You are currently browsing the daily archive for January 23, 2009.
I can’t imagine someone being able to read 100 books from one year so I’ve chisled it down (to the ones that interest me the most) to ten books of fiction, all five books of poetry listed and 10 nonfiction books. For the full list go to the 100 Books You Should Have Read Last Year
ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES. By Rivka Galchen. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.) The psychiatrist-narrator of this brainy, whimsical first novel believes that his beautiful, much-younger Argentine wife has been replaced by an exact double.
A BETTER ANGEL: Stories. By Chris Adrian. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) For Adrian — who is both a pediatrician and a divinity student — illness and a heightened spiritual state are closely related conditions.
THE BOAT. By Nam Le. (Knopf, $22.95.) In the opening story of Le’s first collection, a blocked writer succumbs to the easy temptations of “ethnic lit.”
THE ENGLISH MAJOR. By Jim Harrison. (Grove, $24.) A 60-year-old cherry farmer and former English teacher — an inversion of the classic Harrison hero — sets out on a trip west after being dumped by his wife.
HIS ILLEGAL SELF. By Peter Carey. (Knopf, $25.) In this enthralling novel, a boy goes underground with a defiant hippie indulging her maternal urge.
HOME. By Marilynne Robinson. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) Revisiting the events of her novel “Gilead” from another perspective, Robinson has written an anguished pastoral, at once bitter and joyful.
TELEX FROM CUBA. By Rachel Kushner. (Scribner, $25.) In this multilayered first novel, inter national drifters try to bury pasts that include murder, adultery and neurotic meltdown, even as the Castro brothers gather revolutionaries in the hills.
2666. By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, cloth and paper, $30.) The five autonomous sections of this posthumously published novel interlock to form an astonishing whole, a supreme capstone to Bolaño’s vaulting ambition.
NETHERLAND. By Joseph O’Neill. (Pantheon, $23.95.) In the wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction yet about post-9/11 New York and London, the game of cricket provides solace to a man whose family disintegrates after the attacks.
THE OTHER. By David Guterson. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this novel from the author of “Snow Falling on Cedars,” a schoolteacher nourishes a friendship with a privileged recluse.
MODERN LIFE: Poems . By Matthea Harvey. (Graywolf, paper, $14.) Harvey is willing to take risks, and her reward is that richest, rarest thing, genuine poetry.
ELEGY: Poems. By Mary Jo Bang. (Graywolf, $20.) Grief is converted into art in this bleak, forthright collection, centered on the death of the poet’s son.
SLEEPING IT OFF IN RAPID CITY: Poems, New and Selected. By August Kleinzahler. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Kleinzahler seeks the true heart of places, whether repellent, beautiful or both at once.
HALF OF THE WORLD IN LIGHT: New and Selected Poems. By Juan Felipe Herrera. (University of Arizona, paper, $24.95.) Herrera, known for portrayals of Chicano life, is unpredictable and wildly inventive.
THE BIG SORT: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. By Bill Bishop with Robert G. Cushing. (Houghton Mifflin, $25.) A journalist and a statistician see political dangers in the country’s increasing tendency to separate into solipsistic blocs.
THE DARK SIDE: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. By Jane Mayer. (Doubleday, $27.50.) A New Yorker writer recounts the emergence of the widespread use of torture as a central tool in the fight against terrorism.
DESCARTES’ BONES: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason. By Russell Shorto. (Doubleday, $26.) Shorto’s smart, elegant study turns the early separation of Descartes’s skull from the rest of his remains into an irresistible metaphor.
THE DRUNKARD’S WALK: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. By Leonard Mlodinow. (Pantheon, $24.95.) This breezy crash course intersperses probabilistic mind-benders with profiles of theorists.
HOW FICTION WORKS. By James Wood. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24.)Concentrating on the art of the novel, the New Yorker critic presents a compact, erudite vade mecum with acute observations on individual passages and authors.
PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.By Dan Ariely. (Harper/HarperCollins, $25.95.) Moving comfortably from the lab to broad social questions to his own life, an M.I.T. economist pokes holes in conventional market theory.
THE RACE CARD: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse.By Richard Thompson Ford. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Ford vivisects every sacred cow in “post-racist” America.
A SECULAR AGE. By Charles Taylor. (Belknap/Harvard University, $39.95.) A philosophy professor thinks our era has been too quick to dismiss religious faith.
THE SUPERORGANISM: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies. By Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson. (Norton, $55.) The central conceit of this astonishing study is that an insect colony is a single animal raised to a higher level.
TRAFFIC: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us).By Tom Vanderbilt. (Knopf, $24.95.) A surprising, enlightening look at the psychology of the human beings behind the steering wheels.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Richard Jenkins for The Visitor
Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn for Milk
Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie for Changeling
Melissa Leo for Frozen River
Meryl Streep for Doubt
Kate Winslet for The Reader
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Josh Brolin for Milk
Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams for Doubt
Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis for Doubt
Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler
Best Achievement in Directing
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry for The Reader
David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant for Milk
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Courtney Hunt Frozen River
Mike Leigh Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonagh In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black Milk
Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter Wall E
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Eric Roth, Robin Swicord The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley Doubt
Peter Morgan Frost/Nixon
David Hare The Reader
Simon Beaufoy Slumdog Millionaire
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Tom Stern Changeling
Claudio Miranda The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Wally Pfister The Dark Knight
Roger Deakins, Chris Menges The Reader
Anthony Dod Mantle Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Kung Fu Panda
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (Germany)
Entre les murs (France)
Vals Im Bashir (Israel)
Best Documentary, Features
The Betrayal – Nerakhoon
Encounters at the End of the World
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water
The rest are what I consider the Junk Drawer Oscars and they are below: