As it nears the end of the year I’m in a reflective frame of mind and have taken to mulling over the books I read throughout 2011 and selecting a couple that I would recommend to anyone – friend or foe. So without giving away any plot spoilers in case they are on your ‘to-read’ list for 2012 here we go:
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, has to be one of my outstanding picks of 2011; this is an unnervingly gritty story depicting violence, crime, greed, sibling rivalry and familial love. Written with splashes of black humour seeped throughout the dark prose deWitt’s anti-western, anti-hero is powerful and engaging right up to the end. That and its cinematic style is just calling out for some of the Cohen Brothers treatment – and that can surely be no bad thing!
Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, I know it looks as if I’m just running through the Man Booker Prize shortlist but this was a deserved winner, it’s a beautifully written and gorgeously delivered narrative following a 60 year-old man as he remembers, reconstructs and re-evaluates his past. The slightly disappointing twist at the end aside, this is an affecting and touching short novel that will undoubtedly encourage you to question your own memory and identity along the way.
Men in Space by Tom McCarthy, this was the first book I read in January 2011 when I returned from New Year celebrations in Prague and as such I’m probably completely biased towards it, being able to perfectly picture scenes in and around the city. It really is a good bit of writing though full of visual imagery strung together with precise and poetic prose. Each section is beautifully crafted with each character circling each other, revealing themselves layer by layer to the reader. This is a tightly crafted novel that loses you and skilfully finds you again – perfect!
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, oh my, what a hauntingly, gripping tale full of tense and truly sweaty palm, heart-beating moments. Mary Yellan is such a feisty heroine and stands up for herself and her Aunt in ways you can only hope you could if faced with the same dilemmas. I was completely enthralled with this dark, bleak and pacey novel and was hooked right up to the mysterious, twisting finale.
I really have read some great books this year including some that have been on my ‘must read’ list for some time Jane Eyre; The Lost World and Empire of the Sun to name but a few. But as always I don’t feel as if I’ve read half as much as I ought this past 12 months – but then you never do do you?
Here’s hoping 2012 will be just as good (if not better) then 2011!