Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Publisher's Weekly: Best Books 2007

This is the first of many best of lists sure to come in the next two months. At least this one is useful, suggesting some good titles to read that we may have missed during the year.

Here are only a couple of sections (of interest to me):

It's the end of the year—almost. A time for reflection, before the resolutions of 2008 send us all scrambling once again. So what did we read this year that kept us up at night, broke our hearts, opened our minds, made us fall in love? Three thousand books are published daily in the U.S., and PW reviewed more than 6,000 of them in 2007, in print and online. From that astounding number, we've culled a best books list covering our favorites in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, comics, religion, lifestyle and children's—150 in all. Some we've selected, such as Tree of Smoke, Fieldwork, Brother, I'm Dying and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, are up for National Book Awards; others have been blessed by Oprah (The Secret) or are a testament to DNA (Heart-Shaped Box). Some made us think about the music of the past (Can't Buy Me Love; Coltrane) or shiver in our boots (Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA); some, to paraphrase Kafka, just broke that frozen sea inside us.

* * * * *

Call Me by Your Name
André Aciman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This tender, gay coming-of-age novel set in an Italian palazzo exquisitely renders first love on the Riviera.
Mischa Berlinski (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This first novel about an anthropology student in northern Thailand who “goes native” has it all: story, mystery characters, suspense, resolution.
The Savage Detectives
Roberto Bolaño (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Chilean-born novelist Bolaño (1953–2003), beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, deliriously tracks Mexico City poets Arturo Belano (Bolaño's alter ego) and Ulysses Lima as they travel the globe over 20-plus years.
The Tin Roof Blowdown
James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath provide the backdrop for an account of sin and redemption in New Orleans in Burke's 16th Dave Robicheaux novel.
Falling Man
Don DeLillo (Scribner)
DeLillo's 9/11 novel captures with breathtaking force the numbness and inchoate rage that followed the attacks.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz (Riverhead)
Díaz's fierce, funny and tragic first novel, starring a sci-fi-and-fantasy–gobbling nerd-hero, is just what readers have held out for since Drown.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid (Harcourt)
Hamid's intelligent war on terror novel is written from the perspective of a young Pakistani whose sympathies, despite his fervid immigrant embrace of America, lie with the attackers.
Returning to Earth
Jim Harrison (Grove)
This gorgeous novel of an early death spirals into a wrenching saga set in Upper Michigan, as grief grips a family.
The Chicago Way
Michael Harvey (Knopf)
Harvey's debut thriller spins a twisted story in which the line between cops and criminals becomes dangerously blurred; the author combines the sardonic wit of Chandler with the gritty violence of Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro series.
