In which Netty weighs in with her Top 12 ANRC offerings for 2011 …

January 11, 2012

You know the drill by now. So without further ado, let’s go:

12. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

Now, admittedly, this is no Rabbit Run, or Melancholy Whores. It’s not even on a par with Malouf’s deeply disappointing Johnno. It’s simply the literary equivalent of some scruffy teen, hands thrust into pockets, shrugging his shoulders. Nyeh, meh, whateves …

11. I Play The Drums In A Band Called Okay – Toby Litt

Instead of reading about the life and times of a fictional drummer called Clap, I can’t help but think my time would have been better spent reading about the life and times of a real drummer. Keith Moon. John Bonham. Phil Collins. Hold on, how did he get on the list? 

10. Love Poems – Dorothy Porter

This posthumous collection of poems, lyrics and excerpts from verse novels is a good starting point for anyone interested in exploring Porter’s passion with women and words. That it clocks in at No. 10 on this list is only because I liked the nine books above it better.

9. Lovesong – Alex Miller

Miller’s phoenix-rises-from-the-ashes love story of Australian ex-pat John and his Tunisian bride Sabiha, as related by aging writer Ken, is an elegant novel beautifully showcasing the complexity and vulnerability of relationships. Most notably including that of the narrator himself.  

8. The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter

Carter’s highly original take on the fairytale formula charts the nightmarish journey of newly orphaned teenager Melanie into a new life with her machiavellian uncle and his family, who live in a closeted world teetering on the brink of madness. Definitely one out of the box.

7. The Birthday Party – Harold Pinter

The only thing that could be better than reading English playwright extraordinaire Pinter’s masterful “comedy of menace” – with its memorable characters and unforgettable plot – would be seeing it live on the boards. Ah, one day, perhaps …

6. Neuromancer – William Gibson

Possibly the cyberpunk touchstone, a rollicking roller-coaster of a book that was nothing short of a revelation for me. Gibson tempted me with the plot, kept me there with the writing and, finally, made me wonder if I could, at long last, learn to love sci-fi.

5. The Complete Stories – Flannery O’Connor

American writer O’Connor’s remarkable body of work consists of these multitudes of short stories steeped in the southern gothic tradition. Grim and gritty, bleak and black, powerful and poignant. Definitely one of the 20th-century’s must-read writers.

4. My Name Is Red – Orhan Pamuk

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Pamuk’s 15th-century opus of the Ottoman Empire is part historical fiction, part murder mystery, part love story and all essential read. Magnificently written fiction that puts others in the shade.

3. The Collected Stories – Lorrie Moore

At the time, I wondered out loud if Canadian writer Moore was the “female Carver”, so impressed was I by this thumping doorstopper of a collection, chock-full of brilliant little gems. And while I’m still not convinced that she is, nor am I entirely ruling it out, either.

2. Falling Man – Don DeLillo

Quite simply, the best novel I read last year. DeLillo is an exquisite writer, and this is near-perfect in its composition – poignant and poetic, heartbreaking and heroic. Also an unparalleled addition to the small cache of fiction that has arisen in the wake of 9-11. 

1. The White Album – Joan Didion

So you want to be a journalist? First up, go read this. And then, when you have finally finished weeping into your Wheaties, go back to the drawing board. After all, there’s plenty of other careers out there …

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