A Year in Books, Americana, Bonnie Jo Campbell, C. Joseph Greaves, Cecelia Holland, Donna Tartt, Louise Erdrich, Lucy Caldwell, Madonna, Marjorie Celona, Pauline Boty, Richard Corman, Sarah Churchwell, The Goldfinch, The Round House
The time has come for bloggers like myself to make their ‘Best Of’ lists, and mine has more than a hint of Americana this year. But who knows what 2014 may bring?
1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. My favourite living author delivered her third novel after eleven years. It’s great, and I know I’ll be reading it over and over while I wait for her fourth. Bravo!
2. The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Another of my favourite writers returned in 2013 with her strongest work in years. Full review here.
3. Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman by Sue Tate. At last, a full retrospective for this great British painter, whose subjects included Marilyn Monroe and the Profumo Affair. This book accompanies the current exhibition at Pallant House, Chichester, and can also be ordered here.
4. Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell feminises the Western genre, depicting a young woman making her way in the wild. It has elements of nature writing, crime fiction and Homeric odyssey and is beautifully written.
5. All the Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell is a moving, well-crafted novel about family and betrayal, which more than lives up to its poetic title. As well as looking at the nature of loss and the possibility of redemption, it is also a meditation on the power of writing.
6. Hard Twisted by C. Joseph Greaves is based upon the true story of a drifter who draws a young girl into his web, and goes on the run, all set in Depression era America. The sheer quality of Greaves’ research and writing elevates it beyond historical pastiche.
7. Y: A Novel by Marjoria Celona is a very impressive debut from Canada. The writing has a visionary quality, but is grounded in reality. It reminded me slightly of Louise Erdrich’s work, and I can’t wait to see how this author develops.
8. Careless People by Sarah Churchwell is a stunning look at the diverse influences behind the creation of The Great Gatsby. Written with an elegance and wit that would surely delight Fitzgerald, Careless People shows that literary criticism can still be an art form in its own right. Full review here.
9. Lincoln’s Little Girl by Cecelia Holland is a long short story for Kindle, based on Julia Taft’s memories of visiting Lincoln and his family in the White House as a young girl. It covers the first year of the Civil War and is beautifully drawn.
10. Madonna NYC 83 by Richard Corman captures the nascent pop goddess at her most unspoiled, on the brink of stardom in a pre-gentrified New York. View a selection of Corman’s photos here.