When thinking of what I would pick for my best reads of 2009 I found myself confronted by a list of titles that was actually quite long. 2009 was, quite simply, a year of good books. Looking at the list my eyes fell upon two titles who, in one form or another, have stuck with me in the intervening months since I’ve read them. Whether via stirring imagery or powerful emotional imagery my two choices, despite the plethora of flotsam and jetsam, keep rising to the surface of my thoughts. So hit the jump to see my picks.
Clocking in at a scant 101 pages (about a third of which is an essay) is Robert J. Wiersema’s The World More Full of Weeping.
Coming from the relatively new Chizine Publications, The World More Full of Weeping is a haunting tale that looks at the enchanting beauty of nature, the innocence of youth, and the things we lose growing up. Since I read it back in early October the emotions it stirred, memories of my own childhood, have remained in the forefront of my mind. It is a piece of fiction I responded to on a deeply personal level; which is perhaps THE thing one looks for in fiction. In addition to being a wonderful piece of writing Chizine really pulled out all the stops on production. While it is indeed a tiny little book the ominous cover art, which is actually textured, beautifully captures the tone of the story. While I own the paperback edition I regret not picking up the deluxe hardcover instead. The book is still available direct from Chizine (an other vendors) and I can’t recommend it enough.
My second pick is Caitlin Kiernan’s The Red Tree. The novel is a dark tale of a grieving writer’s sojourn to a remote New England farm where she encounters a strange manuscript about the malevolent Red Oak that grows on the grounds is as much about haunting both symbolic and historical as it is about the supernatural. It is a richly textured piece of fiction that expertly blends truth and fiction to the point where they are nigh inseparable. It isn’t particularly light reading, but it certainly left it’s mark on my psyche. Like I said in my review, I’m glad I didn’t get to bring it on my vacation to Maine in July; I’m not sure how much sleep I would have gotten.
Looking towards 2010 there is a lot to be excited about. I am particularly enthusiastic about titles from Angry Robot finally making their way stateside starting in May. I’ve railed about the unfairness of the precedence frequently given to the folks across the pond, particularly where fantasy is concerned, and Angry Robot has some really exciting titles lined up in 2010 (and released in 2009).
I don’t have a lot of specific titles I’m looking forward to this year (that’s a lie I just have too many to list here) but one of the titles I’m most curious about is Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I thought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was an entertaining, B-movie ride, and I’m curious to see how Seth Grahame-Smith tells a tale in, what I hope is, his own voice. I should probably mention that in college I once played an RPG campaign based in the Weird West setting known as Deadlands which featured a zombie Abe Lincoln so I’m pretty sure that nostalgia is fueling part of my excitement.
Ok, that’s going to be it for 2009. Hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year. I’ll see you folks on the flip side.