A pretty magnificent year in reading, with some firm new favourite authors and publishers.
I didn’t get to see Openheimer at the cinema this year, but I did read Little Boy – the same story but told from the point of view of the chunk of Uranium-235 that went into the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Weird, wonderful, and really affecting.
Gertrude Trevelyan died in the blitz of that war and was long forgotten until now. Her two books from the Recovered Books imprint are both devastating and brilliant marvels of style and substance. Her characters are so deeply realised that I think of them most days since reading about them. She is a revelation, and I can’t wait for more of her books to be found and reissued.
A few more of Simenon’s non-Maigret novels. I love these. They’re so dark, depraved and paranoid.
I think I must’ve read at least a few books where Anthony Powell’s A Dance To The Music of Time is mentioned. I found the first two parts in a charity shop in the summer and devoured them while on holiday in Dorset. As soon as I got back I started ordering them one after the other from my local bookshop. I never thought I’d be into a between-the-wars tale of London high society, but from the viewpoint of narrator Nick Jenkins it’s addictively detailed, peculiar, funny, relatable and heart-breaking. I really do love being in the world of Jenkins, Widmerpool et al. And while you might find yourself 100 pages into an unbroken account of a peculiar incident at a party thinking, “where is this going”, Powell will bring the whole thing to a close with a sentence that reframes the whole thing into a lesson about the human condition. Incredible. I’m halfway through the 12-novel sequence and looking forward to more in 2024.
Whenever Jon McGregor does a blurb on the front of someone else’s book, I’ll read it. I haven’t yet been dissapointed. The Way The Day Breaks is utterly brilliant and real and sad, about a family living with mental illness. After reading this I had to order more from Weatherglass Books, and all of them were fantastic reads – each on very unique and very very my kind of thing. Whether it’s kids seeing angles, a grieving pianist or an artist working as a secretary who goes down a dark road of obsession – each one was addictive and memorable.
Other highlights include Leonard & Hungry Paul (believe the hype – this will change the way you see the world), Joel Lane (somebody adapt him for TV please), David Keenan (back on form with a prequel to This Is Memorial Device), Fernanda Melchor (never going to be not-brilliant) and Benjamin Myers (likewise).
- The People OppositeGeorges Simenon
- The HandGeorges Simenon
- The Snow Was DirtyGeorges Simenon
- Three Bedrooms In ManhattenGeorges Simenon
- Aliss At The FireJon Fosse
- Industry of Magic & LightDavid Keenan
- Here Be IcebergsKatya Adaui
- The Man From LondonGeorges Simenon
- The ForgeryAve Barrera
- ByobuIda Vitale
- Two SherpasSebastián Martínez Daniell
- Never Did The FireDiamela Eltit
- The TreesPercival Everett
- Dr. NoPercival Everett
- The Twilight WorldWerner Herzog
- Of Cattle And MenAna Paula Maia
- Fresh Dirt From The GraveGiovanna Rivero
- Do Start: How to Create & Run a Business (That Doesn't Run You)Dan Kiernan
- The Way The Day BreaksDavid Roberts
- SleevenotesJoe Thompson
- Two Thousand Million Man-PowerGertrude Trevelyan
- BeeswingRichard Thompson
- A Little LuckClaudia Pinero
- CuddyBenjamin Myers
- LoopBrenda Lozano
- Fever DreamSamantha Schweblin
- Cold New ClimateIsobel Wohl
- The Ghost VariationsDamian Lanigan
- The Angels of L19Jonathan Walker
- Leonard and Hungry PaulRónán Hession
- PanenkaRónán Hession
- The MenSandra Newman
- ParadaisFernanda Melchor
- The Venice TrainGeorges Simenon
- How to Be a French GirlRose Cleary
- Little BoyJohn Smith
- This Is Not MiamiFernanda Melchor
- A Question of UpbringingAnthony Powell
- A Buyer's MarketAnthony Powell
- The Acceptance WorldAnthony Powell
- William's WifeGertrude Trevelyan
- From Blue to BlackJoel Lane
- Scar CityJoel Lane
- The Woman In MeBritney Spears
- At Lady Molly'sAnthony Powell
- Casanova's Chinese RestaurantAnthony Powell
- The Kindly OnesAnthony Powell
- Not A RiverSelva Almada
- Mini Movies to MillionsDaniel Edelstyn
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