The book that comes most immediately to mind is Andrew Holleran’s Grief, a slim, restrained, beautifully rendered novel about a gay man whose mother has just died and who relocates to Washington, DC, after having cared for her for years. Holleran does so much so well, but perhaps most striking is how compellingly he writes about solitude; many a writer has tried to do that, only to succumb to inertia and solipsism. Another writer who writes wonderfully about solitude (and just about everything else) is William Trevor (if you want brilliant, heartbreaking solitude, take a look at Trevor’s short story “After Rain”), and his new book of stories, Cheating at Canasta, is terrific. So is Donald Antrim’s memoir The Afterlife, which, speaking of grief, is about his mother’s death, but also about many other things, including the purchase of a mattress. I loved Helen Schulman’s A Day at the Beach, the best of the 9/11 novels I read this year. This novel, too, is about grief (are we sensing a theme here?) – political and cultural grief, of course, but also about family grief: the novel is a domestic drama about a marriage in trouble, with 9/11 as the backdrop.
Josh Henkin is the author of Matrimony, a New York Times Notable Book, Borders Original Voices Pick, and Booksense Pick. His short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in many journals and newspapers. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, Brooklyn College, and the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Josh lives with his family in Brooklyn.
More From Year in Reading
- A Year In Reading: Wrap Up December 23, 2012
- A Year in Reading: Brian Joseph Davis (The Composites) December 23, 2012
- A Year in Reading: Robert Birnbaum December 23, 2012
- A Year in Reading: Buzz Poole December 22, 2012
- A Year in Reading: Carolyn Kellogg December 22, 2012
- View All
Other Recent Articles
- At the Frontiers of the Unsayable: Bennett Sims’s A Questionable Shape May 21, 2013
- George Saunders and the Question of Greatness May 20, 2013
- Capturing the Complexities of Time & Place: Ru Freeman May 17, 2013
- Judging Luhrmann’s Gatsby: Five English Scholars Weigh In May 17, 2013
- The Museum of Unhappy Women: Z by Therese Anne Fowler May 16, 2013
- View All
- Joel says "Do you have an article or review in mind for paragraph four’s “dust up”? When did that happen? I can’t think of an..."George Saunders and the Question of Greatness
- Robbie says "Page count as an absolute value really shouldn’t enter into discussions of literary excellence, if only for the simple reason of..."George Saunders and the Question of Greatness
- Mads Kjeldgaard says "The debate about him not writing a novel and thus not being the great american novelist is weird – it suggests that short..."George Saunders and the Question of Greatness
- bewhatwedo says "I had a similar feeling, but I blazed through it. I wasn’t sure that I loved the book, though – perhaps it wasn’t..."George Saunders and the Question of Greatness
- Arturo Ulises says "Unfortunately, no mention of Blade Runner."“The Book Was Better.” Or Was It?