Because it’s that time again. My personal list of favorite books from 2011, or some books I found to be particularly significant, insightful, brilliant, masterful, enjoyable, notable. In no particular order.
Compression & Purity – by Will Alexander (City Lights, 2011)
Another one from prolific surrealist poet Will Alexander.
“I am never given due as to sum or proportion / I am seen as the source of something leprous / as no longer the motive of who I was thought I was shaped to be.”
I Fell in Love With a Monster Truck (PARROT 8) – by Amanda Ackerman (Insert Press, 2011)
This book gave me so much pleasure, I’m not even sure how to describe it. Plus the drawings. I love Amanda’s writing. &, if you aren’t already familiar with the PARROT series, you should be. It’s a brilliant and beautiful set of chapbooks. Some of the earlier titles are sold out, but many more are on the way.
By Kelman Out of Pessoa – by Doug Nufer (Les Figues Press, 2011)
A wonderfully pleasant literary experiment circling around the horse races.
“Consider art a complex betting game in which participants—artists, critics, audiences, institutions—wager both money and reputations but must pretend, for the sake of decorum, that no bets are being placed. By Kelman suggest that our (false) modesty cannot conceal the speculative nature of the enterprise—suggests, too, that the size of the wages matters less than their import to the participants’ lives.” – from the introduction by Louis Bury
The Vicious Red Relic, Love – by Anna Joy Springer (Jaded Ibis Press, 2011)
“Anna Joy Springer’s The Vicious Red Relic, Love is a gnarly siren song of a book for those so ambitiously thankful. Categorized as a fabulist memoir, the book unfolds by way of diary entries, scrawled school lecture notes, shit-smeared dollhouse worlds called “metaforests,”… Slistynopology (brainchild of an Enron Scabbard) cult literature, collaged drawings, and a tiny tinfoil elephant named Blinky.” – From Gina Albekop’s review. Read the rest of the review here.
The Avian Gospels – by Adam Novy (Short Flight/Long Drive Books, 2010)
I’ve had these books sitting on my “to-read” pile for awhile now, and after seeing him read last week, finally decided to dig into them. A powerfully gorgeous and religious novel. One of the most beautiful novels I’ve read in awhile.
“It is we who are doomed, and you who are released, we who, spirit-corpses, toil beneath the living, brandishing our phantom-knives at plethoras of nothing, and you who see the Earth from above, clenched and pulsing, like a sparrow’s heart.” – from Part 1.
The Chronology of Water – by Lidia Yuknavitch (Hawthorne Books, 2011)
This book changed the way I think about memoirs. Utterly beautiful and devastating at the same time.
Bluets – by Maggie Nelson (Wave Books, 2009)
I also read this one late, and was really struck by the preciseness of her language.
“For no one really knows what color is, where it is, even whether it is. (Can it die? Does it have a heart?) Think of a honeybee, for instance, flying into the folds of a poppy: it sees a gaping violet mouth, where we see an orange flower and assume that it’s orange, that we’re normal.”
The Invention of Morel – by Adolfo Bioy Cesares (NYRB Classics, 2003)
The classic masterpiece considered to be the inspiration behind Last Year in Marienbad.
“The Invention of Morel may be described, without exaggeration, as a perfect novel… Bioy Cesares’s theme is not cosmic, but metaphysical: the body is imaginary, and we bow to the tyranny of a phantom.” – Octavio Paz.
The Book of Interfering Bodies – by Daniel Borzutsky (Nightboat Books, 2011)
One of my favorite books of the year. “Son do not murmur the names of the dead because if you murmur the names of the dead you will ruin the poetry of death.”
It It Almost That: A Collection of Image + Text Work by Women Artists & Writers (Siglio Press, 2011)
A truly brilliant collection. Read this great review of the anthology by Eileen Myles.
Schizophrene – by Bhanu Kapil (Nightboat Books, 2011)
The Source – By Noah Eli Gordon (Futurepoem, 2011)
Zeno’s Conscience – by Italo Sveno (Vintage Books, 2001)
Zippermouth – by Laurie Weeks (The Feminist Press, 2011)
1Q84 – by Haruki Murakami (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011)
The Last Books of Héctor Viel Temperley – Translated by Stuart Krimko (Sand Paper Press, 2011)
The Philosophy of Surrealism – by Ferdinand Alquié (University of Michigan, 1969)
Come And See – by Fanny Howe (Graywolf Press, 2011)
The Sense of an Ending – by Julian Barnes (Knopf, 2011)
Visual Storytelling: Inspiring a New Visual Language (Gestalten, 2011)
Habibi – by Craig Thompson (Pantheon, 2011)
& a ton of other books but let’s stop here…
What were some of your favorite books of 2011?
What were your must-reads?