‘Tis the season for creating lists and such, and yes, I’m here to add another one, but I thought I would simply list the books of 2011 that I suspect I’ll still be talking about after this year is over. (How’s that for a
lazy snappy lead-in?) I settled on four of them, with a few more honorable mentions. The first book listed here is technically from 2010, but I don’t care because it was published in December of ’10 and I say it’s close enough for rock and roll. And I didn’t read it until this year. So there.
1. By the Time We Leave Here, We’ll Be Friends, by J. David Osborne
This is the book voted mostly likely to send you swirling down the toilet bowl of depression. Yes, it’s that dark and that bleak. And it’s fucking cold, too. Set in a Communist Siberian gulag, you should consider throwing on a hoodie-footie before reading this, lest you catch your death of cold. But goddamn, is it beautifully written. Osborne’s style is as clipped, considered and no-nonsense hardass as the world he creates, and that’s why this works so damn well. If you want something original, compelling, smart, violent, and yet beautiful at the same time, I implore you to grab a copy of this one.
2. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
And now for something completely different, Cline’s first-person love letter to all things 1980s. I was never the biggest gamer back in the day, and even less so now for that matter, but I was very familiar with the Atari and video arcade staples of my youth – Qbert, Pac-Man, Missle Defense, Galaga, etc., so there was enough here I could recognize. There are also several old school game references in this one that didn’t resonate with me, but enough ’80s movie minutiae to make me do a little pee-pee in my pants. I really dug the nostalgia and consider this to be a perfect read for an ’80s child like myself. Good times.
3. Nightjack, by Tom Piccirilli
Back to the darkness, this is a story of a guy with dissociative identity disorder who tries to solve his wife’s murder while juggling his multiple identities in his head, each of which is written as a separate character. In lesser hands, this would be a mess, but Piccirilli does a marvelous job of making each identity their own person, with an arc that fits into the puzzle of a plot. Great writing, great characters, and a tense, violent crime story that has me wondering why it took me this long to read something from ‘Pic’.
4. Rico Slade Will Fucking Kill You, by Bradley Sands
Another personality disorder type story wherein a popular action movie star can’t suppress his ultra-macho, throat-ripping asshole of a character, the eponymous Rico Slade. Funny, but with some surprising heart for what initially appears to be a simple Bizarro weirdfest. (Read my original review here)
Those are the four books from 2011 that I dug the most. Other releases from this year that I enjoyed, are worth mentioning, and definitely worth your time are: Flashback, by Dan Simmons; Hooray For Death, by Mykle Hansen; Already Gone, by John Rector; Crab Town, by Carlton Mellick III; Embedded, by Dan Abnett