storytelling.

46. RYAN SEACREST IS FAMOUS by Dave Housley - With a title like that, you know this book is hilarious. Excellent writing to back the humor. One of my favorite short-shorts, NOTE TO THE GUY WHO STOLE MY IDENTITY, is in this awesome debut colleciton. My review of this will be on Bookslut soon.

47. HIDING OUT by Jonathan Messinger - Weird and funny angular little stories that start in familiar places and move further and further out. Something very appealing about the way he strings situations together. I like this book a lot.

48. THE HORNED MAN by James Lasdun - Strange thriller that I read on Ross Simonini's recommendation to fill the need I felt after reading Jesse Ball's book. Another read-it-straight-through.

49. WIDE EYED by Trinie Dalton - She also went to Bennington, where I went. These stories are bizarre and magical, sort of like Kelly Link but more conversational. Her story in Ninth Letter was the shit.

50. SUPER FLAT TIMES by Matthew Derby (2nd time) - I reread this book after several years when someone said one of the stories in my collection reminded him of it. I think I unconsciously used this as a model when constructing certain elements about my own book, which makes me glad, because this book is insane and grand.

51. SOME SEXUAL SUCCESS STORIES Plus Other Stories in Which God Might Choose To Appear by Diane Williams - The stories in this book move like they haven't slept in weeks, and as such understand things the way other people don't. Lish-ish and often creepy and/or unnerving and I haven't been able to get her voice out of my head since. Excellent.

52. A DAY, A NIGHT, ANOTHER DAY, SUMMER by Christine Schutt - The last story in this collection, THE BLOOD JET, is one of the most emotionally brutal stories of all time. I heard her read this while I was at Bennington and I still remember every word.

8 comments:

Ken Baumann said...

Thank you for this list. I think I will read at least five books that you seemed to like.

I really like your blog, by the way.

SarahJane said...

I asked for "Magic for Beginners" for Christmas after reading the story you mention "Stone Animals," which was amazing.
taking notes...
sarah

BLAKE BUTLER said...

thanks ken. tell me what you read and if you like.

i like on carrion.

sarah: i hope you get your xmas wish.

Tao Lin said...

i enjoy posts like this

giant post with many things and some things

i feel stupid now, my powers of description are

i feel stupid

chris said...

You've inspired me to keep track of what I read in 2008. For some reason, it never dawned on me to do so, and I have very few braincells left, which severely strains my ability to remember things.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

i am glad people got something out of that. maybe in the future i will post my lists from 2001-2006.

Colin said...

thanks for this post. i plan on reading a few of these i didn't know about before. i think your lists from other years would be good as well. thanks.

Mike Young said...

thanks for mentioning my chap, blake!

$$$$$