This week, I'll post some reviews from my booklist for 2010. Want to contribute to the year-end zeitgeist. When I post lists like this, though, it's books I've read this year, rather than books necessarily published this year.
Over the course of the decade, I've herky-jerkily reversed my proportions of fiction versus non-fiction. I don't know why. There has been no campaign at work here; it may just reflect evolving interests.
I may be getting charitable in my old age, but I only read one book this year that I would not recommend to others. And there may be audiences for this book. Misanthropic book clubs, perhaps? Herewith, my review:
If a surfeit of hope and cheer distresses you, read Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk's 2007 set of eventually-linked short stories about suburban English housewives. A bleakness runs through these closely told lives. Cusk is a very good writer and creates a world, which is what we seek in fiction, right? The problem is that in the world she creates, there's not much to hope for. She does capture that period of parenthood when the children are very small and so very dependent that achieving one thing in a day feels like a triumph. I can see why The Atlantic recommended this novel (?); the characters run more in parallel, drawn together by the place they inhabit than really sharing lives and interacting with each other. It may be worth reading, but reader be warned: the book should come with a script for Prozac. It's not that anything awful happens; it's just that the sum total of the place where these people have arrived strikes them as so awful.
4 months ago