Literary Fiction 40%
Science Fiction 10%
So why is it that I write dark science fiction and horror? Because it's what I like to write, I suppose. Actually, I like to write damn near everything. At a booksigning at the Poisoned Pen yesterday, Patrick Millikin, one of the managers, mentioned that it used to be that authors could write whatever they wanted. Readers recognized that if an author could write, then he could write just about anything, as long as he was well-read, educated and talented. But somewhere along the way we got pidgeon-holed by the markets. So sad.
Still, most of the time, I write what I want. And I always read what I want. So here are my top five books of 2010. I refuse to put them in any order. Each one could have been a number one pick at any given time.
Conscience by John Skipp. Skipp and I have known each other for awhile now, and I proudly call him my friend. I've read some of his work before, but nothing like this. Conscience is a business card he used when breaking back into the scene a few years back. It's a tremendous collection of work and I think represents the best of what Skipp can do, which is better than 99% of what the rest of us can do.
A Happy Marriage: A Novel by Rafael Yglesias. I first heard of this during an interview on NPR. I listen to this station whenever I am not listening to music. I love the special programs regarding arts and literature. Rarely does NPR steer me wrong, as you will see later in this list. A Happy Marriage is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to read about love, real love, the kind of love where a man has to care for his wife during her last days of cancer, then this is your book. It's at once inspiring and depressing. But where it could be easily bogged down, Rafael uses flashbacks and forwards. He begins with both the beginning and the end of relationship, then works inwards towards the heart.
The Blade Itself (The First Law: Book One) by Joe Ambercrombie. I love good fantasy trilogies. I read several this last year. Brent Weeks Night Angel Trilogy was damn good. Joe Abercrombies was both damned good and gritty as a two dollar hooker in a crack den. I bought this book while in vacation in Warwick, England. I devoured it so quickly that I bought the other two at Heathrow on the way back. This is everything a fantasy novel and trilogy should be. It has absolutely all the elements, with the addition of being violent, unrelenting, and breathtaking in the author's determination to present a realistic setting, with all the blood, gore, and stench it has to have.
Biggest Elvis: A Novelby P.F. Kluge. I also heard about Kluge on NPR. I bought Gone Tomorrow and really enjoyed it. So when I went to the bookstore to see what else this author had written, I was pleased to find this title. Those of you who know me know that I have a little love affair with all things Elvis, evidenced by my tattoo, if nothing else. This novel is the tale of three Elvis impersonators living in the Philippines. Each impersonator represents Elvis at a different time in his career. With mafia, prostitutes, and the eternal theme of redemption, this novel had everything I wanted and left me wanting more. This is really a nice piece of work, even if you don't care at all about Elvis.
Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel by John Irving. It's hard to believe that in the years he has been writing that he's only produced a few novels. You'd think there'd be fifty. There should be. But the very fact that they're not, makes each one a gem. Last Night is no exception. This is another novel about redemption and acceptance. It carries the characters through their entire lives, letting you live along as they experience truth, majesty and tragedy. This is Irving at the top of his game.