Best of the Millennium

September 23, 2009

#6: The Road by Cormac McCarthy 12

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No matter how desolate the story, it is made bearable through language.

September 23, 2009

#7: Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald 3

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In its layered explorations of the limitations and possibilities of the narrative I and the narrative eye, Austerlitz changed how I read and how I think.

September 23, 2009

#8: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson 3

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If resonating with the work of either Hemingway or Sebald is enough to make a novel good, Out Stealing Horses, with its echoes of both, is a rare book indeed.

September 23, 2009

#9: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro 0

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Alice Munro has taught us to find literary pleasure in leaping over time, in the odd swerves life takes, in the unexpected sources of comfort and sustenance, and in the idiosyncratic arrangements made for human happiness.

September 23, 2009

#10: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro 1

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This book made me cry for days.

September 22, 2009

#11: The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz 6

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I grabbed it, flipped open to the directed page–and found there one perfect sentence.

September 22, 2009

#12: Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg 0

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Life is impossible; it can’t possibly continue; and then it does.

September 22, 2009

#13: Mortals by Norman Rush 9

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The story of hapless CIA functionary Ray Finch’s midlife unraveling in Botswana is uproarious and deadly serious, ruminative and suspenseful, psychological and philosophical. Think Graham Greene as written by Saul Bellow. Or Thomas Mann as written by Jonathan Franzen.

September 22, 2009

#14: Atonement by Ian McEwan 1

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Atonement is a gut-punch of a book that toys with the idea of the reliable narrator and gets one thinking about the ethics of story-telling and the power that a writer has to bend history to his will.

September 22, 2009

#15: Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis 3

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In Lydia Davis’ hands, things are both exactly what they are and not quite what they seem, and after an hour or so, Varieties of Disturbance starts to look less like a collection of experimental fiction and more like an adventure story.