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December 22nd, 2009 / 5:56 pm
Behind the Scenes

106.2 Books in 2009

I read 106 books this year. Actually, I read more because even in going through the list I am seeing things I remember reading, like John Dermot Woods’s collection, and Amina Cain’s, and Tim Horvath’s novella, and Justin Sirois’s and at least a handful of others, not to mention the various books I read in manuscript form for blurbing or review or feedback or whatever, and all the other writing in magazines and where else. Nor does it include chapbooks, which skips a lot, because there were a lot of good chapbooks this year. In the formal count pulled off the list of books I hold on my hard drive I read 106 books, and probably will 2 or 3 more between now and the year’s out. That doesn’t count, either, the books I started and gave up on: as such, the majority of the books on this list I enjoyed.

Anyway, this is what I wrote down that I read. Writing it down as you go, which I’ve been doing since 2001 now, helps me a lot to remember what and where and when about it. It also seems to help me move along. I limited myself to saying a single sentence about each, which was hard to keep to, and then hard to finish, because that’s a lot. Not as much, probably, as the number of books I bought this year or in years before still waiting for me on the piles around my loft, which together will one day become the bricks of my future home. So anyway, for the hell of it…

^ = reread

Venus Drive by Sam Lipsyte^ [I decided to open the year with this because it was sitting on my dresser, and because Lipstye’s sentences feed. It felt a good way to begin.]

Violence by Slavoj Zizek [I read this mostly nights in a little office that made my clothes smelly funny, and I wrote my own sentences after figuring out what his said, and letting it burp.]

My Romance by Gordon Lish [Read in one sitting in an uncomfortable chair, made even more uncomfortable by the descriptions of his skin condition and odd repetitions, but this might be my second favorite Lish.]

Homage to Czerny by Gert Jonke [Jonke gets senses in the oddest way, like music but not in a musical way, more like math, I will read everything of his that makes it into english.]

Maximum Gaga by Lara Glenum [I wrote a long post about this book here, I’ve read it at least twice since then.]

[untitled] by Ken Sparling [Sparling Sparling Sparling, he could strip a beautiful novella out of a plastic tree, magic.]

The Bruise by Magdalena Zurawski [I love the sense of senses in this book, the memory senses, and the way rooms work.]

The Assignment by Friedrich Durrenmatt [I bought this after reading an Evenson mention of it somewhere, it is a series of long sentences written in time to movement of a music, mystery and sentence and noir and Beckett-time skew all in one.]

Correction of Drift by Pamela Ryder [I read this in a bathtub mostly, odd ornate sentences and imagery, the window above the bath.]

Poemland by Chelsey Minnis [Someone should do a contest where the prize is go to the movies with Chelsey Minnis, she picks, there should be more people doing things that sound like you can’t write them.]

Port Trakl by Jaime Luis Huenun [Trans. Daniel Borzutzky] [I read this on the plane back from AWP, I thought about going to hijack the plane and make them take me to a place where like the sounds this book came from.]

AM/PM by Amelia Gray [I wrote about this book here, its one of my favs.]

Europeana by Patrik Ourednik [This was on my list of 25 important books of the 00s, and ever.]

The Orphan & its Relations by Elizabeth Robinson [The next 3 are all from Fence, cuz at AWP I bought all the new books they had, because I buy everything they publish, there was an image in here about a bear on a road on a road on a road.]

19 Names for Our Band by Jibade-Khalil Huffman [I think I remember thinking one of the poems in here was one of the better I’d read in a long time, I love the cover and feel of this book.]

Site Acquisition by Brian Young [Like the title the whole thing kind of mesmerized, reminded me a lot in texture of The Stupefying Flashbulbs, one of my favorite oddtext books.]

Impotent by Matthew Roberson [Interesting use of form around stories around pharmaceuticals, felt different and memorable.]

The Bathroom by Jean-Philippe Toussaint [I like the idea of the idea of this book, I want to get in and crawl around in it.]

