Having read everyone else’s reviews of the year I thought I may as well throw in my twopenn’orth. Top 5 books of the year (in my opinion anyway).
1. Hey Nostradamus (Douglas Coupland) (buy it)
offmessage review here – I still think it was the best fiction published last year. Some people will say that Coupland’s sometimes knowing, sometimes saccharine prose isn’t for them, but this is seriously Coupland’s best book. And that makes it very good indeed.
2. Tokyo Doesn’t Love Us Anymore (Ray Loriga) (buy it)
offmessage review here. Absolutely stunning hyper-real trip through the nature of memory, drugs, conscience and love. Consistently shocking and illuminating. A superb, all consuming read.
3. Everything is Illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer) (buy it)
No offmessage review (yet). 2 narrative strands move inexorably (one back in time, one forward) towards the holocaust. Doesn’t sound like a bundle of laughs? This is one of the funniest and most moving books I’ve ever read. It takes a long time to get into and one of the narrative strands is pretty simple Marquez-lite, but the way this book is woven together and the power of the ending make this a tremendous book. Read it.
4. Pattern Recognition (William Gibson) (buy it)
No offmessage review (yet). I don’t think many people were expecting Gibson’s first ‘real’ (i.e. non-SciFi) novel to be so… well… Real. His response to 9/11 – this is an enthralling (if rather time sensitive) book that really uses, even anchors, today’s technologies in a global Internet thriller. It’s the first novel I’ve read that makes search engines, ISPs, bulletin boards and cellphones integral to the plot yet invisible. Along with Tokyo Doesn’t Love Us Anymore this is a real 21st century novel. Let there be more like them.
5. Dorian (Will Self) (buy it)
No offmessage review (yet). A retelling of Oscar Wilde’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” through the AIDS epidemic of the 80s. Self would like us to believe that this is his roman a clef. Is it? Do we actually care? It’s a completely outrageous read either way. As with much of Self’s work it’s frequently over intellectual but it’s daring, startling, funny and shocking. Blows the cobwebs away, without a doubt.