Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top 5 best fiction books of 2010 according to the NY Times (that may just make for good Christmas break reading)

List by Tosca

"Next to a circus there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit."
- Kin Hubbard

Sometimes, though, a stolen moment of peace and quiet in your newly cleared backyard (yes, in *my* newly cleared backyard) to indulge in a spot of escapism in the form of a book, can go a long way towards helping you retain your Christmas bonhomie. I'm totally pooped! I've spent the last two and a half hours working on a major part of last night's top 5 list (Top 5 chores I have to take care of before the impending parental Christmas day visit). And so I sit here, covered once again in grass gunk, snail trails and leaves but feeling pretty gosh darn good. My brain, though, is absolutely fried. So fried that I'm going to cheat, just a little (is that like being a little bit pregnant?) and admit that I browsed the NY Times books section for ideas. What I came out of there with, other than a long list of 'DO WANTS' and 'MUST HAVES,' was the thought that if I'm interested in their best fiction books for this year then others might be, too. If you're looking for some peace and quiet over the Christmas break, then these titles just may help you escape. Even if it's only for 10 minutes :)

I've been tossing over the idea that one of the remaining '12 days of Christmas' posts will be about how to take awesome photos. Last night my nephews, Mr. 13 and Mr. 12, found a box of old photos and started going through them. We had fun giggling and chortling over old Christmas photos but I have to be honest - mum and dad are incapable of taking good quality shots. If they had, though, I'm not sure the boys and I would've had as much fun last night! What I saw, though, was horrific amounts of orange faces (god bless the 70s), chopped off heads, partial shots of people's bodies (where their left sides were I have no idea), blurry people (I think they were people) and, worse, I had a monobrow at 5 years of age. Argh! So keep an eye out for some titles that teach you how *not* to take photos like my mum and dad. I love them lots but they really do take some awful photos.

A visit from the Goon Squad / Jennifer Egan
"Jennifer Egan’s interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa. We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from the city’s demimonde and experiences an epiphany of his own while staring at a sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice in the Museo Nazionale. We meet Bennie Salazar at the melancholy nadir of his adult life—divorced, struggling to connect with his nine-year-old son, listening to a washed-up band in the basement of a suburban house—and then revisit him in 1979, at the height of his youth, shy and tender, reveling in San Francisco’s punk scene as he discovers his ardor for rock and roll and his gift for spotting talent. We learn what became of his high school gang—who thrived and who faltered—and we encounter Lou Kline, Bennie’s catastrophically careless mentor, along with the lovers and children left behind in the wake of Lou’s far-flung sexual conquests and meteoric rise and fall." -- Publisher description.

Selected stories / William Trevor
A new collection of Trevor's short stories brings together 48 exquisitely rendered tales that brilliantly illuminate the human condition.

Room : a novel / Emma Donoghue
It's Jack's birthday, and he's excited about turning five. Jack lives with his Ma in a room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 12 feet by 12 feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real - only him, Ma and the things in room. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside...Told in Jack's voice, "Room" is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.

The New Yorker : stories / Ann Beattie
Complete collection of the author's stories previously published in The New Yorker, 1974-2006.

Freedom / Jonathan Franzen
The idyllic lives of civic-minded environmentalists Patty and Walter Berglund come into question when their son moves in with aggressive Republican neighbours, green lawyer Walter takes a job in the coal industry, and go-getter Patty becomes increasingly unstable and enraged.

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