A Year in Reading: Kyle Minor

December 16, 2008 | 11 books mentioned 2

Kyle Minor is the author of In the Devil’s Territory, a collection of short stories. His recent work appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2008, Surreal South, and Random House’s Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers anthology.

Five books that knocked the top of my head off in 2008:

cover1. Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock – Eighteen wild and wooly stories from southern Ohio, in which a lifetime’s experience is distilled to nine or twelve pages of the most thrilling sentences I’ve ever read. If you liked Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son, Barry Hannah’s Airships, or Mark Richard’s Charity, Knockemstiff is the book for you.

2. The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard, by Erin McGraw – The elegance here is Flaubertian, the prose flawless, and the story (loosely based upon the true story of McGraw’s disappeared-then-reappeared grandmother) is every bit as thrilling as anything Stephen King will serve up this year.

3. Sabbath’s Theater, by Philip Roth – The best comic novel from the best comic novelist in America.

4. American Pastoral, by Philip Roth – The best serious novel from the best serious novelist in America.

5. Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, by Scott Berg – A biography of Maxwell Perkins, the legendary editor who held the hands of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, as they made their way together from obscurity toward literary permanence. I can’t imagine this book thrilled any reader in 1978, the year of its release, any more than it thrilled me thirty years later.

More from A Year in Reading 2008

is the author of In the Devil's Territory, a collection of short stories. His recent work appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2008, Surreal South, and Random House's Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers anthology.

2 comments:

  1. knockemstiff was good but it's no jesus' son, airships or charity. can we stop grouping books just because narrators and stories have to do with people down on their luck or people at the fringes? airships, jesus' son and charity all have a sort of lyricism that's lacking in knockemstiff. once again, knockemstiff is good but not at the level of those other books, let's be real.

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