Feel like I skimmed or stopped more books this year than I actually read. I had some noble attempts, stuff like Underworld by Don Delillo (made it halfway through before I learned you’re only supposed to read the 1st chapter), Speedboat by Renata Adler (remember the spring fever pitch to this one?), The Man With a Golden Arm by Nelson Algren (I enjoyed his book on writing more), and Light Years by James Salter (but bro, can he write a sentence!!!).
Those were older, but I tried some of the high profile duds too like Night Film by Marisha Pessl (why did I ask around for the galley?), Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem (workshopped to death without actually ever being workshopped), and Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (ok, I didn’t give up on this, but I read 5 pages and stopped, I’ll give it another try, I WANT to be the person who likes Pynchon).
Ok, so what did I like?
Basically small works.
Something like Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan, a paperback edition that bends and folds but still looks respectable. And everything flies fast, vibrant and quick and skittering, like the squirrels running away from my dogs. All this to say I’m holding onto Hill William (also out this year), letting it gestate, waiting until just the right moment — because honestly I’m not ready for that type of explosion again.
Something like Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff, who talks about the way we live now. I can’t tell if he’s who we’ll be quoting instead of Marshall McLuhan in 20 years or if he’s just Marshall McLuhan remixed. Either way, everything is short now.
Something like the short stories of Joy Williams.
Something like Flimsy Plastic Little Miracles, a torrid glee spree of self destruction and writerly obsession about how a writer’s life should go.
Something like Bluebird and Other Tattoos, by Luna Miguel. She’s a Spanish ‘alt lit’ poet that looks like porcelain but rips up whatever notions you have of a word I used earlier in this sentence. Her writing is more beautiful than anything in the “Bound 2” video.
Something like the “Bound 2” video and by “something like” I mean the Franco/Rogen “Bound 3” video.
Josh Spilker is the founder of I AM ALT LIT and the author of Ambient Florida Position (Kuboa House, 2011). He’s also a semi-regular contributor to Volume 1 Brooklyn.