My Favorite Books from 2009 (in alphabetical order):

I’ve read over 120 books in 2009, and by the time the year is up I’ll have reviewed over fifty. At the risk of being redundant, I’ve put together a list of the books I thought were this year’s best. I’ve also included links to the ones I reviewed. But before that, I should mention some great books that weren’t published this year: Eugene Lim’s Fog & Car, Eugene Marten’s Waste, Mary Caponegro’s first three books, Ken Sparling’s Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Lavinia, and Michael Kimball’s The Way the Family Got Away and Dear Everybody. And then there’s Shane Jones’s The Failure Six, David Shields’s Reality Hunger, and Ander Monson’s Vanishing Point, all of which won’t be released until next year. By the way, while the so-called major presses churned out a whole lot of fluff I did enjoy John Haskell’s Out of My Skin and Anne Michaels’s The Winter Vault. Oh, and I should mention The Complete Cosmicomics, by Italo Calvino which  is playful and inventive in that inimitably Calvino way. Each chapter is a combination of pseudo-science (as far as I can tell) and fantasy—a weird mishmash of fable and fact. They sound like entries from an encyclopedia sometimes, albeit a whimsical one. This was the best way to close out the year. So, besides beautifully-crafted language, eddying narratives, evocative imagery, and provocative characters—whose quirks, thoughts, and comings and goings remain with me—what the books on this list have in common is that they were published by independent presses.
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Nick Antosca’s Best of 2009

Because my reading is so divorced from the calendar (I can’t even remember what came out this year), I’m going to just list a couple things I “discovered” this year, i.e. books or writers that I didn’t know existed before 2009 and which I now love.

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Big Other Contributors’ News

header3Leni Zumas has a fantastic new story in Kitty Snack’s 2nd issue. Please check out an excerpt of “On Water” HERE.

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Artistically DeclinedRyan Bradley is co-publisher of the new press Artistically Declined which will be releasing Ken Sparling’s elusive second novel, Hush Up and Listen Stinky Poo Butt in early 2010. Sparling is the author of three other novels, Dad Says He Saw You At The Mall, For Those Whom God Has Blessed With Fingers, and [untitled]. Previously Hush Up and Listen was available only in handmade editions by request, Artistically Declined is looking forward to bringing this fantastic novel of fatherhood to more readers. Ryan is also the editor of their journal Sententia. Check out guidelines HERE. And please feel free to use that “poster” on the left on your blog, Facebook, and/or the like to help spread the news!

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John Madera has a review of Nick Antosca’s Midnight Picnic at The Collagist. Check it out HERE.

He’s also posted Music Inspired by Light Boxes HERE.

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pretty

Check it out and spread the love: Kim Chinquee‘s new book hits in April. Here are blurbs:

“There is always a roiling subtext beneath the seemingly placid surfaces and tones of Chinquee’s pieces, a dichotomy which speaks to deep truths about the human condition. Kim Chinquee is a true artist with a true vision, and Pretty is a brilliant book.”—Robert Olen Butler

“These brief snapshots of conversations manage to seem not like fragments of lost wholes but like vivid distillations of essential dramas, each a variation on the shared subject of thwarted intimacy.”—Carl Dennis

“Kim Chinquee writes with remarkable heart and grace. Her wise capsulizings of love’s devastations and of life’s roil and disappointments come at you with a sorrowing precision that comforts even as it haunts.”—Gary Lutz

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We Take Me Apart

Check out Molly Gaudry‘s We Take Me Apart (forthcoming from Mud Luscious Press, December 2009)

There is no more perfect place to be than in Molly Gaudry’s tender, dirt-floored novel(la), WE TAKE ME APART. Oh cabbage leaves, oh roses, oh orange-slice childhood grins: this book broke my heart. Its sad memory-tropes come from fairy tales & childhood books. With language, Gaudry is as loving & careful as one is with a matchbook . . . when wishing to set the whole word on fire.—Kate Bernheimer

Entwining the trance that is childhood around the hallucination that constitutes adulthood, Molly Gaudry’s WE TAKE ME APART is a bewitching & carefully barbed tale.  A cross between silence & a fairy tale, Gaudry’s Beckettian narrative sews bright bits to near-faint whispers, slowly swaddling us in quiet & darkness.—Brian Evenson

Molly Gaudry’s WE TAKE ME APART is a dazzleflage of a book.  The stuttering disrupted language of this cubist con-coction disappears before your ears, sinks into your eyes.  This aggressive dress camouflage reweaves Gertrude Stein’s rewoven grammar of worsted silk-screened gabardine into a fully ripped patois-ed pattern of stunning wonder.—Michael Martone