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/sheepishly raises hand.


George Pelecanos is by a long shot my favorite writer to read. I saw the reviews for The Sweet Forever in 1998 and, because it was already checked out, read his first book instead and blitzed through the rest. That said, I rarely recommend GPP to others. I think his body of work stands so much taller than individual books and it is difficult to pick a standout.


Of course, I read The Double. The problem for me with GP is that I wait and wait for the new book and then finish them in an afternoon.


One aspect of The Double surfacing is that Spero can be pathetic in a non-romanticized way.


Also, the chapter humanizing the bad guy was terrific. The territory GP has made his own has its bad guys from young black males or country kids from Maryland so for George to realistically bring a different sort of dude into the mix was great.

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The only other book mentioned above that I finished is the Lethem. It is his best book yet and one of my favorites of 2013. (I loved Chronic City, so I might be an unreliable narrator, here.)


I hope to get to the Coetzee someday. I gave up on the McDermott halfway through.

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Thanks for the Pelecanos details (and recommendation, if I'm reading you correctly), J. Henry. It's also good to hear from someone who's read the latest Lethem, another book that's been conspicuously absent from the year-end lists, although I've seen so many of those lists, some with 100 titles, that I may have overlooked mentions of Dissident Gardens.

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It's early yet -- I'm only on disc 2 of 13 -- but I'm tempted to launch a thread about this novel, which is, so far, fine, even exceptional. Because I'm listening to the audiobook, I'm not sure how much credit goes to the narrator (he's outstanding), but listening to the prose, I think Lethem has to get the lion's share of the credit.


I noted above that I hadn't seen this novel on any best-of lists last year. I'm worried it'll soon fall apart, or grow tiresome. But it begins with such a bang -- no softhearted, softheaded look at communism here -- that I marveled at the novel.


I'm still in that stage. It's a nice place to be.

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This is a work in progress as usual.  It always takes a certain amount of digging and searching, but here's my running 2014 list so far.


1/7 - Little Failure: A Memoir - by Gary Shteyngart

1/28 - Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 - by Geoffrey Hill

2/1 - Idiot Psalms: New Poems - by Scott Cairns

2/1 - Endless Life: Poems of the Mystics - by Scott Cairns

2/3 - Emil Brunner: A Reappraisal - by Alister McGrath

2/15 - Gratitude: An Intellectual History - by Peter J. Leithart

3/6 - Napoleon: Soldier of Destiny, Volume 1 - by Michael Broers


3/11 - Shotgun Lovesongs - by Nickolas Butler

3/12 - Notes from Underground - by Roger Scruton

4/1 - Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting: Poems - by Kevin Powers

4/6 - The Soul of the World - by Roger Scruton

4/15 - Trace - by Simone Muench

4/22 - The Serpent of Venice - by Christopher Moore

4/29 - The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language - by John McWhorter

5/6 - But Enough About You: Essays - by Christopher Buckley

6/10 - Eyrie: A Novel - by Tim Winton

6/19 - Gesturing Toward Reality: David Foster Wallace and Philosophy - edited by Robert K. Bolger & Scott Korb

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March 25: The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson [here's a clip of Nelson talking about the Atomic Age]

May 20: The Second World War: A Marxist History by Chris Bambery


--I've had The Greek Coffin Mystery--a real, honest-to-goodness, physical reprint of the novel by Ellery Queen--pre-ordered for two months. Looks like it's coming out in April, now.


