What I read in 2016

Well, it was a good year for reading– at least partially because I got rid of the internet. I read 136 books, I think? Though I’m probably forgetting a couple.

A few of my favorites (not including books by people I know): The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder, My Lord Bag of Rice: New and Selected Stories by Carol Bly, Patternmaster by Octavia Butler, A Kind of Flying: Selected Stories by Ron Carlson, About Writing by Samuel Delany, The U.S.A. Trilogy by John Dos Passos, The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, Immobility and Father of Lies by Brian Evenson, The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century edited by Tony Hillerman & Otto Penzler, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies by John Langan, The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette, The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami, Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper by Art & Laurie Pepper, The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard, American Fantastic Tales, Volume 1: Poe to the Pulps edited by Peter Straub, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, and Cockfighter by Charles Willeford.

A few of my favorite stories: “Good and Bad” by Lucia Berlin, “The Tomcat’s Wife” by Carol Bly, “Golden Baby” by Alice Brown, “Amnesty” by Octavia Butler, “The Moment of Decision” by Stanley Ellin, “Black Bark” by Brian Evenson, “The Prelate’s Commission” by Jeffrey Ford, “The Gutting of Couffignal” by Dashiell Hammett, “You Become the Neighborhood” by Glen Hirshberg, “The Music Copyist” by Spencer Holst, “Vintage Season” by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore, “The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan, “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link, “Sleep” by Haruki Murakami, “Hippocampus” by Adam Nevill, “Inconstant Moon” by Larry Niven, and pretty much every single story in the collection A Kind of Flying by Ron Carlson.

My least favorite book I read this year was The Players and the Game by Julian Symons, which I read because it was on the H.R.F. Keating list of the 100 Best Mysteries of All Time. I read a lot of books off that list, and got more and more confused, until I finally decided that whoever H.R.F. Keating is, our tastes are Very Different. I do, on the other hand, highly recommend The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century, edited by Hillerman & Penzler, which was nothing but a joy from beginning to end.

Reading goals for next year: more stories, fewer novels, lots of non-fiction.

Anyway, here’s the whole list:

Alling, Meredith. Sing the Song
Allingham, Margery. The Tiger in the Smoke
Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey
Bachelder, Chris. The Throwback Special
Baldwin, James. Another Country
Banks, Iain M. The Player of Games
Bardin, John Franklin. Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly
Bardin, John Franklin. The Deadly Percheron
Barron, Laird, ed. Year’s Best Weird Fiction Vol. 1
Barron, Laird. The Croning

Beatty, Paul. The Sellout
Bellow, Saul. The Adventures of Augie March
Blackwood, Algernon. The Complete John Silence Stories
Blake, Nicholas. The Private Wound
Bloch, Robert. The Dead Beat
Bly, Carol. My Lord Bag of Rice: New and Selected Stories
Brand, Christiana. Green for Danger
Brown, Fredric. Here Comes a Candle
Brown, Fredric. His Name Was Death
Brown, Fredric. The Fabulous Clipjoint

Brown, Fredric. The Far Cry
Butler, Octavia. Bloodchild and Other Stories
Butler, Octavia. Kindred
Butler, Octavia. Patternmaster
Butler, Robert Olen, and Masih, Tara, eds. The Best Small Fictions 2015
Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead
Carlson, Ron. A Kind of Flying
Castro, Adam-Troy. Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories
Chandler, Raymond. The High Window
Chase, Joan. During the Reign of the Queen of Persia

Chaze, Elliott. Black Wings Has My Angel
Clarke, Arthur C. The Fountains of Paradise
Cline, Emma. The Girls
Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone
Compton-Burnett, Ivy. The Mighty and Their Fall
Cross, Amanda. Death in a Tenured Position
Crumley, James. The Last Good Kiss
Datlow, Ellen, ed. The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4
Datlow, Ellen, ed. The Best Horror of the Year Vol. 8
De Camp, L Sprague, and F Pratt. The Incomplete Enchanter

Delany, Samuel. About Writing
Delany, Samuel. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
Delany, Samuel. The Ballad of Beta-2
Delany, Samuel. The Jewels of Aptor
Dickinson, Peter. The Glass-Sided Ants’ Nest
Didion, Joan. Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Dos Passos, John. The 42nd Parallel
Dos Passos, John. 1919
Dos Passos, John. The Big Money
Dunsany, Lord. The King of Elfland’s Daughter

Dunsany, Lord. Time and the Gods
Ellin, Stanley. The Specialty of the House: The Complete Mystery Stories 1948-1978
Eustis, Helen. The Horizontal Man
Evenson, Brian. A Collapse of Horses
Evenson, Brian. Altmann’s Tongue
Evenson, Brian. Father of Lies
Evenson, Brian. Immobility
Evenson, Brian. Last Days
Everett, Percival. I Am Not Sidney Poitier
Farrell, James T. Young Lonigan