Mopus by Oisin Curran [Fukked use of senses to create space in time, like Joyelle McSweeney hanging out with Tom Waits’s Ouilpian little brother, making dollhouses of of hair.]

Dark Paradise by Rosa Liksom [Read this on a plane, thought the plane was going to crash, it was dark.]

With Deer by Aase Berg [I want to eat dinner with Aase Berg while some people deconstruct plastic animals on a bed.]

Frisk by Dennis Cooper^ [Sentences, image, infect language. Pictures. Hadn’t read in years, felt like years.]

The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills [Funny, awkward. If this wasn’t blurbed by George Saunders it should have been.]

Arbitrary Tales by Daniel Borzutzky [Everyone should buy this weird little collection of wood carvings that move, eerie.]

Pigeon Post by Dumitru Tsepeneag [If Jimmy Chen were 65 and an Oulipian, fun and loopy.]

Rose Alley by Jeremy M. Davies [I reviewed this book for Bookslut.]

Drift and Swerve by Samuel Ligon [There are few who can bring as many voices into one place and nail them all, and have them be cohesive as Sam does. I will remember these stories for a long time.]

Everything Was Fine Until Whatever by Chelsea Martin [Read twice, for blurb, and then again when it came, Chelsea has gorgeous cojones, makes me laugh a lot.]

Geronimo Rex by Barry Hannah [The boss’s early big boss, made me want to go get in a fight, except I kept reading.]

The PASSION According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector [A friend told me this was like my Ever, it was like that except if the brain got burnt in a little spot and the woman just stayed in one room, I loved.]

The Mirror in the Well by Micheline Aharonian Marcom [Made me uncomfortable in a good way, like sicky for bodies, like geez.]

The Pharmacist’s Mate by Amy Fusselman [Hm.]

The Conversions by Harry Mathews [I used a quote from this in lecture on sentences this year, about bees filled with curative and sent to fix a disease over the land.]

The Complete Butcher’s Tales by Rikki Ducornet [Fuck, wow, where has this been, weirdest little lockbox of stories full of stories.]

The Other City by Michal Ajvaz [I wrote about this book and Inland Empire here.]

For Those Whom God Has Blessed With Fingers by Ken Sparling [Ken Sparkling is a writer’s writer’s writer’s writer. Funny and touch your eye.]

Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker [I’ve talked about this book a lot, I admire the fuck out of it, I wish more history books were written this way, we would be a smarter people.]

Natural Novel by Georgi Gospodinov [I can’t remember much about this novel, I think I was sick on a plane when I read it. Too lazy to look.]

A Jello Horse by Matthew Simmons [My favorite reading of the year was Matthew reading from this while his mom watched him smiling. She should smile.]

Down and Out on Murder Mile by Tony O’Neill [Tony seems to have a huge heart, and at the same time writes these black little scenes, the fusion of which always catches me surprised, in a warm way.]

Where I Stay by Andrew Zornoza [I wrote about this here, long interview with Andrew coming soon.]

The World Beneath by Aaron Gwyn [I really wanted this to be amazing, it is about a hole appears in a man’s backyard, it wasn’t amazing, it was OK, seemed rushed at point, a couple scenes were really good.]

The Book of Frank by CA Conrad [Most interestingly framed book of poems I’ve read in a long time, filthy funny fun.]

The Collectors by Matt Bell [Read this in manuscript and then in final form, Matt is a brother obsessor, loved.]

All the Day’s Sad Stories by Tina May Hall [Could not have been a better duo of Caketrain novellas, still haunted by the images of the intruder outside the house.]

Fugue State by Brian Evenson [I wrote almost a novella length set of reviews about this book here, one left.]

Star in the Eye by James Shea [Quiet, weird, I can’t remember where I was when I read this, probably many days.]

Kamby Bolongo Mean River by Robert Lopez [I’ve written a bunch about this, including it in the top books of the 00s, it is a stirring book in a way few are.]