[i'm actually finally getting my hands on a bunch of books published last year--Rana Mitter's Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945Susan Dunn's 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindberg, Hitler--the Election Amid the Storm; Waiting to get my hands on Boruma's Year Zero and Katznelson's Fear Itself]

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4/1 - All At Once: Prose Poems - by C.K. Williams

6/1 - Threats of Pain and Ruin - by Theodore Dalyrmple

6/10 - Scalia: A Court of One - by Bruce Allen Murphy

6/17 - The Late Scholar: Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane Investigate - by Jill Paton Walsh

6/30 - Socrates Meets Kierkegaard - by Peter Kreeft

7/2 - The Great Glass Sea - by Josh Weil

7/8 - Second Childhood: Poems - by Fanny Howe

7/8 - California - by Edan Lepucki

7/30 - Socrates Meets Freud - by Peter Kreeft

8/12 - New Selected Poems - by Les Murray

8/12 - Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - by Haruki Marukami

8/14 - Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor - by Adrian Goldsworthy

8/26 - The New Oxford Book of War Poetry - edited by Jon Stallworthy

8/31 - Conjugal Union: What Marriage Is and Why It Matters - by Robert P. George & Patrick Lee

9/2 - The Bone Clocks - by David Mitchell

9/9 - Perfidia - by James Ellroy

9/9 - Once in the West: Poems - by Christian Wiman

9/9 - World Order - by Henry Kissinger

9/9 - The Children Act - by Ian McEwan

9/9 - The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It - by Peter Enns

9/29 - The Glass Cage: Automation and Us - Nicholas Carr

9/30 - The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories - by Hilary Mantel

10/7 - Lila: A Novel - by Marilynne Robinson

10/7 - Nora Webster - by Colm Tóibín

10/23 - The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History - by Boris Johnson

10/23 - Deleuze and Futurism: A Manifesto for Nonsense - by Helen Palmer

11/11 - Terrapin: Poems - by Wendell Berry

11/11 - Cities That Shaped the Ancient World - by John Julius Norwich

12/2 - Essays After Eighty - by Donald Hall

12/2 - Basic Economics - by Thomas Sowell

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1/1/15 - Litter: What Remains of Our Culture - by Theodore Dalrymple

1/6/15 - The Martini Shot: A Novella and Stories - by George Pelecanos

1/6/15 - Simply Good News: Why the Gospel Is News and What Makes It Good - by N.T. Wright

1/17/15 - Writing With Ease: Strong Fundamentals: A Guide to Designing Your Own Elementary Writing Curriculum - by Susan Wise Bauer

1/22/15 - Leaving Before the Rains Come - Alexandra Fuller

2/3/15 - A Little Book on Form - by Robert Hass

2/3/15 - Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances - by Neil Gaiman

2/10/15 - Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848 - by Adam Zamoyski

2/17/15 - The Whites - by Richard Price

2/24/15 - In This Great Time and Other Writings - by Karl Kraus

2/24/15 - Discontent and its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London - by Mohsin Hamid

3/3/15 - Sherman's Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War - by Matthew Carr

3/3/15 - The Buried Giant - by Kazuo Ishiguro

3/10/15 - The Idea of Europe - by George Steiner

3/10/15 - World Gone By - by Dennis Lehane

3/10/15 - Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania - by Erik Larson

3/17/15 - American Literary Greatness - by Harold Bloom

3/17/15 - Traces of the Trinity: Signs of God in Creation and Human Experience - by Peter J. Leithart

3/24/15 - Ember Days - by Nick Ripatrazone

3/31/15 - Wearing God: An Exercise in Enriching Our Spiritual Imagination - by Lauren F. Winner

4/1/15 - The Complete Poetic Works of Michael Madsen, Vol. 2: 2005-2015 - by Michael Madsen

4/14/15 - Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church - by Rachel Held Evans

4/14/15 - Voices in the Night - by Steven Millhauser

4/26/15 - Embodiment and Virtue in Gregory of Nyssa: An Anagogical Approach - by Hans Boersma

5/5/15 - Thrown Under the Omnibus: A Reader - by P.J. O’Rourke

5/11/15 - The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory - by Susan Wise Bauer

9/15/15 - Purity - by Jonathan Franzen

9/15/15 - The Art of Memoir - by Mary Karr

10/6/15 - The Clasp - by Sloane Crosley

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Alice McDermott (my favourite living novelist) has a new novel out, The Ninth Hour, and I am excited to read it, though I do find a lot of her novels pretty much cover the same ground of mid-20th century Catholic families.

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