Fleming, Joan. Young Man, I Think You’re Dying
Ford, Jeffrey. A Natural History of Hell
Ford, Jeffrey. Crackpot Palace
Gordimer, Nadine. The Late Bourgeois World
Hamsun, Knut. Growth of the Soil
Hansen, Joseph. Skinflick
Hartwell, David, ed. The World Treasury of Science Fiction
Heinlein, Robert. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Hempel, Amy. Reasons to Live
Hillerman, Tony, and Otto Penzler, eds. The Best American Mystery Stories of the Century

Himes, Chester. A Rage in Harlem
Himes, Chester. Blind Man With a Pistol
Holst, Spencer. The Language of Cats and Other Stories
Houllebecq, Michel. Platform
Houston, Pam. Cowboys Are My Weakness
Hubbard, L Ron. Final Blackout
James, P.D. The Black Tower
Johnson, Adam. Fortune Smiles
Jones, Stephen Graham. Mongrels
King, Stephen. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Langan, John. The Fisherman
Langan, John. The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies
Leckie, Ann. Ancillary Justice
Link, Kelly. Magic for Beginners
MacDonald, John D. The Green Ripper
Mamatas, Nick. I Am Providence
Manchette, Jean-Patrick. The Mad and the Bad
McClanahan, Scott. The Incantations of Daniel Johnston
McKillip, Patricia. Ombria in Shadow
McMurtry, Larry. All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers

Millar, Margaret. Beast in View
Millar, Margaret. Beyond This Point are Monsters
Mirrlees, Hope. Lud-in-the-Mist
Moorcock, Michael. The Black Corridor
Moore, Lorrie. Self-Help
Morrell, David. The Totem
Murakami, Haruki. The Elephant Vanishes
Murphy, Pat. The Falling Woman
Nevill, Adam. The Ritual
Nguyen, Viet Thanh. The Sympathizer

O’Hara, John. The Lockwood Concern
Olmstead, Robert. Coal Black Horse
Pepper, Art & Laurie. Straight Life: The Art Pepper Story
Pohl, Frederick. Jem
Powers, Tim. Last Call
Rendell, Ruth. A Judgement in Stone
Ross, Adam. Ladies and Gentlemen
Sayers, Dorothy. The Nine Tailors
Shepard, Lucius. Green Eyes
Shepard, Lucius. The Dragon Griaule

Simenon, Georges. My Friend Maigret
Sims, George. The Last Best Friend
Spillaine, Mickey, and Collins, Max Allan, eds. A Century of Noir: Thirty-Two Classic Crime Stories
Stapledon, Olaf. Last and First Men
Stark, Richard. The Jugger
Stark, Richard. The Man with the Getaway Face
Stark, Richard. The Mourner
Stark, Richard. The Outfit
Stark, Richard. The Score
Stefano, Karen. The Secret Games of Words

Straub, Peter, ed. American Fantastic Tales, Volume 1: Poe to the Pulps
Straub, Peter. Koko
Symons, Julian. The Players and the Game
Tepper, Sheri. Beauty
Tey, Josephine. The Franchise Affair
Tremblay, Paul. A Head Full of Ghosts
Uhnak, Dorothy. The Investigation
Wambaugh, Joseph. The Glitter Dome
Warren, Robert Penn. All the King’s Men
Westlake, Donald. Nobody’s Perfect

White, Ethel Lina. The Wheel Spins (The Lady Vanishes)
Willeford, Charles. Cockfighter
Willeford, Charles. Pick-up
Willingham, Calder. The Gates of Hell
Woolrich, Cornell. Night Has A Thousand Eyes
Wright, Richard. Native Son

What I Read in 2015

I started 2015 with a resolution: To read no more than 52 books. Unfortunately, I went a little over, but hey, nobody got hurt.

The best book I read this year, by far, was Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America, by Damien Ober. Just the most fun I’ve had reading a book in years. I read it twice in succession. Haven’t done that since W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, back in 2001. Still can’t believe this book doesn’t have an American publisher. YOU GUYS ARE A BUNCH OF DOLTS.

Beyond that, a couple of favorites: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Axiomatic by Greg Egan, The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, The Delicate Prey and Other Stories by Paul Bowles, Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish, The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen, Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette, Everything You Ever Wanted by Jillian Lauren, The Map and the Territory by Michel Houllebecq, Murgunstrumm and Others by Hugh B. Cave, and The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (which is probably the book I’ve most yammered on about to people– it’s just endlessly fascinating).

