Last month, Grace Krilanovich's surreal, phantasmagorical The Orange Eats Creeps, made Amazon's Top 10 Best SF/Fantasy for the year. Along with the other writers who made the list, she's been invited to provide her own list of favorite reads in 2010. Here's Krilanovich's list. Some really great choices!
TOP 10 BOOKS OF 2010
by Grace Krilanovich
In no particular order"¦
Nox, Anne Carson "“ A tactile artwork/poem that enlarges on the form of the elegy to include meditative collage and artmaking and a belief in the mystical power of words. Carson presents "evidence" in the form of definitions, images and ephemera, as if to extract an answer from the enigmatic dead. People have such a strong attraction to this book, understandably, because Nox is such an exquisite object. It's great to see New Directions stepping up and lavishing as much as they did on it.
Man in the Woods, Scott Spencer "“ The generosity and compassion he shows his characters makes me all the more aware of how important it is for a writer to like people. Sounds like such a given, I know! But what Spencer has achieved with this novel "“ and with the most effortless precision "“ blew me away.
Three Delays, Charlie Smith "“ Weeks after finishing this book I am still haunted by a single, matter of fact line spoken towards the end of the novel. Smith here combines no-holds-barred poetic language -- stunningly lush and vibrant -- funny, clipped dialogue and the beautifully deranged narration of an ultra-dramatic druggie protagonist.
The Last Muster: Images of the Revolutionary War Generation, Maureen Taylor "“ I stumbled upon this one, and then I was immediately transfixed. The book brings together 70 or so early photographs: daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and ferrotypes, portraits of extremely old people -- which in the 1840s-60s, places them as children and adolescents during the Revolutionary War period. Truly amazing that there even exists photographic images of people who drew breath during Washington and Jefferson's day.
Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book, Lynda Barry "“ Overflowing with a sense of delight and gratitude for the powers of the imagination, and the interplay between the life of the mind and the world of images, the former yielding to the latter like a tide lapping at a sandy shore"¦ The companion book to the brilliant What It Is tackles the question of why we draw, and what makes us stop.
There's a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From, Bryan Charles "“ So hard to read this book, knowing each sentence propels you forward on an inexorable march toward the tragedy we know is coming, and that the nature of this trauma is both shared and specific; it makes this memoir disarming, and totally captivating. When I say "hard to read" I mean it's the kind of difficulty, indeed a visceral reading experience, I would take over its opposite any day.
Ten Walks/Two Talks, Jon Cotner & Andy Fitch "“ Walking around Manhattan, writing about what you see, the bustle, gestures, sounds, and activity bubbling up all around you, down to the curled shoots of greenery growing in sidewalk plots; the form is so simple and time-worn (the authors have drawn inspiration from the Edo-era poet BashÅ's travel diaries) -- and yet so hypnotic and enthralling and alive.
Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle "“ The central idea of this book "“ that no person is outside the circle of our compassion "“ is so simply and memorably presented, that it's hard to imagine anybody reading it and not being changed by Boyle's stories culled from 20 years of working with East LA gangs. Because it's certainly not "just" about gang members, it's about the very idea of the value of the person.
Just Kids, Patti Smith "“ Young Patti Smith's precocious tastes and huge appetite for art, books, music, you-name-it, from the age of, say, three is just one of the endearing qualities of this memoir. There is the charming, beautiful, sad story of love and friendship. There's an artist's coming of age story. When she gets into the business of setting the scene of her and Robert Mapplethorpe's bohemian adventures "“ the loose, wild, scummy NYC of the late sixties and seventies, with all the attendant luminaries -- you realize that this is a very important work of history too.
Animals Make Us Human, Temple Grandin "“ One of those books that changes irrevocably how you view a certain subject. In this case, animals. Chapter by chapter, species by species, Grandin lays out the reasons why animals behave the way they do, her perspectives often at odds with prevailing notions. In one eye-opening example after another, based on her own research, you might come to see how it's possible that a lavish, seemingly "natural" zoo enclosure can be deadening to the spirit of a big cat, for instance, because it fails to engage its stalking instinct.