This will be widely linked to, for sure, but here tis anyway: James Wood's Ten Favorite Books of 2008.

As you'd expect, both Netherland and The Rest is Noise get the nod, but he also gives James Kelman's Kieron Smith, Boy some deserving approbation: "challenging, late modernist, fairly unpunctuated, and written in run-on Glaswegian dialect, which must be why it has been received with indifference or hostility in America, and was ignored in Britain by this year’s middlebrow Booker Prize committee. It is Kelman’s tender evocation of his own childhood" and is his "best novel so far".

Readers Comments

  1. What surprised me in his selection was William Flesch's book. Flesch is a Blanchot expert - among other things, he wrote an obituary in the Boston Globe and an introduction to Thomas Carl Wall's Radical Passivity (about Levinas, Blanchot and Agamben).

    With this in mind, and recalling that JW says in How Fiction Works that Barthes is one of his favoured critics, I wonder what he thinks of Blanchot given that he was Barthes' secret sharer.

  2. That Flesch book looks fascinating. His cursory treatment, in the opening pages of the introduction, of the previous "evolutionary psychology" approaches to literature serves to remind me how clueless those approaches are about culture. They could use a reading of Blood Relations and related works, for one thing... (so it's nice to see the phrase "costly signaling" in the sub-title of Flesch's book)

  3. I was a bit disappointed with the Rest is Noise. It had no over-arching narrative, and seemed a bit all over the place as a result. Maybe once a book is on that many recommended lists, it's a bit hard to fall in love with it quite as much as everyone else did before the tidal wave of hype. But Netherland, sorry.... zzzzzzz..... Breath, Tim Winton, infinitely preferable!

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