The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems (Southern Messenger Poets)

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A Year in Reading: David Shields

Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist (there are passages in this book that I love as much as anything Baker has ever written–which is saying something)

Grégoire Bouillier, The Mystery Guest (I reread this book seemingly monthly, attempting–futilely–to figure out how he managed this brief, perfect magic trick.)

Joe Brainard, I Remember (I’m very late to the party on this book, but it’s an extraordinary assemblage of seemingly unconnected–in fact, profoundly interconnected–sentences)

Albert Camus, The Fall (see The Mystery Guest)

Robert Clark, The Angel of Doubt (an as yet unpublished manuscript; a gorgeously written, deeply felt, and relentlessly smart sequence of intereconnected essays about religion, art, and sex, not necessarily in that order)

Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave (see The Mystery Guest)

John D’Agata, About a Mountain (a beautiful embodiment of what is to me a
central principle of great nonfiction: it’s not remotely about what it purports to be about)

Amy Fusselman, The Pharmacist’s Mate (see The Mystery Guest)

Simon Gray, The Smoking Diaries (4 volumes of diaries; read together, they dwarf his plays and are commensurate, I swear to god, with Proust)

Spalding Gray, Morning, Noon, and Night (see The Mystery Guest)

David Kirby, The House on Boulevard Street (very late to the party on Kirby, too; I love his work; “poetry as well-written as prose,” as good ole Ez said)

Phillip Lopate, Notes on Sontag (I disagree with Lopate’s assessment–in my view, too generous–but I love the book)

Sarah Manguso, The Two Kinds of Decay (one of the least sentimental and most deeply emotional books I’ve ever read)

Alphonse Daudet, In the Land of Pain (see above)

Maggie Nelson, Bluets (utterly brilliant)

Brevity: Blaise Pascal, Pensées; Don Patterson, Best Thought, Worst Thought; François Le Rochefoucauld, Maxims

Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima Mon Amour (the screenplay; the best book she ever wrote)

Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (where it all started and ended)

More from A Year in Reading

2007 National Book Award Finalists Announced

This year’s National Book Award finalists have been announced. In the fiction category, the big name is Denis Johnson, who immediately becomes the presumptive favorite for his novel Tree of Smoke. Joshua Ferris, meanwhile, makes a splash with his debut effort Then We Came to the End. And in the nonfiction category, let’s not ignore “The Hitch.” Not making the cut are notable novelists like Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Jane Smiley, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Don Delillo, Junot Diaz, and Richard Russo. Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available:Fiction:Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (excerpts)Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis (briefly noted)Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (excerpt, a favorite of TEV’s, a “most anticipated” book)Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (excerpt, a “most anticipated” book)Like You’d Understand, Anyway by Jim Shepard (excerpt, Apparently, Shepard’s publisher forgot to submit his books for NBA consideration in 2004)Nonfiction:Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat (excerpt)God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens (excerpt, Atheism Hits the Bestseller ListUnruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution by Woody Holton (excerpt)Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad (excerpt)Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner (excerpt)Poetry:Magnetic North by Linda Gregerson (excerpt)Time and Materials by Robert Hass (poem)The House on Boulevard St. by David Kirby (excerpt, Kirby’s colorful website)Old Heart by Stanley Plumly (excerpt)Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006 by Ellen Bryant Voigt (poem)Young People’s Literature:The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (excerpt)Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One by Kathleen Duey (excerpt)Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin (excerpt)The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (excerpt)Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr (author blog)

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