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      All the Books I Read in 2012 All the Books I Read in 2012 All the Books I Read in 2012

      All the Books I Read in 2012

      December 13, 2012

      I hate end-of-the-year best-of lists. They are short-sighted and usually hive-mindish. They feel counter-productive or something, like they are trying to trick you. Instead, here’s a list of everything I read this year, 135 books, in order. This doesn’t include chapbooks or magazines or online things, not to mention the ridiculous piles of new stuff by excellent people stacked inside my house. Of these, I have highlighted the ones I remember most (which turned out for the most part to be stuff that came out way before 2012, but years are stupid so you should still consider them as part of now). Usually, though, I feel I have a pretty good filter for knowing what I’ll enjoy before I pick it up, and if I don’t like something I stop reading it like I did with Jonathan Lethem’s awful Fear of Music. So, other than that one, the books below might be worth you looking into in 2013.

      One DOA, One on the Way by Mary Robison

      Blueprints of the Afterlife by Ryan Boudinot

      Sister Stop Breathing by Chiara Barzini



      Autoportrait by Édouard Levé: A sublime list of personal projections – “I find myself uglier in profile than straight on,” and “Art that unfolds over time gives me less pleasure than art that stops it” – by a guy who would later kill himself. Feels kind of like reading text carved on a tall dark marble wall. I don’t think anyone could write this book in this way now that the internet exists, and that makes it a little hole in the air.

      These Dreams of You by Steve Erickson

      Vicky Swanky is a Beauty by Diane Williams

      HHhH by Laurent Binet

      Impressions of Africa by Raymond Roussel

      Helsinki by Peter Richards

      The Secret of Evil by Roberto Bolaño

      Vertigo by W.G. Sebald

      Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household

      Erik Satie Watusies His Way Into Sound by Jeff Alessandrelli

      Transfer Fat by Aase Berg (x2)

      The History of the Siege of Lisbon by Jose Saramago

      To Hell With Sleep by Anselm Berrigan

      Where Art Belongs by Chris Kraus



      The Journalist by Harry Mathews: An insane practice in journal writing where the titular journalist gets more and more obsessive and specific about recording everything that happens to him daily while also trying to classify all the information more and more ornately. I loved how it mixed uncontrollable thought with objective everyday behaviours more and more intensely until the novel itself seemed to be collapsing on itself, without making the reader feel like collapsing. Easily my favourite Mathews, and one of the most satisfying books I’ve read from the Ouilipo.   



      Triptych by Claude Simon: This book kind of works like a text-film spliced from three different tapes, switching back and forth without letting you know when and building these fucked up image-graphs that keep spooling into darkness. Kind of like Burroughs but French and somehow more flat and eerie architecture.

      Skin Horse by Olivia Cronk

      The Other Poems by Paul Legault

      A Map Predetermined and Chance by Laura Wetherington

      Crunk Juice by Steve Roggenbuck

      No, Not Today by Jordan Stempleman

      Party Knife by Dan Magers

      My Life in CIA by Harry Mathews

      Life Is With People by Atticus Lish

      The No Hellos Diet by Sam Pink

      Percussion Grenade by Joyelle McSweeney

      Chess Story by Stefan Zweig

      Meat Heart by Melissa Broder

      Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith by Joanna Ruocco

      Divorcer by Gary Lutz

      Xorandor by Christine Brooks-Rose

      The Malady of the Century by Jon Leon

      Cunt-Ups by Dodie Bellamy

      On the Tracks of Wild Game by Tomaž Šalamun

      Antigonick by Anne Carson

      Magic Hours by Tom Bissell

      Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins

      Take Care Fake Bear Torque Cake by Heidi Lynn Staples

      This Bright River by Patrick Somerville

      Windeye by Brian Evenson (reread): I always look forward to new Brian Evenson and this is one of his best. He writes mental terror better than pretty much anyone, full of bizarre structures and thought-labyrinths like Deleuze cooked into Hitchcock. I like how he makes a story collection feel like a novel, in a hypnotising kind of way.

      Duties of an English Foreign Secretary by Macgregor Card

      Inverted World by Christopher Priest

      The World Will Deny It For You by Janaka Stucky

      Short Talks by Anne Carson

      Immobility by Brian Evenson

      I am a Very Productive Entrepreneur by Mathias Svalina

      The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

      Drought by Debra diBlasi

      How I Became a Nun by César Aira

      Every Hand Revealed by Gus Hansen

      The Recognitions by William Gaddis: I’d had this on the floor beside my bed for several years now trying to will myself to finally get around to reading it and I finally did. Probably one of the best reading experiences for me in a long time; felt inspired by the breadth and scope of each paragraph in a way I’d almost forgotten. Felt rich and lyrical while also modern and immediate despite the fact that so little seems to physically happen. A rare book deserving of its stature.

      Butcher’s Tree by Feng Sun Chen

      Independence by Pierre Guyotat

      Mankind by Jon Leon

      Open City by Teju Cole

      J R by William Gaddis: Much more streamlined than The Recognitions, built mostly out of dialogue that feels unhinged from the beautiful weird little paragraphs that build its backbone. Really feel like Gaddis was angry at the novel and at people so he made this insane thing that kind of just keeps spinning and shitting but that is so singular in how it does that; I can’t think of any other book that works the way this seems to.

