Sunday, January 11, 2015

Favorite 2014 Books

It's pretty clear that Forest Gospel's been slowing down for some time. And, truth be told, it's not likely to reignite any time soon. That said, I don't think we'll ever just out-and-out quit the thing--who would even care if we did? And so, in a surprise move: a list! Sure, you're probably well past caring about any more year-end lists (at least I am). But then again, who am I even addressing? Myself, mostly. Self: These are my favorite books of the year, books that seem to be underrepresented in terms of year-end love, which is why I'm compelled to post this here. It's an unranked list, and I know that I missed reading a million books that would/could/should probably be here (money/time), but regardless, everyone should read these books.

Dan by Joanna Ruocco (Dorothy, a publishing project)

I know I said this was an unranked list, but Dan was for sure my favorite book of the year. It's the book that I wish I was always reading. Ruocco's amazing sentences in Dan remind me a lot of Flann O'Brien, both in terms of their humor and Ruocco's ability to write the hell out of any and everything. Made me LOL every couple pages for real (and dumbly smiling for all the rest). Just thinking about it...I think I'm going to go re-read it, right now.


Arsène Schrauwen by Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics)

A brilliant, weird biography of Olivier Schrauwen's grandfather, Arsène. I love the odd colors, the stumbling narrative pace, the fantastic page design--everything.
Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball (Pantheon)

I wrote a pretty glowing review for this thing here, so maybe you can read up on it there? It's really an amazing book that quietly destroys you. I'm a pretty big Jesse Ball fan and I think it's probably his best.

Discomfort by Evelyn Hampton (Ellipses Press)

Oops, this actually just came out. I had an advanced copy--why did I think it came out last year? Oh, well: still so good. Friend alert! Yep, I know Evelyn. We're probably friends. So, I'm pretty happy that her debut collection is as super weird and awesome as it is. I don't know another imagination quite like Evelyn's--every premise, every observation, it's like, WTF, who is this girl? It's so great.
How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)

Twitter evidence that I pretty much got the ball rolling on this collection back in 2011. Definitely worth the wait. Davis is probably in a three-way-tie  for the oft-considered category of Nick's Favorite Cartoonist, so having a collection that exhibits such a wide range of her work is super rad.
Here by Richard McGuire (Pantheon)

An absolutely gorgeous comics treatise on place, wherein Richard McGuire brilliantly offers up a vision of the corner of a room, its history and future, both before it existed and after it's gone. The books a formal masterpiece, the kind of work comics scholars will be referencing for years to come. And rightly so.

In the Marble of Your Animal Eyes by Nathan Hauke (Publication Studio)

Friend alert, part two! I'm sorry, I can't help it if my friends are super talented and wrote some of my favorite books of 2014. And In the Marble of Your Animal Eyes, a book-length sequence of poems, is simply the most beautiful. Incorporating a facsimile transcription of Hauke's pencil edits, every page has a wonderful tactile energy of a genius poet's imagination at work.
 In Pieces by Marion Fayolle (Nobrow)

Marion Fayolle's In Pieces is deserving of a much wider audience. Her book, In Pieces, gorgeously produced by the amazing folks at Nobrow Press, is one of the best examples of comics poetry I've found, whether or not she regards it as such. Filled with lovely vignettes, both darkly humorous and poignant, Fayolle's work achieves a quiet gravitas rarely found in comics.
Travel Notes by Stanley Crawford (Calamari)

Okay, so this was originally published in 1967, and, truth be told, I own an original copy. Still, any chance to  recommend the writing of Stanley Crawford is a chance I'll take. So thank you Calamari Press for republishing this lost classic, because if you haven't read the machinations of Crawford's mind, his sentences, what are you doing with your time?
Writers by Antoine Volodine (Dalkey Archive)

The most recent English translation of one of the most amazing literary imaginations of the last thirty years. What else do you need to know?

1 comment:

wendel said...

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