Best Books of 2008 (sez me)

My friends over at Readerville are all posting their Best Books of 2008 and I just jumped in myself. These aren’t books published in 2008 necessarily (though some are).

So it turned out I liked quite a lot of books this year, although it was still difficult to rate them. I tried to remember which ones I talked about the most. The first is really #1, but after that?

1. Lush Life, Richard Price. I enjoyed the hell out of this and it had something on its mind. I love the way Price’s characters talk. It may be less interesting to a non-New Yorker; it was the culminating third in a set of New York Neighborhood books for me.

2. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon. Hey, I could say pretty much the same about this book, except the neighborhood is in Alaska.

3. De Niro’s Game, Rawi Hage. Powerful, tragic, a look at a difficult mind from the inside.

4. The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson. A great true-life detective tale.

5. The Sorrows of an American, Siri Hustvedt.

6. Shining at the Bottom of the Sea, Stephen Marche. Strikingly inventive.

7. The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, Daniel Mendelsohn. Another kind of true detective tale.

8. The Children’s Hospital, Chris Adrian. One doesn’t read many parables nowadays. Fortunately it was interesting enough to disguise the parabilishness.

9. Netherland, Joseph O’Neill.

10. A Man of No Moon, Jenny McPhee; or Jenny and the Jaws of Life, Jincy Willett; or Founding Faith, Steven Waldman [what’s with all the Steph/vens?]; or Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints, Joan Acocella; or Blood Kin, Ceridwen Dovey; or The Pathseeker, Imre Kertesz; or Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking, Aiobheann Sweeney; or The Mind of a Mnemonist, A.R. Luria; or Crooked Little Vein, Warren Ellis; or The Indian Clerk, David Leavitt; or A Golden Age, Tahmina Anan; or All Shall Be Well and All Shall Be Well . . . , Tod Wodicka; or Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman; or The Successor, Ismail Kadare, all of which are fine and intriguing in one way or another.

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