Heart-Shaped Box
Joe Hill (Morrow)
A particularly merciless ghost goes on the rampage in this debut supernatural thriller from the son of Stephen King.
The Archivist's Story
Travis Holland (Dial)
Set in 1939 Moscow, the story of a disgraced literature professor who's in charge of destroying anti-Soviet writings and decides to save an unfinished manuscript of Isaac Babel's captures the mood and realities of life in Soviet Russia.
Body of Lies
David Ignatius (Norton)
One of the best post-9/11 thrillers yet, this highly elaborate novel tells the story of an idealistic CIA officer stationed in Jordan after being wounded in Iraq.
Tree of Smoke
Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Is it the ultimate Vietnam novel? Very likely. A terrifying epic that revolves around a murky intelligence operation.
Bowl of Cherries
Maynard Kaufman (McSweeney's)
The bawdy, original coming-of-age debut from the nonagenarian creator of Mr. Magoo has a delicious screwball sensibility.
What the Dead Know
Laura Lippman (Morrow)
In this outstanding stand-alone thriller, a driver who flees a car accident breathes new life into a 30-year-old mystery—the disappearance of two young sisters at a shopping mall—when she tells the police she's one of the missing girls.
The Complete Stories
David Malouf (Pantheon)
Australia's stark landscapes are at the harsh, violent center of a career's worth of Malouf's fictions, where relationships enter uncharted territory.
Nathan McCall (Atria)
White people gentrify Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward—Martin Luther King Jr.'s parish—and things get very complicated and very ugly as real estate prices skyrocket along with tempers and resentments.
Tom McCarthy (Vintage)
In McCarthy's haunting fiction debut, a semi-amnesiac London everyman uses newfound wealth to re-enact his memories in exacting detail.
Be Near Me
Andrew O'Hagan (Harcourt)
A priest's tumultuous, late-career assumption of a Scottish parish yields a surprising love story with emotional resonance and intellectual power to spare, laying bare a lifetime's worth of compromise.
Jonathan Raban (Pantheon)
An air of suspenseful dread hangs over every page of this intelligent, provocative thriller, set in Seattle.
Matthew Sharpe (Soft Skull)
A warped piece of American deadpan, Sharpe's postapocalyptic reimagining of the Jamestown settlement is a tour-de-force of black humor.
The Secret Servant
Daniel Silva (Putnam)
In Silva's superlative seventh novel to feature Gabriel Allon, the Israeli intelligence agent looks into the assassination of a professor in Amsterdam who's a secret Israeli asset.
Beyond Reach
Karin Slaughter (Delacorte)
The unflinching portrayal of lives ruined by methamphetamine makes the latest in Slaughter's Grant County, Ga., crime series a timely and unsettling read.
White Walls: Collected Stories
Tatyana Tolstaya (NYRB)
Beautiful, imaginative and disconcerting, the Russia of Tolstoy's great-grandniece is a labyrinth of eras, treasures and horrors: past and present, shabby and brutal, magical and otherworldly.
The Shadow Catcher
Marianne Wiggins (Simon & Schuster)
A magnificently Sebald-like approach to fictionalizing the life of photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868–1952)—along with that of a woman named “Marianne Wiggins”—is suffused with crackling social commentary and breezy self-discovery.

