my response to books i read in 2015

i’m doing a series of weekly prompts by Sarah Selecky and the prompt is to respond to the books i’ve read. i took the opportunity to do so with my 2015 book list in a kinda stream-of-consciousness way:

  1. Anatomy of a Girl Gang by Ashley Little (fiction). a disturbing scene that involves a curling iron. beautifully structured and the voices of each gang member are strong.
  2. Missing Men by Joyce Johnson (CNF). Joyce Johnson is a beat writer largely ignored because of her gender. this is a sad, sad thing.
  3. Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson (CNF). why do women fall in love with assholes? why do women place their creative impulses second to others?
  4. Journey Prize Anthology #26 (2014)(short stories). variety is the spice of life.
  5. Novelists by CP Boyko (short stories) (half-read). you know, sometimes writers rush to finish their projects and that’s a bad thing.
  6. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry (fiction). Sebastian Barry is a genius of lyric sentences.
  7. Conceit by Mary Novik (historical fiction). history comes alive to the senses under Mary Novik’s deft writing.
  8. Missing Person by Patrick Modiano (fiction). i cannot write. i’m a loser.
  9. Regeneration by Pat Barker (historical fiction). obsession is a fine thing for Pat Barker.
  10. The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker (historical fiction). obsession is a fine thing for Pat Barker.
  11. The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (historical fiction). obsession is a fine thing for Pat Barker.
  12. The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks (fiction). a community is a living creature.
  13. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (fiction). what a creepy book, and why didn’t i read this sooner?
  14. Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod (short stories) (reread). these stories are mathematically alive.
  15. Goldengrove by Francine Prose (fiction). such formal language for teenagers but structurally strong.
  16. King Leary by Paul Quarrington (fiction). quirky.
  17. The Red Notebook by Paul Auster (essays on craft) (reread for posterity, inspiration). obsession is a fine thing for Paul Auster.
  18. Close to Hugh by Marina Endicott (fiction). an old-fashioned novel of canadian manners. with puns.
  19. Smoke River by Krista Foss (fiction). a labour of love. long sentences, though.
  20. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (fiction). i cannot write. i’m a loser, again.
  21. Sweetland by Michael Crummey (fiction). structurally interesting. writing that feels alive. organic.
  22. Knife Fight at the Hotel Europa by Mark A. Jarman (short stories). scrapes my cerebral space. lonely writing.
  23. Fishbowl by Bradley Somers (fiction). fun and vertiginous.
  24. Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (fiction). manly.
  25. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (fiction) (reread). i love this book.
  26. The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (NF) (partial read). i think i’m losing my mind.
  27. Swamplandia! By Karen Russell (fiction). amorphous in structure but the voice! strong.
  28. Chinkstar by Jon Chan Simpson (fiction). Red Deer! Red Deer!
  29. Otherwise Known as the Human Condition by Geoff Dyer (NF) (partial read). man, this guy is prolific. and a little exhausting.
  30. Act Normal by Greg Hollingshead (short stories). these stories are extruded. and, man, Greg’s style has evolved from earlier stories.
  31. Daddy Lenin by Guy Vanderhaeghe (short stories). there are a lot of boners in this collection.
  32. Story by Robert McKee (craft) (partial read). i know nothing. i cannot write. i’m a loser, once more.
  33. How Fiction Works by James Wood (craft). this guy is smart and well-read. i should read more.
  34. Martin John by Anakana Schofield (fiction). fascinating form and language. unforgettable.
  35. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (fiction). an emotional read about dogs. classical emphasis made palatable.
  36. Chronicle of a Death Foretold (fiction) (reread). a fine work of fiction.
  37. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (fiction) (reread). i love this book.
  38. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (linked short stories). stylistically interesting collection of interconnected stories: the stories change from simplistic to complex.
  39. If I Fall, if I Die by Michael Christie (fiction). this writer worked his manuscript to the bone and the result is a beautiful story. this writer did not rush to finish his project and that is a wonderful thing.
  40. The Abortion Monologues by Jane Cawthorne (play). a must read for every woman.
  41. The Last Temptation of Bond by Kimmy Beach (poetry). a snappy book of poetry that reads like fiction.
  42. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (fiction). a beautiful book.
  43. Garnethill by Denise Mina (mystery). scary but relatable.
  44. Confidence by Russell Smith (short stories). Toronto! Toronto! i think Russell has problems with intimacy.
  45. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (NF) (reread). a rollicking good time.
  46. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules by David Sederis (anthology of short stories) (reread). i don’t know what stories i would place in an anthology. that’s a hard question. thank god for humour in these fine stories.
  47. Boys by Kathleen Winter (short stories). quirky, funny.
  48. Debris Stories by Kevin Hard-castle (short stories). i had no fucking idea there are that many words for tarmac. these stories were worked to the bone and the result is wonderful. this editor did not rush the project and that is a wonderful thing.
  49. Journey Prize Anthology #27 (2015) (short stories). again, variety, spice of life, etc.etc.