A Year in Reading: Teddy Wayne

December 16, 2013 | 3 books mentioned

covercoverOne of the best novels I’ve read in a long time is Eric Lundgren’s debut, The Facades. It’s hugely imaginative, brilliantly written, funny, and sad. What else would you want from a novel? I can’t improve upon this New Yorker review of it, so I’ll link to that.

For nonfiction, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, about the mass incarceration of men of color, was eye-opening in its synoptic analysis of how predatory and ruthless the entire criminal justice system is, from the War on Drugs to the near-impossibility of repairing one’s life as an ex-convict. It’s also extremely accessible; Alexander avoids sociological and academic jargon in her swift, upsetting, and important book.

coverI don’t read much poetry, but I’m glad I read Caki Wilkinson’s Circles Where the Head Should Be: it’s completely unpretentious yet lyrically gorgeous, wry, and plaintive, and about subjects as varied as basketball and TV weathermen.

Her second collection, tentatively titled Wynona Stone, comes out in 2014, and follows the titular fictional character. An example:

The plot unfolds, backwater roman-fleuve:

hand-shaking husbands, wives who say make love

as in “When Doug and I were making love,”

or “Doug made love to me,” or “Doug, that love

we made was really something.”

It promises, like her first book, to be really something, as well.

More from A Year in Reading 2013

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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is the author of the novels Loner, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, and Kapitoil. He writes the Future Tense column for The New York Times.

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