The National Book Critics Circle winners have been announced. The big winner, of course, is Kiran Desai who follows up her Booker win with another big prize for her mantle. Here they are, with excerpts:Fiction: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai – excerptNon-Fiction: Rough Crossings by Simon Schama – excerptAutobiography: The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn – excerptBiography: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips – excerptPoetry: Tom Thomson In Purgatory by Troy Jollimore – poemCriticism: Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences by Lawrence Weschler – excerptSee also: More details at the NBCC blog.
My good friend Edan got married this year (to Millions contributor Patrick no less), got published in the LA Times West Magazine, and taught her own fiction workshop. She’s also one of the gang I worked with at Book Soup in Los Angeles, where she regularly wowed customers with her literary knowledge. In spite of being enviably well-read, Edan has once again gone the cookbook route for our year end series, as is her wont:Since ALL of my favorite books of 2006 – The Echo Maker by Richard Powers; Everything that Rises by Lawrence Weschler; and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan – have already been sufficiently lauded by other Millions contributors, I figured I’d instead sing the praises of one cookbook:Brunch: 100 Recipes from Five Points Restaurant by Marc Meyer and Peter Meehan I purchased this fabulous book for my husband, who seems to have conquered the kitchen on Sunday mornings because I can’t, just can’t, rise before ten. It’s easy to get into a scrambled eggs-and-potatoes breakfast rut, but this book, with recipes for Bourbon Vanilla French Toast, Ricotta Fritters, Asparagus and Artichoke Baked Eggs and Applesauce Muffins (among 96 others), ensures amazing spreads each time. The book has lovely, drool-inducing photographs for motivation, and chef Marc Meyers (5 Points, I’ve learned, is a well-known NYC restaurant), urges us to make more bacon “than you think you want (or than you think you should eat).” Bless this man.Thanks Edan!
Mark Sarvas, proprietor of The Elegant Variation, takes some time to share the books he read in 2006 that he found, shall we say, most to his liking. First off, the more I think about it, the less I care for the whole “Best of” formulation. It offends me on a number of levels, not the least of which is by the assumption that one has read enough of what’s on offer in a year to be able to decide what’s “Best”. (And this is no knock on this inestimable blog; rather, it’s a systemic crankiness that’s afflicting me this year.) So I’m going to come instead from the perspective of “My Favorites of the Year,” which seems more inherently more defensible. (And, in an open note to newspaper editors everywhere, why not opt for the more modest construction “Editor’s Choice” or “Editor’s Favorite”? It seems preferable to the untenably pompous “Best of” declarations that have becomede rigeur.)OK. End of my mini-rant. A list, in alphabetical order, of books thatstruck me as being of particular note in 2006:Amphigorey Again by Edward Gorey: What will probably be the last collection from a master.Black Swan Green: David Mitchell proves he can do “human” as well as “clever” with a breakthrough novel.Christine Falls: It will only be available in the US next year, but John Banville’s first thriller as Benjamin Black is drawing deserved praise forits UK release.Dead Fish Museum by Charles D’Ambrosio: The best short story collection we’ve read in years. Breathtaking.The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas: Flawed but exuberant, it’s a Foucault’s Pendulum for the iPod generation.Everything that Rises: Lawrence Weschler’s brilliant John Berger-esque collection of essays on unlikely visual convergences.Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: The graphic novel that finally won me over to the form.The Lost: Daniel Mendelsohn’s brilliantly written memoir answers those who ask if there’s anything left to write about the Holocaust.The Mystery Guest by Gregoire Bouillier, translated by Lorin Stein: A delicious Gallic treat, depicting the party from hell and explaining what every man should know about turtleneck sweaters.Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris: OK, this one is a cheat – it’s not out until March of next year but this hilarious and gorgeously written novel might just change my mind about MFAs.Ticknor by Sheila Heti: If there’s a favorite of the year, this bitter comedy of envy and failure would be the one.Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon: It’s not from this year but I only just caught up with it and can see what the fuss was about.Thanks Mark!