As for that Millions list of the best books of the past decade… i don’t have much right to comment on that. It turns out that I haven’t read all that much that’s been published so recently, but might as well give it a go:

  • Gilead. Intend to read it sooner or later, but it seems a little too quiet for my tastes.
  • Stranger Things Happen. Like Magic for Beginners better, if only because it includes a story about zombies shopping at a convenience store.
  • The Fortress of Solitude. It’s half of a pretty good book.
  • Middlesex. It was on the TBR list, but there are too many people too enthusiastic about it who have read some spectacularly boring books. So i pass…
  • Atonement. Bullshit. McEwan is bullshit.
  • The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Oh, for fuck’s sake. I’ve made my feelings clear on this before.
  • Never Let Me Go. If you work in a bookstore long enough, and put a certain book on a feature table because of a marketing directive so many times, you lose any desire to want to read that book. That said, it seems mildly interesting.
  • The Road. Really? It was entertaining, but it hasn’t haunted me as the end all of post-apocalyptic literature like many people. Maybe i played too much Gamma World as a kid.  More cannibalism than Thundarr the Barbarian though.
  • Pastoralia. George Saunders used to seem awesome. He’s too much of a New Yorker staple now, and i preferred CivilWarLand in Bad Decline anyway. He ran that theme park schtick into the ground.
  • 2666. It might wind up on top for me, if i had a proper list, even though i know it’s really a mess. It’s one of my most memorable reads this decade.
  • The Corrections. Blah. Unlike McEwan, i haven’t actually read much Franzen, but he also seems to represent what i despise in contemporary literature.

Stuff that i was surprised isn’t on there:

  • Snow. Orhan Pamuk. Heh. Still have held off reading it, but read everything else of his. Wasn’t Pamuk a lot more popular a few years ago?
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Michael Chabon. It came out in 2000. This list goes up to 2009. Doesn’t it fall into the time range of the list, and the taste of the some of the selectors?
  • Remainder. Tom McCarthy. Isn’t this still a critical darling or is it just a weird art scene thing?

It’s not a list that I feel particularly strongly about now though. It’ll take awhile before the real classics shake out.

6 thoughts on “on that Best Fiction of the ’00s list

  1. Have not looked at the Millions’ list (and am in general not much for such lists) but yeah, utterly flabbergasted that Snow would not be on it. I’m surprised that K&C came out in 2000 — I read it a couple of years back and was somehow under the impression that I was reading a book from the 90’s… If you can overcome your bookstore-based aversion, Never Let Me Go is a fantastic book.

  2. I like Ishiguro but do not think Never Let Me Go is all that good. I read Gilead. It was a gift. It was better than I expected. Have been meaning to get to Snow, Fortress and Remainder. Will likely pick up 2666 someday.


  3. Nice post and totally agree with you about McEwan, Franzen, Lethem and Bolano. I think Tom McCarthy’s star will rise once again and pull “Remainder” back up with it when his new novel comes out.

    I’d have picked “My Loose Thread” by Dennis Cooper. It’s his best by far. Other possible contenders: Some Cesar Aira, “Senselessness” by Moya, “Drop Edge of Yonder” by Rudy Wurlitzer, “The Quick & The Dead” by Joy Williams.

  4. “Tranquility” by Bartis, “Senselessness” by Moya, “Snow” (despite the fact that I was disappointed by it…I’ll need to reread it, I guess), and “Remainder”. McCarthy’s new novel will be a sort of miniature watershed imo. I’m very curious to see what McCarthy will show us.

    Oscar Wao, while mildly entertaining and a quick read, will disappear within a decade. Not snarking, really, but I just don’t get the love.

  5. yeah! Cesar Aira belongs on there! not sure which one, but he’s firmly of this decade. i’ve read only two of his novels though, and not sure which really belongs….. connected more with Landscape Artist. I forgot about Vila-Matas too. Why not Bartleby & Co?

    Remembered Senselessness, but its omission was purely because Bill was bound to mention it.

    Drop Edge of Yonder sounds interesting. Never read any Wurlitzer, but well familiar with the films based on his work, although i was ignorant of that until looking him up.

  6. Bartleby & Co./Enrique Vila-Matas
    Tree Of Smoke/Denis Johnson
    Shadow Country/Peter Matthiesen

    Also think Inherent Vice/Thomas Pynchon should be Top 5, but others may disagree. It stays with you. Gilead is a very interesting selection.

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