Posted by: Matt Compton | March 20, 2007

2007 in books (so far)

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read 80 books before 2008. I’m about 100 pages away from finishing number 15, and of course, we are moving through week 11. I’m a little bit behind schedule, but so far, I’ve been really, really pleased with what this new year has to offer. If you feel so inclined, you can follow my progress here.

Three standout debut novels:

Finn by Jon Clinch — Clinch’s novel probes the humanity of Pap Finn — Huckleberry’s father. While the story bumps up against Twain’s material and sometimes collides right into it, Clinch mostly uses the familiar setting and characters as a way to amplify a new voice that is distinctive and original.

Lost City Radio by Daniel Alarcon — Alarcon spins out a tight, moving story about a radio show in an unnamed South American city in the aftermath of a decade-long civil war. The story focuses on three characters and what they lost during the fighting. There isn’t a wasted word, and the narrative is nothing but fluid, but the themes are expansive and offer a complex and important view of reality.

Then We Came to the End by Josha Ferris — A third of the way through the novel, we meet a copywriter at an advertising firm during the dot-com bust who is writing a small, angry book about work because he’s interested in what it means about modern life. While Ferris’ book is about also work and modern life, it is big and smart and funny and wears its anger lightly. The narrators are the entire office, and the story is told in the first-person plural, but it’s a gimmick that works. And while the story is bitingly funny, it’s not satire. Instead it’s something larger and more entertaining.


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