2010 in Books (+1 album, TV show, movie)

Posted by @ 12:33 am on January 5th, 2011

I read a little more than half a Louisville Slugger’s worth. Not included: the books I started and didn’t finish. Included below but not pictured: books I’ve given to friends. It was a great year, though, in that I read more books that I know I’ll reread than in any other. In mostly scattered order:

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb : It’s harder for me to talk about books I love. Generally I go into ‘It’s fucking amazing’ land and don’t return with anything calculable. What I can say about this book, which I love: it is a passionate argument for subtractive skepticism, negative epistemology, and a philosophy that draws the most pervasive and dangerous patterns of human thought. History does not crawl, it jumps, Taleb writes. Stop forecasting. Stay small. Ground-up. Mirror nature and maybe we can keep alive for awhile. In total, this is probably my favorite philosophy book of the year. This goes in the REREAD stack.

Holy Land by Rauan Klassnik : A beautiful book of poetry that made my head hurt. This is a container for some burnt images that I don’t know I’ll shake or even want to. Really really good.

Smothered In Hugs by Dennis Cooper : Dennis is a master of the interview. Reading Keanu and a young Leonardo DiCaprio interface is really fascinating. The obits, tributes and critiques are all solid. Dennis brings the good honest out of people and out of thinking.

Thom Pain (based on nothing) by Will Eno : Short, uncomfortable, and hypnotic. Or so I hope. I hope to see this performed soon. Contains an almost sharp loneliness. I read it all at once and cried near the end.

The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector : What I can say about this book I said here. One of my favorite books now, among my top three. Paths in this system dominated most of my writing for the year, too. This book is as close to sacred as I’ve found.

Ray by Barry Hannah : I read this the day Barry Hannah died. I found out he died twenty minutes after finishing. A great book. Dirty, sensitive, aggressive, poetic.

Last Days by Brian Evenson : Read this on a plane. Taut, fun, and really funny. Now this would make a great movie. Noir that works a labyrinth of cult ideology and contains some really beautiful language on environment, light, and slurred and injured time.

We Did Porn by Zak Smith : The funniest book I’ve read since the Eschaton scene in Infinite Jest (which is basically a book). Zak also nails the seemingly daily experience of feeling like an alien in L.A. Gorgeous writing, and full of eloquent arguments for and against all sorts of Big Stuff, e.g. Art, Sex, Politics, Love. I also love Zak’s art, and this book has that, too. So fucking entertaining and effective.

Extra Lives by Tom Bissell : I preferred the technical and philosophical examination of videogames over the doing-a-lot-of-coke-and-playing-GTA segments, and the former outnumber the latter. Enjoyed the interviews with the game designers the most. If you play games or are curious about people who play games: read this. Also: Tom’s intuitive about the future of story in gaming, I think.

Pigafetta Is My Wife by Joe Hall : Enjoyed this. Like Malick but malignant. A new book for love.

Maximum Gaga by Lara Glenum : Weird, suckling leech poems. Shades of Sade, warped through a higher pitch and convulsing brass instrument. Both grand and gnarly. Fun.

Closer by Dennis Cooper : Presents some of the most beautiful leaps in logic and emotion I’ve found in art. I want to call this a horror story. Feels like more than a book. Two scenes in particular are just powerful. REREAD stack.

Frisk by Dennis Cooper : This book should kill a lot of future books on murder. An important lens on desire.

Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker : Wow. Compelling. This is a document that I actually tell people is important. I’d put this in the hands of anyone who has an opinion about war or politics or political figures of the last hundred years.

There Is No Year by Blake Butler : This is big. A full review coming soon.

Ghost Machine by Ben Mirov : I said: This ‘is a soft, looping, erased-De Kooning that searches for someone it lost. Really sad. Very good. Read it.

The Tao of Wu by The RZA : Enjoyed this majorly. Fun and insightful. The RZA is wise.

Eat When You Feel Sad by Zachary German : Unique style with more than enough emotion to justify, carry and light up the whole thing. This hurts me a few times. I recommend it.

Richard Yates by Tao Lin : Funny and really fucking disturbing. Shows plainly how love can warp in another and manifest an obsessive revision, refinement, improvement, etc. Fucked up and okay.

How It Is by Samuel Beckett : Goddamn. REREAD stack, top three, etc. This does what Joyce does in Finnegans Wake: captures an entire set of behavior and thought and skews it with an essential rhythm to both destroy and revive it.

The Hollywood Economist by Edward Jay Epstein : Interesting book. What I learned: contract is king, Hollywood finance wizards are as tricky as any other finance wizards, and not many people see movies in the theatre. If you want to track the money in the entertainment industry, read this.

On The Origin of Stories by Brian Boyd : Really sensible and erudite. Posits a biological study of art; an evocriticism. Very basically: storytellers need to capture attention, and lasting stories appeal to cognitive universals. A How, What & Why of art. I highly recommend.

The Supermale by Alfred Jarry : Said this on my Twitter: Weird, prescient. I wish Jarry was alive now. Doesn’t feel like it was written in 1902 at all. Contains a scene with roses that’s crazy and great. Funny, too.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson : I love this book. It’s sublime: both beautiful and painful.  It is some new form. REREAD stack.

Nog by Rudolph Wurlitzer : Damn this is weird. I like it. Full of some really great traps/sentences.

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky : I enjoyed feeling like I could know David Foster Wallace better.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan : No bullshit. A What, Why, How and Where of eating.

The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee : Thrilling and misguided, lucid and catastrophic. Confusing, practical. This book woke me up some.

Firework by Eugene Marten : I’ve been held by Marten since Waste, which is one of my favorite books. This one is bigger, messier, more errant and fucked and American. If someone called this Moby Dick’s successor, that’d feel right.

American Genius by Lynne Tillman : I didn’t love this one, but I finished it, which is something. Although I didn’t hook into it, there is a sequence near the end that is very unique and excellent.

The Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Nicholas Taleb : Great aphorisms. Taleb’s thinking is huge and provocative as hell. These keep me thinking.

From Old Notebooks by Evan Lavender-Smith : Beautiful and varied. Performance, confession, novel, poetry, diary, trash. A full render of a man.

You Hear Ambulance Sounds And Think They Are For You by Sam Pink : An intense mood and broken trick. Sam Pink writes great philosophy as skeleton and great fiction as flesh.

Avatar by Evan Lavender-Smith : A fascinating and curious speech in and through loneliness, meaning, and space.

I also reread The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs a couple times and did the same for the next No Colony. Couldn’t be more proud of both. And now for the bonus rounds:

1 ALBUM : This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem : I love this album. I go to googoo land with this one, so just hear me say ‘It’s fucking great’ and try it.

1 TV SHOW : Breaking Bad : Thrilling, excellent drama. Expands the possibility of serialized drama. Great performances, lit and filmed beautifully, and so much fun to watch. It’s stayed with me, too.

1 MOVIE : The Thin Red Line : Started my obsession and admiration for Malick and his work. This one is the war story. A total experience.

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