Thursday, December 01, 2005


Two nits to pick re: NYT Best Books of 2005

I see that the New York Times has already posted its list of The 10 Best Books of 2005. Let me be the first (but certainly not the last) reader to note that one title, De Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, was actually published in November 2004. Ye gods, the book won the NBCC Award that year--it's not as though it crept in under the radar. My other dissent: Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, which I reviewed for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, is not one of the best books of this or any year. It's okay, with some sharp and memorable passages, but contrary to the unsigned blurb in the Times, it did not cast an "unshakable spell"--certainly not for me. I don't begrudge Sittenfeld her success: more power to her. But to pretend that this book is on the same level as the other winners is a real absurdity.

Hmmm. I've just come here via MetaxuCafe. I like your entries here a LOT! And yet I must gloss your post on the Best Books list by saying that (a) I've only read 3 of the 5 novels on the list (I've just got Kafka from the library & will read shortly, am not planning on reading Saturday) (b) the blurb for Sittenfeld may be silly but (c) "Prep" seemed to me considerably superior to "On Beauty." So in other words, just a reminder about subjectivity in literary judgments.... I think as strong objections could be leveled at Saturday and On Beauty (and for that matter at Packer, if we go in that direction) as at Prep; yes, I'd rather have seen Ishiguro's latest or half a dozen other novels there than ANY of those three, really, but....
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