Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of 2011 Countdown: #4

You know what's insane about working for a publisher?  I already have a few contenders for the #1 book of 2012.  It's exciting, but I never know what the actual month is since I'm almost always reading books that go on sale six (or more) months later.  Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, here are our #4 picks for 2011.


Bright's Passage
Josh Ritter
The Dial Press/Random House

Well some reviews are so perfect, so professional, and so artistic, that you can’t expand on it. I offer to you my original post about my #4 book on our list, Bright’s Passage by Josh Ritter. If you are familiar at all with Ritter's music you won't be at all surprised at how wonderful this book is. If you aren't familiar with Josh Ritter the musician you are really missing out; he is widely considered to be one of our best songwriters at work today. My original post:

Josh Ritter
I love this fucking book. (And let that be a quote on any jacket – it's called "class"). I read this book in a fury of passion. I would not put it down; everything else could wait. The story of Henry Bright (and what can only be described as his journey) is so vivid, beautiful, funny, and passionate…ahhh, I sound crazy already. Anyway, it will stay with you long after the novel ends. It is as haunting, as it is luminous (and Liz…. I never say that about a book do I? In fact when someone calls a book luminous I run, but don’t run because I never use that word!) [We make fun of people who use the word 'luminous' to describe books.  Does it glow in the dark?  Doubtful.  This is a very good book though.] This small book has so much going for it: set during the First World War, a battle between good and evil, it's only $22, and of course it's a love story. It’s a first novel to be sure, but my God what a wonderful novel.

Rainn Wilson, Mary Louise Parker,  and Glen Hansard (among others) reading from Bright's Passage:


The Devil All the Time
Donald Ray Pollock

Gianna's already included The Devil All the Time, but obviously she should have ranked it much higher.  I guarantee that this is the absolute best novel ever written by a former paper mill worker.  It's Chuck Palahniuk without the goofy Chuck shtick, it's Flannery O'Connor on steroids, it's a cousin of Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply and Philipp Meyers' American Rust.  It the Pulitzer Prize committee had the huevos to choose a book that is populated with rapists, killers, religious zealots and LOTS of darkness, The Devil All the Time could absolutely win.

Donald Ray Pollock
The story revolves around a father and son coping with the dying mother in their little nuclear grouping.  The father convinces the son that if they pray long enough, faithfully enough, crazily enough (complete with the sacrifices and ritual abuses), his mother will survive.  The world, of course, doesn't work that way.  This is a book of broken dreams and pain, and one of survival.  It's a beautiful book; it's also the most violent fiction I've ever read.  The Devil All the Time isn't for the faint of heart, but I can't sing its' praises enough.

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