* * * * *

Next Life
Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan)
A veteran experimentalist and pioneering language poet, Armantrout cements her status as an important if oblique moral voice in this mature collection.
Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)
Bang wrote this powerfully moving investigation of grief in the year after her adult son's death.
Time and Materials
Robert Hass (Ecco)
Former poet laureate Hass's first book in a decade finds him meditating on the grim state of the environment and humanity's self-destructive tendencies.
The Collected Poems
Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco)
The late Polish master made myths of the shards of a ravaged century. Finally, all of his work is available to English readers in one volume.
Green and Gray
Geoffrey G. O'Brien (Univ. of California)
A rising star and a uniquely subtle voice, O'Brien has crafted poems that both take a long view of American capitalism and scrutinize the ways words interact.

* * * * *

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943–1944
Rick Atkinson (Holt)
Atkinson surpasses his Pulitzer-winning An Army at Dawn with this empathetic, perceptive analysis of the second stage in the U.S. Army's grassroots development into the most formidable fighting force of WWII.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Ishmael Beah (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war surpasses the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare.
The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648–1815
Tim Blanning (Viking)
Blanning splendidly blends political events with social and intellectual history to trace the emergence of Europe as we know it today.
Photo by Sammy Davis Jr.
Burt Boyar (HarperEntertainment)
Davis biographer Boyar offers this collection of beautiful archival snapshots taken by Sammy Davis Jr., beginning in the early 1950s.
Brother, I'm Dying
Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)
Danticat's memoir recalls how a family adapted and reorganized itself over and over, enduring and succeeding to remain kindred in spite of living apart.
The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945
Saul Friedländer (HarperCollins)
Integrating a wide-angle history with closeups of individual Jewish lives, Friedländer completes his masterly history of the Holocaust.
Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
Jonathan Gould (Harmony)
Page after page, you can hear the music as Gould's deft hand makes the book sing—this is music writing at its best.
Graffiti L.A.
Steve Grody (Abrams)
A 17-year effort, this stunning, definitive examination of Los Angeles street art details all aspects of the still-illegal form with 900 gorgeous photographs, testimony from a double-handful of artists and additional material on an included CD-ROM.
How Doctors Think
Jerome Groopman (Houghton)
This could be the most important book on medicine you will ever read, analyzing why doctors misdiagnose—and how to help them get it right.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein (Holt/Metropolitan)
The economic policies—privatization, free trade, slashed social spending—of the “Chicago School” and Milton Friedman are catastrophic, argues this vigorous polemic that demonstrates how free-market ideologues both welcome and provoke the collapse of other people's economies.
The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts
Milan Kundera (HarperCollins)
The great novelist offers a remarkably concise history of the novel, arguing that we must tear away “the curtain of preinterpretation” to experience a work's truth.
The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor
William Langewiesche (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
World nuclearization “has become the human condition,” Langewiesche warns in this brief, tightly packed study that precisely defines an issue worthy of being at the forefront of our international policy.
Edith Wharton
Hermione Lee (Knopf)
Lee illuminates the dark corners of Wharton's life while examining this complex woman's contradictory values and impulses.
First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson
Edited by Michael G. Long (Times)
Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's color-barrier–breaking entry into major league baseball, this absorbing collection of letters reveals new facets of the icon's private nature.
Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming
Chris Mooney (Harcourt)
Having witnessed Katrina's devastation of his mother's New Orleans house, science writer Mooney explores “whether global warming will strengthen or otherwise change hurricanes in general.”
Coltrane: The Story of a Sound
Ben Ratliff (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Always going past the legend to focus on the real-life stories and the actual recordings of this great jazz saxophonist, Ratliff's assessment is a model for music criticism.
The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption
Barbara Bisantz Raymond (Carroll & Graf)
Freelance writer (and adoptive mom) Raymond looks at the life and legacy of the little-remembered orphanage director Georgia Tann, a corrupt but nationally lauded figure whose whose adoption policies are still followed today; the book is a rigorous page-turner.
Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race
Richard Rhodes (Knopf)
This third volume in a history of nuclear weaponry, admirable for its research, might also be described as a chronicle of the unmaking of the arms race.
The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War
Graham Robb (Norton)
The French provinces were once a foreign country to Parisians, intimately rendered by Robb in all their strange fascination.
The Door of No Return: The History of Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Slave Trade
William St Clair (BlueBridge)
Culled from previously unexplored papers in the British National Archives, this gripping history describes the British headquarters at Ghana's Cape Coast Castle, the “last look” point for more than three million sold into the 17th-century slave trade.
Touch and Go: A Memoir
Studs Terkel (New Press)
The legendary interviewer turns the microphone inwards in this wonderful memoir—a fitting portrait of a man who seeks truth with compassion, intelligence, moxie and panache.
Shadow of the Silk Road
Colin Thubron (HarperCollins)
In his latest absorbing travel epic, Thubron follows the course of the ancient network of trade routes that connected central China with the Mediterranean coast.
Poor People
William T. Vollmann (Ecco)
Varied responses to the question “Why are you poor?” fuel this meditation on the nature of poverty by National Book Award–winning novelist and journalist Vollmann.
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Tim Weiner (Doubleday)
Weiner's comprehensive survey is a damning indictment of American intelligence policy that identifies the persistent problems that plague the CIA.
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
Maryanne Wolf (HarperCollins)
Child development professor Wolf maintains the tone of a curious, erudite friend as she synthesizes cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research—psychology and archeology, linguistics and education, history and neuroscience—in a pathbreaking look at the reading brain.

Read the whole list.

1 comment:

Michael Lee Johnson said...