Tranquility by Attila Bartis [Dirty and claustrophobic, seemed like there were 100 mothers in the book, but there was only one.]

Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper [So glad to have all these weird little bibbits in one place, and yet feeling a whole in them, object, mm.]

Jakob von Gunten by Robert Walser [Gotta be honest, came really hyped, didn’t feel as much of the hype inside it, but enjoyed. Reminded me of a book I read over and over as a child, but put through a blender, which in realization makes me like it more as remembrance.]

Baby Leg by Brian Evenson [I wrote a web blurb for this excellent book here.]

Today I Wrote Nothing by Daniil Kharms [Read mostly waiting for H. on a bench along a street, hilarious, odd, moving, oddly moving, rereadable to n.]

Degenerescence by James Chapman [Read this on a Greyhound, like a Bible for a life’s work in repetition moves, really powerful.]

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson [Read this story by story over a good stretch, as I like to do with fine things, Kevin Wilson makes narratives that seem like not narratives that are narrative. I particularly love The Dead Sister Handbook.]

The Failure Six by Shane Jones [Read in manuscript in an evening in my mother’s chair in front of a muted TV, still have that bhhhmmm sound in my teeth.]

Jerusalem by Goncalo M. Tavares [Odd, fractured, slowly spilling narrative, Kafka and Altman but in translation, and odd timing.]

Ray of the Star by Laird Hunt [Only Laird Hunt can write Laird Hunt books, he is irreducible and singular, read in a van.]

God Jr. by Dennis Cooper [Read laying on my back in the van near the ceiling of the van, felt like I was pressed against the book, I was.]

Death Sentence by Maurice Blanchot [I read this because of seeing one certain line as an epigraph somewhere, I wish I could remember the line.]

The Show That Smells by Derek McCormack [One of the most unusually styled books I read all year, in the best way, as to be expected from Derek McCormack, a true mind inside a body, textual jewelry.]

We Did Porn by Zak Smith [Really fun and smartly written, behind the scenes of art and porn scenes, what else do you want.]

The Sluts by Dennis Cooper [I wrote about this book a lot this year, beginning here.]

Recollections of the Golden Triangle by Alain Robbe-Grillet [Freaky, doors, tunnels, influential clearly on many authors I enjoy.]

I Remember by Joe Brainard [Back rooms of the 50s, repetition, weird light, gluey, different, mesmerizing.]

The Great Fire of London by Jacques Roubaud [Read in hotels in France and on trains, felt like being put in small boxes with controlled light.]

The Voyeur by Alain Robbe-Grillet [Read on a train through Italy next to a guy and his very young escort or daughter, perfect. Seems like every writer could be improved reading his books, the hype is real.]

The Crab Nebula by Eric Chevillard [Took me a few false starts to get into the style before I got it, then I got it, Borges with brain damage.]

Hidden Camera by Zoran Zivkovic [Read really fast and addicted, but didn’t love the sentences, was editing it while I read, still made me feel nuts some in a hotel in Venice.]

Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog [Got in Paris, read on the long flight home from Rome, gotfuckingdamson, dude is dark as night in night, can write like his cameras.]

Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin [I read it in the bathtub, it made me laugh out loud several times, that doesn’t happen a lot. Smart.]

The Collected Fanzines by Harmony Korine [If I had a coffeetable I might put this on my coffeetable.]

The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott [Read this on the plane to New York and back, and elsewhere, I like that it feels unlike any other book I’ve read.]

A Novel of Thank You by Gertrude Stein [Bought this one morning in a random store with a few hours to kill, I read I think 14 pages, they were good pages.]

The Mothering Coven by Joanna Ruocco [I read this the day my sister’s house got hit by the flood, was drinking a smoothie, it felt right, loved the new tone.]

The Creepy Girl by Janet Mitchell [Mitchell appeared regularly in the Quarterly, I’m not sure why more people didn’t talk about this, it’s fantastic.]

My Loose Thread by Dennis Cooper [Probably the most emotionally smashing DC book, felt like trapped in a tunnel between two periods of life, power.]

