21 Dec 2008

My Top 3 Reads of 2008

1. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Suskind

Magnificent. This novel offered me everything I want from a story – it was dark, literary, original, compelling, psychologically acute, tragic, beautifully written, and with an outcast as its unforgettable central character. A tale I will doubtless revisit again and again in years to come. My only disappointment was watching the film version before reading the book, always a mistake.

2. Duma Key, Stephen King

In recent years, I find myself biting voraciously into each new effort from King only for my appetite to wane around its flabby middle section and then return again with the serving of dessert, i.e., the final 150 to 200 pages. Duma Key was no different. The beginning was exceptional, hooking me completely, the middle seemed a little long and unfocused, and the ending, though satisfying, resorted at times to one or two laughable plot/exposition devices to move the whole thing along and resolve the story issues. That said, Duma is more accessible and enjoyable than most of King's recent output, Lisey's Story and Cell to name just two, and is, therefore, his best work for a long, long time.

3. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn

I bought this book from Amazon a while back because (1) it was on sale, and (2) that title grabbed me. I had no expectations and only a vague idea of what it was about, but sometimes that makes for the best reads. Suck City has much to offer, too much to include in this short review. Among other things, it is an insightful and honest portrayal of a difficult father and son relationship, a fresh, unflinching look at life on the streets and in homeless shelters, and a sad, cautionary tale about clinging to empty dreams. Highly recommended.

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