Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Complaining About Sex with Twins, and My Top 15

by Marcus Sakey

It was my great honor (and no small pleasure) to be invited to attend Noir in Festival in Courmayeur, Italy this last weekend. A prestigious film-and-lit noir festival that's been running for 20-plus years, NiF is located at the foot of Mt. Blanc in the Italian Alps. Featuring some of the best of European film, as well as authors like Richard Price, Don Winslow, and Victor Gischler, it was without a doubt one of the best gigs I've had as a writer.

The only downside, and it ain't much of one, is that I traveled for 26 straight hours yesterday. A car ride from Courmayeur to Milan, Milan to Atlanta, a three hour layover, a two-hour tarmac delay, Atlanta to Chicago, lousy weather, a two-hour holding pattern, a landing in Cincinnati to refuel, back to Chicago, and a thirty minute wait for them to defrost the jetway.

As the headline suggests, griping about that would be just silly. However, the net result is that I'm a little zonked and jetlagged. So rather than a formal post, I thought I'd help with your holiday shopping. I've gone over the list of books I've read thus far this year (76 to date, not counting the magazines and anthologies that held the 400+ short stories I read for the Edgars), and picking my faves. In no particular order, here are the top 15; if you're looking for more, I review on my website.
Reign in Hell, Steven Brust
Wildly entertaining and super-sharp retelling of The Fall from a different perspective.

Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson
A study of America at war with writing so good it made me ache.

Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
A genuinely creepy thriller, not only for what happens, but for the way it's told.

What the Dead Know, Laura Lippman
Which should have won last year's Edgar.

My War, Colby Buzzell
My second read of my favorite Iraq II memoir, an obscene, in-your-face, boots-on-the-ground read that's all the more excellent for its lack of glamour.

Once Were Cops, Ken Bruen
A one-sitting read from a master. Bruen is at his best here.

The Human Stain, Philip Roth
It's Roth. How much more do I need to say?

Northline, Willy Vlautin
A beautifully understated novel of addiction and recovery, harm and hope.

The Paperboy, Pete Dexter
Dexter is an American treasure. If you've never read him, start now.

Feast of Love, Charlie Baxter
A lovely and entertaining rumination on love and sex and more love.

The Given Day, Dennis Lehane
Historical epic of 1917-18 Boston, rich with life. Possibly Lehane's best.

Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan
Richard Morgan is this year's discovery, the most exciting sci-fi writer I've read in a long time.

The Wishbones, Tom Perrotta
Manifesting itself as a lighthearted comedy about a struggling band, the novel's great strength is in it's protrayal of the joys and difficulties of romantic relationshops.

Straight Man, Richard Russo
A send-up of academia, this is the funniest Russo I've read.

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
Didn't just hold up on a third read--it got better. R in more P than you felt in life, brother.
How about you? What are your faves of the year?

24 comments:

FIONA said...

SCREAM FOR ME by Karen Rose, it will be out in paperback in January.

ZOE'S TALE by John Scalzi. Fun SF and a good gift for the YA reader in you life.

THE PRICE by Alex Sokolov. Horror for the non-horror reader. Just out in paperback.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman. Great for the middle-grad reader in you life.

FIONA said...

Oh and the Bobby Faye books by Toni McGee Causey. I've rarely had that much fun reading a mystery.

David said...

Joe Konrath's -- sorry -- Jack Kilborn's Afraid. Just got it from England. Read it in two days, only because I had to work in there somewhere.

What the Dead Know

Severance Package

The Price is up next on the pile.

Bill Cameron said...

Now, technically, if you were having sex with twins, it would be incest for them. Unless, I suppose, one of them went off and watched television while the first had her turn, and then they switched. But if that were true, you'd miss out on that naughty frisson you'd be looking for in the first place.

Martel said...

Generation Dead by Dan Waters

Trigger City by Sean Chercover

The Reach by Nate Kenyon

Anonymous said...

The most outstanding books of the year (IMHO) and my favs:


1) THE STEEL REMAINS by Richard Morgan;

2) RICHARD MORGAN: re-reading all his other books and liking them even more;

3) BANGKOK 8 series by John Burdette;

4) MATTER by Iain Banks.

Mark Combes said...

Breath, Tim Winton
Winton should have a broader following, so I'm doing my part here.

Empty Ever After, Reed Farrel Coleman
Coleman isn't afraid to put Moe into wrenching situations - we all should be so brave.

Bethany K. Warner said...

Windy City, by Scott Simon (yes, the NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host.) A great yarn about murder and political corruption in the city most famous for it.

Pinkerton's Secret by Eric Lerner. Historical fiction about America's first detective and his stunning secret.

The Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke. Achingly funny fictional memoir of a man who burnt down Emily Dickinson's house and the actions his accident inspires in others.

Maryann Mercer said...

In no particular order here:
Alafair Burke's ANGEL'S TIP(well-written and suitably thrilling)
Tony Horwitz-A VOYAGE LONG AND STRANGE (a new take on American History)
Marcus Sakey's GOOD PEOPLE(bad things can happen to them)
THREE CUPS OF TEA- Greg Mortensen and his efforts to change the world one school at a time
THE BEST HARD TIME by Egan (Twenty years of the Dust Bowl and the people who lived through it)
CHASING VERMEER by Balliett- a good mystery for kids and even parents. Two misfits have a mystery to solve and no one to help them.
David Pirie's THE PATIENT'S EYES- the first of a series subtitled 'the dark beginnings of Sherlock Holmes'
TRIGGER CITY by Sean Chercover--the 2nd Dudgeon is every bit as gripping as the first.
I have Lehane's latest on my 'to read' table and I'm halfway through Julie Hyzy's HAIL TO THE CHEF.
Now I have to go write down everyone elses choices :o)

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