Now here, for your ease of browsing, are the books I read in 2012, listed in reverse order they were Tweeted, which is to say chronologically with the most recent first.
My favorite book of the year was Habibi, the gorgeous new-ish graphic novel from Craig Thompson (Blankets, another masterpiece). Habibi swallowed me whole; I'm somewhere in its snake esophagus still. So I was a little surprised when I looked up the critical response prior to this blog post and found that it got panned by The New York Times and derided as racist by Racialicious.
To me, Thompson was clearly and knowingly wading in Orientalism and fantasy Arabia. (If he wasn't, well, that'd be a problem.) I suppose only Joe Sacco-type documentarians are allowed to consider the Middle East and Islam? And when such subjects are broached, one must do so at an emotional remove and with equal time given to all possible perspectives? And only by non-Westerners?
No. Habibi is a work of fiction, not a textbook. And, though artistically beautiful in general, it depicts the brutalization and exploitation of women, children, and men. If it included such acts but fled from the scenes without showing them/showing them demurely, that is what would be worthy of criticism. No one escapes Habibi unscathed, and Thompson achieves a baptismal degradation: It's a human coming-of-age story both universal and specific, taking place over millennia, where hope is achieved only after swimming a river of shit. Sounds to me more honest about the human condition than 99 percent of anything else I've read.
I had seen the movie and cried a fair bit about what happens in it (no spoilers), so I knew what the bad juju going on was. But I was unprepared for how upsetting it would be to read it. Ishiguro has created a novel that's relentlessly nostalgic for a sci-fi alternative 20th century that never existed. He managed to make me despair for a loss of humanity's soul that never happened. And somehow made that feel like nostalgia. It's almost uncomprehendingly brilliant. I still struggle to process the novel.
Anyway, it took me a long time to read it — far longer than the novel's length would suggest. Hence, part of the reason why my total number of books read is pretty low.
A housekeeping note for the list: I've aired out the entries a little since I'm not as limited in space on the blog as I was on Twitter.
Seems to me like such a thing should live somewhere all together. Here they are, listed in order they were Tweeted, which is to say chronologically.
My favorite book of the year was the 29th. (See below, obviously.) It's one of the best books I've ever read.
Two housekeeping notes: I've aired out a few abbreviations since I'm now not as limited in space as I was on Twitter. And also, in re-editing the list for the blog, I found that I had missed one book: Volume 7 of Hellboy. I added to the list and renumbered to accommodate it.
72. Forty-Five by Andi Ewington. Excellent superhero plot is really a brilliant look at parenthood.
71. One Damn Thing After Another by Ron Evans. Book of short stories by a dear friend and Memphian.
70. The Foul Rag and Boneshop of the Heart by Ron Evans. Book of poetry by a dear friend and Memphian.
69. Batman: Turning Points by Rucka, Brubaker, Dixon & others. Great writers covering classic ground.
68. Citizen Rex by Mario & Gilbert Hernandez. Favorite artist saddled with loopy sci-fi story.