Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So long, 20008

"As prisoner #18330-424 (Lord Conrad Black) might say, it's been a farrago of a year, a cornucopia of the diabolical, the excruciating, and the interminable.Worse than a Saturday afternoon at Ikea. That bad."

So says Lynda Hurst of The Toronto Star on the political/social landscape of the past twelve months. To wit:

Canadian politician Stephane Dion on sovereignity in the Arctic: "We cannot win against the Americans (or) the Russians. And we are too civilized to shoot the Danes."

Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi on Barack Obama: " (He is) handsome, young, and tanned."

American politician Sarah Palin on foreign policy during a television interview: "We must not, Charlie, blink, because, Charlie, as I've said, Charlie, before, John McCain has said that - and remember here, Charlie, we're talking about John McCain, who, Charlie, is John McCain and I won't be blinking, Charlie."

Words to ponder.

But the words usually pondered in this corner of cyberspace are those found between two covers, uttered by fictional characters. After twelve months of reading, which authors made AW glad to sacrifice sleep and punctuality? Whose characters, scenes and snippets of dialogue remained with her after weeks or months had passed? Who made her sigh with admiration and yes, a teensy bit of envy at the sheer level of beauty and consummate writerly skill contained in favorite sentences and paragraphs? From whom did she learn the most? In no particular order:

Sherry Thomas (historical) - both debut release ‘Private Arrangments’ and follow-up ‘Delicious’, for the excellent good fun of the secondary romance in PA and making the "food = so much more than mere physical nourishment" scenes so evocative that she had to get up and find something delectable to munch every time she read a chapter.

Bonus: one of the best author blog titles in cyberspace: ‘Plotters and Manipulators United’. (Runner-up for best author blog title: suspense writer Deanna Raybourne's 'Blog A-Go-Go')

Joanna Bourne (historical) – for making AW go back after the utterly unsuspected bombshell half way through ‘My Lady Spymaster’ to marvel at all the clues peppered throughout the text that she had missed.

Bonus: an interesting, readable author blog with helpful advice for the writerly inclined.

Meredith Duran (historical) – for not only setting a rip-roaring debut novel (‘Duke of Shadows’) in one of AW’s favorite settings (India) but doing so without falling into any of several common novel-in-South-Asia traps (discussed here http://apprentice-writer.blogspot.com/2008/04/inspiration-india.html).

Bonus: approaching the matter with such passion that the author will be conducting doctoral research in the sub-continent.

Sarah Monette (dark fantasy) – Quadruple threat: vivid, original, edgy, unpredictable writing. The first books of the ‘Doctrine of Labyrinths’ series blew AW away.

Bonus: reading the author’s livejournal makes you smarter, but not in an obnoxious way. Thoughts on Kafka, Freud, Jung alongside very funny observations about television’s ‘Crusoe’, comments on identity of applesauce, etc.

And, lest the Gentle Reader think AW condones gender exclusion:

Jasper Fforde (alternate reality) – The ‘Thursday Next’ and ‘Nursery Crime’ series are so creatively out of the box that the term ‘alternate reality’ is a hopelessly inadequate label.

Bonus: this author’s titles will never suffer from being slapped with an anonymous manchest on the cover (as foisted upon a number of his colleagues on this list).

Gentle Reader – What about you? Which authors made you happy to be a reader in the past year?


Julia Smith said...

M - your opening quote had me howling!! Because you know I'm a HUGE fan of Prisoner 18330-424.

As for books -

Hands down, Sergei Lukyanenko. His series of books are of course translated into English but the writing is still amazing (Urban paranormal.)

Then of course my perennial favorite, Jo Beverley. I actually read a 2006 book this year, To Rescue a Rogue, which I loved.

And Debut Novel of the Year - as voted by Romance Novel TV - was definitely one of my favorite books! Broken Wing by my chapter mate, Judith James.

Can't forget my cousin, Julianne MacLean, who - through no fault of her own - wears the mantle of One of Julia's Favorite Authors with remarkable dignity. The Mistress Diaries was another not-like-the-others romance - really, the only kind I like.

Happy New Year, AW! (mhua)

Abby said...

OK, I've read the Palin quote three times and it still makes me laugh. Classic.

I was in the bookstore after reading your post yesterday and I tried to track down Melusine - the database said the store had a copy but I couldn't find it anywhere. I'll get my hands on it eventually...

M. said...

Julia - Yes, Lord Black of Crossharbour is many things but boring is not one of them.

Interesting list. I've never heard of Sergei Lukanenko. How did you track him down? And Julianne McLean titles being out of the ordinary certainly makes them more interesting to me *g*. She's on my TBR list this year.

Abby - The amazing thing is that Camille Paglia, the sort-of-militant social commentator, thinks future generations will look back on Palin as a person who carried the feminist agenda significantly forward. Hard for me to believe, but what do I know?

I got'Melusine' at the library, since my bookstore only carried the most recent Monette publication. I'm burning to know what you think. There's always a huge responsibility to recommending something highly - if the reviewer is indifferent to a title, no-one is going to come back and accuse them of promising something that wasn't delivered.