Lists, lists - everyone's on a list, compiling a list, reading a list. So I've decided to crash that party. Here is the first annual Nick's Picks for the Most Notable Books of the Year.
And just real quick - Most Notable does not only mean Best. I might not give a fig about some of these books; they could be here because they made waves. Others because I deem them worthy. I'm not bashful - I'll let you know.
If you disagree - feel free to compile your own!
And - Nicks Picks will be fiction heavy because fiction's better than non. Fiction.
Actually, I just read more fiction than non(fiction) so that's why there'll be more. Fiction.
If I could cue up a drum roll, I would. Lacking that, let's begin with--
#100: Fifty Shades of Grey, by E L James. Vintage. $15.95
No book was bigger this year - or most years. It's not listed because I like it. It's terrible. But leaving it off would've been stupid. So here it is.
Still - if it's erotica you want, may I suggest Little Birds by Anaïs Nin?
#99: The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, by David Nasaw. The Penguin Press. $40.
Was Joseph Kennedy the most interesting, the most intriguing of the Kennedy's - as Nasaw asserts? No. No, he wasn't.
#98: Jack Gilbert: Collected Poems. Knopf. $35.
Yes, you should. Not because Mr. Gilbert died a few weeks ago, not because he raged against the dying of the light - but because he writes like this:
It waits. While I am walking through the pine trees
along the river, it is waiting. It has waited a long time.
In southern France, in Belgium, and even Alabama.
Now it waits in New England while I say grace over
almost everything: for a possum dead on someone’s lawn,
the single light on a levee while Northampton sleeps,
and because the lanes between houses in Greek hamlets
are exactly the width of a donkey loaded on each side
with barley. Loneliness is the mother’s milk of America.
The heart is a foreign country whose language none
of us is good at.Winter lingers on in the woods,
but already it looks discarded as the birds return
and sing carelessly; as though there never was the power
or size of December. For nine years in me it has waited.
My life is pleasant, as usual. My body is a blessing
and my spirit clear. But the waiting does not let up.