Author's Choice

More lists

Literary Saloon gives a Dutch list of the best books of the decade

And the Guardian gives us a list of authors' favorite books of the decade

What is interesting here is to see Jonathan Franzen's entertaining, but hardly magnificent The Corrections set amongst first class works such as Atonement, The Plot Against America, and Snow.  Franzen's book was competent, well composed, entertaining, and unfortunately by the nature of what Mr. Franzen decided to do with the material utterly trivial.  The Plot Against America brought me back to Roth for the first time in decades and made me wonder what I had been missing. 

Also notable is the presence of The Kindly Ones on this list.  A highly controversial work, I started it once and got about 50 pages into it before I decided that I needed to table it and wait until I had the leisure to devote to it and really read through it.  It is decidedly not a book to be consumed in 5 to 10 page segments throughout a day, week, month.

I was also interested to see Out Stealing Horses, a book I just recently picked up, on the Guardian List.  As well, it is notable that The Road made the Guardian list of favorite twice.  I don't think The Road would be my favorite, though I suspect that it would be in the top five.  For me, if I had to choose one book, and I'm not quite certain of the copyright, so I may be out of the Decade a little, I'd choose A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  On the other hand, were I to choose my favorite book that I've read in the past 10 years, it would likely be The Golden Bowl by Henry James.  Each is, in its own way, a book of fine and elaborated complexities.  The manifestation of these complexities is different and to different purpose--but The Golden Bowl still transfixes me with images of faces swimming out of a ghostly dark--my impression while reading it was that only Ingmar Bergman could do it justice were it to be filmed.  If I can find it again, Edith Wharton's reaction to The Golden Bowl is priceless, and nicely summarized my own bemusement upon finishing.  But it is a book that grows powerfully in the memory and powerfully in the reconsideration of it.


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