The best story I read this year was “The Doctor,” by Andre Dubus, which I found in his collection Separate Flights, which I read because I loved his story “The Fat Girl” in The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories— which also contained a wonderful story called “Talk of Heroes” by Carol Bly, who I’d never even heard of before! Then there was “The Thing About Shapes to Come” by Adam-Troy Castro, which just stunned me in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, plus “I, Dreamer” from The Best of Walter Miller, Jr., “Into Darkness” from Greg Egan’s Axiomatic (which should totally be a multi-billion-dollar blockbuster movie by now, what’s the hold up?), and both “The Delicate Prey” and “A Distant Episode” by Paul Bowles (both of which will probably haunt me forever).

The worst book I read this year was Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. Good Lord. That was your last chance, Thomas Pynchon.

Anyway, here’s the full list:

Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits
Anderson, Poul. The Broken Sword
Anderson, Poul. Three Hearts and Three Lions
Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain
Barnes, Julian. The Sense of an Ending
Barth, John. Lost in the Funhouse
Bear, Greg. Eon
Bloom, Amy. Come to Me
Bolt, Ranjit. A Lion was Learning to Ski

Bowles, Jane. Two Serious Ladies
Bowles, Paul. The Delicate Prey and Other Stories
Bradbury, Ray. The October Country
Braunbeck, Gary. Coffin County
Braunbeck, Gary. In Silent Graves
Brown, Fredric. Martians, Go Home
Campbell, Ramsey. The Parasite
Carlson, Ron. Ron Carlson Writes a Story
Carr, John Dickson. The Crooked Hinge
Carr, John Dickson. The Hollow Man

Cave, Hugh. Murgunstrumm and Others
Clarke, Arthur C. A Fall of Moondust
Dubus, Andre. Adultery and Other Choices
Dubus, Andre. Separate Flights
Egan, Greg. Axiomatic
Ellison, Harlan. Strange Wine
Endore, Guy. The Werewolf of Paris
Farris, John. All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By
Ferrante, Elena. The Days of Abandonment
Ferrante, Elena. The Lost Daughter

Ferrante, Elena. Troubling Love
Ferris, D.X. Reign in Blood
Glaser, Rachel. Paulina and Fran
Gotthelf, Jeremiah. The Black Spider
Gray, Amelia. Gutshot
Herbert, James. The Fog
Herbert, James. The Rats
Hill, Joe, and Adams, John Joseph, ed. The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015
Houllebecq, Michel. The Elementary Particles
Houllebecq, Michel. The Map and the Territory

Hugo, Victor. Les Miserables
Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day
Izzo, Jean-Claude. Total Chaos
Johnson, Denis. Train Dreams
Kersh, Gerald. Men Without Bones
King, Stephen. Danse Macabre
King, Stephen. Firestarter
Kotzwinkle, William. Doctor Rat
Lauren, Jillian. Everything You Ever Wanted
Le Fanu, Sheridan. Uncle Silas

Lish, Atticus. Preparation for the Next Life
Manchette, Jean-Patrick. 3 to Kill
Manchette, Jean-Patrick. Fatale
McKillip, Patricia. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Miller, Walter, Jr. The Best of Walter Miller, Jr.
Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind
Moorcock, Michael. Behold the Man
Niven, Larry. Ringworld
Nutting, Alissa. Tampa
O’Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners

Ober, Damien. Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America
Offill, Jenny. Dept of Speculation
Pancake, Breece. The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake
Patchen, Kenneth. The Journal of Albion Moonlight
Pollack, Donald Ray. Knockemstiff
Puzo, Mario. The Godfather
Pynchon, Thomas. Inherent Vice
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen
Reed, Kit. Where
Roth, Philip. The Ghost Writer

Rule, Ann. The Stranger Beside Me
Sayers, Dorothy. Gaudy Night
Sloane, William. The Edge of Running Water
Sloane, William. To Walk the Night
Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris. Hard to Be a God
Tryon, Thomas. The Other
Vinge, Verner. A Fire Upon the Deep
Wagner, Karl Edward. In a Lonely Place
Williams, Joy. The Changeling
Wolff, Tobias, Ed. The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories

Zink, Nell. The Wallcreeper
Zola, Emile. Germinal

“The TV” on Selected Shorts

You can hear my story “The TV” on Selected Shorts right now, being read by Liev Schreiber on the “Obsessive Compulsive” episode. It’s from an event at the Getty Center earlier this year. Here’s a very exciting picture of the stage I took right before it all happened:

selected shorts

You can read the story in full over at The New Yorker, where it first appeared, or find it in my collection, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day.