The holidays are upon us, and I suspect that many of the folks reading this will be cutting out early this week. I think I’ll do the same, so don’t expect much in this space until 2005. I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy the year end extravaganza. It was great fun seeing what everyone read this year. I’ll leave you with a couple of late additions and addenda before sending you off to your holiday jollification.Dan Wickett, proprietor of the Emerging Writers Network, previously gave us his Emerging Best of 2004, but he recently wrote in with some more of his personal favorites from this year. Novel: Steve Yarbrough – Prisoners of War; George Garrett – Double VisionShort Story Collections: Aaron Gwyn – Dog on the Cross; Percival Everett – Damned If I DoPoetry Collections: Beth Ann Fennelly – Tender Hooks; David Huddle – GrayscaleNon-Fiction: Steve Almond – Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America; Owen Gingerich – The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus CopernicusAnd last week, Brian shared with us his thoughts on a couple of books he enjoyed this year, but he couldn’t let me close things out without posting this:Chronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob Dylan: I lived in mortal fear that the genius of Bob Dylan – lyrically, melodically, and just plain cool-as-a-motherfuckerally – wouldn’t translate to prose. Naw, nothing to worry about. His book reads like nothing else: a smashed-up collage of history, (auto)biography, anecdote, music criticism, politics, fiction, lies, truth, and more. Dylan hangs with Chinese philosophers, New York playwrights, John Wilkes Booth(!!!), Tiny Tim, John Wayne, Gorgeous George, Bono, and, in my favorite scene in the book, during an early 60’s freezing cold NYC day, within the confines of a friend’s crash-pad, a teenaged Dylan skims through a wall of books and loses himself in ancient Greece, the Napoleonic wars, the Civil War, etc… a badass rootin-tootin’ tale of America(na) told through the eyes of one of its greatest (and most eccentric) poets.Now that sounds pretty good! Enjoy the holiday everyone. Coming after the break: a new installment from Millions contributor Andrew, the introduction of two brand new Millions contributors, my year in reading, and, yes, much, much more.
When I posted the CS Monitor “best of” list the other day, I mentioned how it seemed that this year there weren’t many young, exciting writers grabbing headlines from the established old guard. Dan Wickett, proprietor of The Emerging Writers Network left a comment recommending several young writers who deserve to be on some of these “best of” lists. He also sent me an email with even more titles. They seem like a good bunch of books to explore, so I thought I’d reprint them here:Dog on the Cross by Aaron Gwyn – excellent short story collection from Algonquin. He’s currently finishing up debut novel about a tattoo removal artist.Another Perfect Catastrophe – Brad Barkley – another excellent short story collection, his second to go with two novels.The Book of Ralph (excerpt) – John McNally – a very good novel. When Mitch Albom was choosing a book for The Today Show book club, he announced this was a close second (He chose Andrew Sean Greer’s novel).Under Cottonwoods (excerpt) by Stephen Grace – an excellent debut novel put out by Lyons Press.Poe & Fanny (FAQs) by John May – another Algonquin effort – May’s debut about the year that Poe wrote “The Raven.” Excellent.D.B. (excerpt) by Elwood Reid – his third novel, but he’s still under 40 years old.Prisoners of War (excerpt) by Steve Yarbrough. An author who should be considered one of the old guard – he writes rings around most of them. His other two novels and three short story collections were excellent but this was really top notch.Plain Heathen Mischief (excerpt) by Martin Clark. This southern judge pens his second exciting literary thriller of sorts.American Desert by Percival Everett. With only his 15th novel (to go with two short story collections and the other novel he co-wrote and published this year and a children’s storybook) Everett finally seems to be garnering both critical notice, and getting more than one copy of his latest book to be carried by the Detroit area Borders and Barnes and Nobles.Welcome to the Fallen Paradise by Dayne Sherman. Published towards the end of the year by MacAdam/Cage. His debut – reminiscent of the novels of Tom Franklin or William Gay.About Grace (excerpt) by Anthony Doerr. The debut novel by the author of The Shell Collector, which won about every literary award it was up for two years ago and is still spawning O’Henry Award winners.The Green Age Of Asher Witherow by M. Allen Cunningham. This 26 year old’s debut began its life as the number one choice of Booksense 76. Not bad. It was deserved.Animal Crackers (excerpt) by Hannah Tinti – This short story collection by the editor of One Story won well deserved rave reviews in many, many papers. She’s also sold her debut novel to be published some time in the next year or so.Non-Fiction:Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn. The advance news on this was so high that they ran out of galleys. It’s received nothing but rave reviews since. As well as Flynn writes poetry, this memoir might just top it.