I was going to write a post about my top reads of 2011 but a quick glance at my goodreads 2011 bookshelf reveals that I have read very few books that were released this year. Of the 31 books I read only five were. This is how my reading tends to go, I am constantly trying to catch up on an ever growing pile of books. If I read a lot of contemporary stuff I then feel like I ought to read something classic, and vice versa. So I guess for a full run-down of my favourite books of the year you should come back next year. Undeterred though I am going to announce my favourite book of the year. I will buck the traditional literary award method and skip the long-list as it would inevitably involve every book I read this year and still not be long and just skip to the end and reveal the winner. My 2011 read of the year is;
The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman
To demonstrate how much I enjoyed it, this book is the only book I have bothered to review on Amazon. You can follow the link above to see my slightly pretentious review. I read it in one sitting, early one Saturday morning before I even ate my breakfast. It is even shorter than The Sense of an Ending, and the length of that one got a lot of people wondering how long a proper novel ought to be. And yet somehow this book still manages to feel sprawling. The scant detail given is like catching a momentary glimpse of something, or peering through a keyhole and only seeing a little of what is inside. In 80 odd pages Kaufman manages to tell a story and take time to explore some of the side avenues that branch away from it. He does this with a kind of confident brevity, by just telling you something plainly and not bothering trying to explain it or justify it. It doesn’t matter how these things happened, simply that they did happen. In the way of magic realism, you can render the magical as real and the real as magical simply by treating them as such.
So if you only read one very short, illustrated, allegorical fairy tale in 2012, make it this one.
And just to pitch in on the the whole Sense of an Ending, how-long-is-a-novel discussion; as long as it needs to be to tell the story the way it wants to be told. I’m just not convinced that a longer version of The Tiny Wife would be any better than it already is.
As for how my writing went in 2011, I started the year by finishing the first draft of my novel and spent most of it working on further drafts and polishes. I took an elongated break in the middle because the process of fixing it up was becoming so frustrating. During that time I wrote my e-book of short stories and then, once that was complete, went back to the novel and worked on it some more. I finally have a first chapter I am satisfied with. I have selected my first group of agents to whom I will be sending it and that is my project for the new year. Once those first agency submissions are made I am going to start on the next novel. Something I have been building toward for a while now, and am really looking forward to getting going on it in the new year.
My plan for next year is to write more about the books I read, this year I have a taken a more scattershot approach to writing on here. I always wanted it to be about whatever I felt like writing at any one time. Going through the different search phrases people have used to find their way here quite a few have just been looking for advice on how to make good chutney and to those people I can only apologise.