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Steven Millhauser: “Getting Closer”

In 2009, after reading all of the fiction in The New Yorker, I posted one massive year-in-review post with very brief thoughts about each story.  In 2010, I posted an individual page for each story (though with one main index page), which allowed me to write more and also allowed…

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Eric Siblin: The Cello Suites

I’m no musician.  When it comes to classical music, I’m a slight dabbler.  Still, some of my favorite aesthetic experiences have revolved around classical music.  I remember once in college going to see a a Russian woodwind quintet, who was performing at the college later that evening, giving brief lessons to…

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Ron Hansen: Mariette in Ecstasy

I have not before read anything by Ron Hansen, though the premises of his novels intrigue me, particularly the two about nuns: Exiles, which tells the story of five nuns who drowned at sea in 1875 and who inspired Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” and Mariette in Ecstasy (1991), perhaps Hansen’s…

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Brian Moore: Lies of Silence

Brian Moore’s creepy book The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne found its way on my best of 2010 list, and it had one of my favorite covers of the year.  For some time I’ve wanted to read Moore’s Lies of Silence (1990), often cited as one of the only —…

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Penelope Fitzgerald: The Bookshop

After I read Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker-winning Offshore, I realized I would have to read every book she published in that short but prolific burst of energy she displayed in the last twenty years of her life.  I still can’t get over it: her first four books in four years (including…

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George Saunders: “Escape from Spiderhead”

Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage. George Saunders’ “Escape from Spiderhead” was originally published in the December 20 & 27, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. I love reading George Saunders, so I’m glad The New Yorker‘s 2010 year of fiction is…

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2010 Top Ten Twelve

This year I tried to limit my list to ten books, but I couldn’t decide which two of the following books should go: here are my top twelve books of the year.  I had no trouble deciding which two were my favorites.  They are listed at the bottom. It was…

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Buddhadeva Bose: My Kind of Girl

One of the best things I did last January was subscribe to Archipelago Books.  I have been the happy recipient of one of their beautifully produced new books nearly every month.  I had heard of none of the books before receiving it, and each made me giddy at the prospect…

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Nuruddin Farah: “Youngthing”

Click here to read the abstract of the story on The New Yorker webpage (this week’s story is available only for subscribers). Nuruddin Farah’s “Youngthing” was originally published in the December 13, 2010 issue of The New Yorker. I haven’t read this story yet, but please feel free to comment…

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Damon Galgut: The Good Doctor

As happy as I was to see Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question win this years Man Booker Prize, my personal choice was Damon Galgut’s In a Strange Room.  Still, it was a tremendous Booker year for me; both Jacobson and Galgut impressed me enough that I have since tried to acquire most anything they’ve…

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Horacio Castellanos Moya: Senselessness

For obvious reasons, the title Senselessness (Insensatez, 2004; tr. from the Spanish by Katherine Silver) reminded me of Imre Kertész’s Fatelessness, a book about a young Hungarian boy who becomes a prisoner in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.  Senselessness, in part, contains the chronicles of a population that was tortured and nearly eliminated.  Castellanos Moya’s…