Tripticks by Ann Quin [Collage mouth roadtrip without moving, I feel like many have stolen what she made and hidden it well, everyone should read this.]

Fakers by Paul Maliszweski [Essays about liars and fakers, I read crushed on a sofa, feeding the nonfiction feed.]

Period by Dennis Cooper^ [My first Cooper book from when I was like 20 revisited, but better, it is a puzzlebox of the highest order, my favorite Cooper, mirrors.]

Twisty Little Passages by Nick Montfort [Bought and read at &Now, about interactive computer fiction texts, stared like a child in a small room.]

Babyfucker by Urs Allemann [Totally elevates beyond the shock of the title, which is enough to make someone buy: Beckett talking dirty, squealing.]

Glory Hole by Dan Hoy & The Hot Tub by Jon Leon [Beautiful dual package of weird obscurist poems, the Hoy made me feel like driving a car fast.]

Fences by Ben Brooks [Read at the library, felt excited by the ideas and their makings in makings, some beautiful short sentences.]

The Fatalist by Lyn Hejinian [Read on recommendation of Amy after she read my Ever, secret peeping into weird boxes, feel like there’s a lot hidden here.]

Killing Kanoko by Hiromi Ito [Vital bright pink book of fucked poems, smart poems, mothers, I posted about this here.]

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje [Read the first half greatly enjoying, then left the book in a room I didn’t come back to, I kind of like it in half there.]

Wittgenstein’s Nephew by Thomas Bernhard [Lee Klein was right, the whole of the book is realtered by its ending, felt refreshing.]

The Difficult Farm by Heather Christle [Heather is a boombox and a sawhorse and a multi-lantern and a guide.]

Bending the Mind Around the Dream’s Blown Fuse by Timothy Liu [Tim always brings the oddest emotions out of me, emotions! Poetry could use more. Tim can kill a dance, and a line.]

You Bright and Risen Angels by William Vollmann [A fucked and eating beast, I don’t know why I’d never opened it, but man, the first couple hundred pages do so much with fiction, levels.]

The Stupefying Flashbulbs by Daniel Brenner (reread) [Seriously one of my favorite books of poems. Odd objects larger inside than out. Cubes and McLight and best confusions.]

Joseph Cornell’s Dreams ed. by Catherine Corman [Read this in the library again, the title is literal, little boxy triggers.]

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker [Reawakened my Baker fiction fetish, wrote about this here.]

U and I by Nicholson Baker [And immediately out of the prior, continued on in the same seat, wrote about it also here.]

Out of Work by Greg Mulcahy [Some of the blackest stuff I read all year, working man’s black, images I won’t shake.]

Frost by Thomas Bernhard [Still reading this, page by page a monster, might be my favorite of his so far.]

The City & The City by China Mieville [So much weird guts in this, a very fast and fun read.]

Eat When You Feel Sad by Zachary German [Zach did something I’ve never seen before here I think, it’s going to be fun to watch this come out, will be talking more about it here soon, Warhol or something.]

Difference & Repetition by Gilles Deleuze [Again, so much to parse, Drums.]

Decreation by Anne Carson [Beautiful essay about sleep in here eats me up.]

Vanishing Point by Ander Monson [Read this on a plane again felt like Monson was in the seat behind me with a laptop typing.]

Cinema 1 by Gilles Deleuze [Still trying to get this in my life, cinema as infection into air.]

The Book of Beginnings and Endings by Jenny Boully [I’m confused, I think that’s the point, the spine is staring.]

The Open Curtain by Brian Evenson^ [Felt really good to go back to this box at the end of the year, after a long while, after the joy of which, in one sitting I could not stop]

The Wavering Knife by Brian Evenson^ [from rereading as well this one, which I am, in rereading for the 4th or 9th time convinced is one of the great collections as art object in all writing.]

Cronopios and Famas by Julio Cortazar (a gift from Gene Kwak, which I am reading now.)

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