Michael Lee Johnson, Author of:
The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom

Email: poetryman@walla.com
Or: promomanusa@gmail.com


The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom
Book Review: By Carol A. Marcus

The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom, by raising star, Michael Lee Johnson, poet and freelance writer, is about one man's journey into exile to Canada over the Vietnam War many years ago, his struggle, his survival, his road to recovery and strength manifesting itself through his prose, poems, and personal convictions. Mr. Michael Lee Johnson now lives in Illinois, United States. We feel sure you will delight in his work. Michael is a poet, painting his words with a tender and gentle touch, allowing them to create a broad landscape with just a few deceptively simple strokes. Take a short flight into freedom and read the adventures of an unusual life, touching the moments many with an average eye simply miss. Whether it be the agony of self-imposed exile for a cause; or a tender moment with lights flickering in the dark, the emotions come through. Here are two sample poems:

Skinny Indiana Boy

With a heart once as big as Texas
or Alberta where he came from,
the draft resister tries to erase
the memory of his sordid past;
coming out of the Rockies,
down over the slate, out of self-imposed exile,
he leaves the northland shaking
his bandaged fists at the prairie sky.
He was robbed of his own conviction
by a war that ended, others forgot,
there was nothing left to die for, to wait for,
no more protest signs to carry in the dark -
only the chill of the northern winter left
to remind him of what he once felt,
once talked about.
The night looked long in his deep green eyes
robbing his faint life away.
The scream of loneliness has turned
his innards inside out to pity.
Non-religious accept for those
weakened moments, empty nights,
vacant lots, he leaves behind lightless
ten years of those silent wars
without refuge.
He no longer speaks with bullets bleeding
from his mouth, he no longer searches
the quiet whispers that echo in the pines.
Now he is at home near the land of Indiana lakes
where in his childhood he created the vision for his
now dead dream, content to say nothing radical anymore-
just glad to be alive.


Flight of the Eagle

From the dawn, dusty skies
comes the time when
the eagle flies-
without thought,
without aid of wind,
like a kite detached without string,
the eagle in flight leaves no traces,
no trails, no roadways-
never a feather drops
out of the sky.
In the first poem, Skinny Indiana Boy one can feel the pent up emotions, the longing for home, for roots, the desire to be free on one’s own terms again. One can feel the conflict between being alone, the search for God, the anger, the desire to find peace within a self.
In the second poem, Flight of the Eagle one senses imagination, freedom, the desire to be free on the wind, tortured no more, left alone to survive. Here a degree of mysticism prevails, a depth of intestacy, a genius wording of simplicity, a cover from the dark. This little piece is a true reflection of the inward tenacity of the authors will, a testimony one can trust.
On the weak side, a few early love poems reflecting the time of the author’s youth invade the book; but, ironically, through their simplicity, and acceptance of what they are, actually functions in a strange kind of way.
The interview at the end of the book helps to personalize the author with the events of his life, Vietnam, the struggle and glory inbetween. A gap is missing with the flow of events from the beginning to the end only documented by the date the poems were written.
Overall, for a first book of poetry, this is a rising star in the world of Illinois poetry. Michael Lee Johnson is force to be reckoned with, a spirit that yells to be heard. Search the internet, you will find his voice everywhere.
Book Review by: Carol A. Marcus, Independent Writer and Book Reviewer, Editor

Author Biography:

Mr. Michael Lee Johnson lives in Chicago, Illinois area, after spending 10 years in Edmonton, Alberta Canada during the Viet Nam era. He is a freelance writer and poet. He is heavy influenced by Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, and Leonard Cohen. To date he has over 365 poems published in over 135 journals and online publications. He is a member of Poets & Writers, Inc and Directory of American Poets and Fictions Writers: http://www.pw.org/directory/. He is a member of The Illinois Authors Directory. Illinois Center for the Book: http://www.illinoiscenterforthebook.org/directory.html. He has been published in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Turkey, Scotland, Australia, Nigeria, India, and the United Kingdom. His website can be found at: http://poetryman.mysite.com/.

Now Listed at iUniverse Publishers:
http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-46091-7 The ISBN # is: 0-595-46091-7.
EBook also available at iUniverse at: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0-595-90391-6 The ISBN # IS: 0-595-90391-6

Now Listed at Amazon.com

Now Listed at Target Bookstores:

Now Listed at Barnes & Noble


Now Listed at Lulu.com
Visit his storefront at: http://stores.lulu.com/poetryboy

Author can be contacted at: poetryman@walla.com or promomanusa@gmail.com