Monday, November 23, 2009

Seven Literary Things I'm Thankful for This Year

In honor of this week's Thanksgiving, I decided to do a list appropriate for the holiday. Here is my list of all the book-related things I am super-thankful for in the year 2009.

1. Marilynne Robinson - I'm not sure any other author's prose has had such an affect on me ever. Her writing is so perfect that it's devastating. Even better, Robinson's three novels - Housekeeping, Gilead, and Home - are some of the finest things I've ever had the pleasure to read. All of them are full of truth about life and cover so many important bases (life and death, tragedy and hope, guilt and redemption). Robinson's the first novelist since I was in high school to have such a profound affect on me as both a writer and a person.

2. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman - No more needs to be said about this book than I've said here a million times before. I'm thankful this book came around at the time it did because it's entertaining and funny and bittersweet and everything I needed during an emotionally confusing time.

3. Anne Carson interacting with Anna Akhmatova in Carson's "TV Men: Akhmatova" - Probably the most important literary discovery I made this year was my newfound love for women writers. I spent years preferring the work of men, but for some reason, as I've gotten older and realized just how much being an independently-minded woman means to me, I've found that female writers are much closer to my own voice . Being able to read a poem where Anne Carson, contemporary critic and poet, carries on a kind of dialogue with Anna Akhmatova of what it means to be a female writer taking part in a pained society, really meant something to me.

4. This blog's first annual Fitzgerald Week - I don't know about you guys, but I had a blast with September's week-long celebration of my favorite writer's birthday. F. Scott Fitzgerald is The Shit, and I was sooo happy to celebrate his work with fellow readers.

5. Confessing my love for fanfiction - It's been a secret passion for a couple years now, but this summer I finally realized that I could admit I loved reading fanfiction, consequences be damned. I'll say it again: I love fanfiction, especially the Supernatural Brotherhood AU series I mentioned a few months ago.

6. Pete Dexter's prose in Spooner - I wouldn't call Spooner a favorite book necessarily, but man, was it a fun read. I'm extremely envious of writers like Dexter, who can manage to make you laugh and cry with a single simple sentence. He's not the master prose artist or truthteller that Marilynne Robinson is, but at the time I read it, Spooner really took me out of my own life, which is exactly what good fiction should do.

7. Philip Larkin's Collected Poems - How could I call myself a poetry fan without Larkin in my life all this time? After buying his Collected Poems on a lark (heh), I couldn't stop reading it. His stuff is simple and hardly says anything groundbreaking (unlike, say, Rilke, who is ridiculously original), but the way he presents his work through rhythm and meter and heightened language is extremely admirable. Plus, the man knows how to make an emotional gut-punch in his endings like no other.

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving and are thankful for your own literary moments this year. Feel free to share them below!


  1. I am thankful for all of the wonderful literary things to which you have exposed me this year!!!

  2. Thanks, Amy! It's nice to know that I'm just writing into a giant vacuum.

    And your comment reminds me of one thing I left off the list: I am thankful for Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne in Persuasion!

  3. I mean NOT writing into a giant vacuum. Oops.