      The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

      The Spokes by Miranda Mellis

      Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño

      I Love Dick by Chris Kraus

      A Million Bears by Spencer Madsen

      Reader’s Block by David Markson (reread)

      Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem (half)

      So We Have Been Given Time Or by Sawako Nakayasu

      Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys

      Água Viva by Clarice Lispector

      It by Inger Christensen

      Big Ray by Michael Kimball

      Event by Philippe Sollers

      All the Garbage of the World, Unite! by Kim Hyesoon

      Moby-Dick by Herman Melville: Another one I’d been meaning to read forever and finally did and enjoyed it way more than I imagined. The book seems to get a bad rap in that people always talk about how there are all these long extra parts about nothing but I felt the book was really economical and smart in how it circled its subjects and invoked colours and mechanisms instead of just showing scene after scene. It’s also frequently hilarious and approaches death in surprising ways. Melville was real as fuck to have written this beast in the mid-19th century.

      My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

      Slow Slidings by M Kitchell

      How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti

      Double or Nothing by Raymond Federman

      Replacement by Tor Ulven

      Blood on the Dining-Room Floor by Gertrude Stein

      History or Messages from History by Gertrude Stein

      How Music Works by David Byrne

      The Alphabet Man by Richard Grossman

      Soulacoaster by R. Kelly

      It Then by Danielle Collobert

      The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

      With the Animals by Noëlle Revaz: A fucked up invented form of speaking here, somewhat like brain damaged French ghetto-redneck. The way the narrator speaks is so enchanting in its way that it almost doesn’t matter what happens but the story of a farmer and his suspicion of a new farmhand he hires who seems to be infatuated with his creepy wife is alive with paranoia and anger and weird Beckett-y farm scenes. The shit.

      Pure Filth by Jamie Gillis and Peter Sotos

      Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace by D.T. Max

      Strange Landscape by Tony Duvert: Finally got to read this after finding it listed on Dennis Cooper’s 100 favourite novels, despite it being long out of print and pricey (I forgot about libraries!). Weird chopping paragraphs in the nouveau roman style juxtaposing constant strange scenes of boys in captivity doing messed up sex acts for money. A good pairing from Grove with Simon’s Triptych above.

      Thunderbird by Dorothea Lasky

      Fra Keeler by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi

      In Time’s Rift by Ernst Meister

      Project for a Revolution in New York by Alain Robbe-Grillet: Beautiful reissue of one of R-G’s flat-glassy sex-architecture apparatuses; imagist and chopped-up while objectively descriptive, like wandering around a mostly evacuated city peeking in on shit you weren’t supposed to see.

      Portrait of the Writer as a Domesticated Animal by Lydia Salvayre

      Action, Figure by Frank Hinton

      The Map of the System of Human Knowledge by James Tadd Adcox

      Three Poems by John Ashbery

      Donogoo Tonka, or The Miracles of Science by Jules Romains

      Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector

      City: An Essay by Brian Lennon

      Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle

      Carnival by Jason Bredle

      Normance by Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Pretty much just one 450-page scene set during an air-bombing of France by the Nazis, written in Céline’s trademark angry and immersive prose. It’s incredible in how it draws you through the minute-to-minute with a bizarre intensity that never flags, and goes pretty much anti-sentimental despite the mass carnage; the narrator spares no would-be war victims, pretty much insisting that they are stupid human shit and deserve to die. It’s funnier than it sounds, and weirdly immersive in a rare way.

      A Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector

      The Book of Interfering Bodies by Daniel Borzutzky

      The Museum of Eterna’s Novel by Macedonio Fernández

      Conversations with Professor Y by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

      Mahu, Or, The Material by Robert Pinget

      The Source by Noah Eli Gordon

      Mad Science in Imperial City by Shanxing Wang

      Promising Young Women by Suzanne Scanlon

      Selected Poems: 1951-1977 by A.R. Ammons

      Nervous Device by Catherine Wagner

      The Bitter Half by Toby Olson

      If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? by Jarrett Kobek

      Cure All by Kim Parko

      Thinking About Magritte by Kate Sterns

      The Memoirs of Jonbenet by Kathy Acker by Michael Du Plessis

      Balloon Pop Outlaw Black by Patricia Lockwood

      Connecting Bodies by Claude Simon

      Light Without Heat by Matthew Kirkpatrick

      The Obscene Bird Of Night by José Donoso

      Tomorrow In The Battle Think On Me by Javier Marías

      Quinnehtukqut by Joshua Harmon

      I Love Artists by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

      For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide

      The Quantum Manual of Style by Brian Mihok

      Woes of the True Policeman by Roberto Bolaño

      Bad Boats by Laura Jensen

      Propagation by Laura Elrick

      Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace

      The Siege in the Room by Miquel Bauçà

      I am My Own Betrayal by Guillaume Morissette

      Mulligan Stew by Gilbert Sorrentino: I avoided reading this one for a long time too and now I’m ending the year with it. It’s a hilarious and ridiculous catalog of styles and ideas and satires of itself, with so much stuffed into the place it seems to change every time you think you know what it’s up to. Going into 2013 I’m going to pretend like this book just came out.

      @blakebutler

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      Topics: Blake Butler, Literary, 2012, books, literature, édouard levé, Harry Mathews, Claude Simon, Brian Evenson, William Gaddis, Herman Melville

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