Justin Taylor’s Favorite Reads from 2011

Justin Taylor is the author of The Gospel of Anarchy and Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever. Check him out at http://www.justindtaylor.net

These next books are mostly titles published this year, but also a few things that I finally got around to.

The Bigger World by Noelle Kocot
A wonderful, bizarre, epiphanic collection. Each poem is a little blast of well-bent wisdom—and fun, too! Some good points of comparison from the fiction world might be Lydia Davis, Diane Williams, and Lou Beach, but really it’s its own awesome thing.

Nobody Ever Gets Lost by Jess Row
A finely wrought collection of short stories linked by theme and moment rather than by character or place. Enormous empathy and scope. I praised it to the skies in Bookforum: http://bookforum.com/review/8374.

And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould
I liked the episodic structure and I loved the voice—not overly self-assured, not affectedly blasé, but alert from within a calm. It reads like a nonfiction novel (maybe a novel-in-stories). I thought of Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel, Eileen Myles’s Inferno, Barry Hannah’s Boomerang.

The Marbled Swarm by Dennis Cooper
Finally, a new Dennis Cooper novel! Just gonna quote my own blurb here, because I meant it when I said it: “The Marbled Swarm is a mind-bending masterpiece from one of my all-time favorite writers. It is vivid, slippery, ferocious, and rich with secrets. Nobody else could have written this novel and nothing else like it exists.”

Humboldt’s Gift, Herzog, and Collected Stories by Saul Bellow
This was my year for discovering Bellow. I mean yes, I knew about him before, but this was the year I really got him—and then couldn’t get enough of him. Such intelligence! Such style! Such vitality! Such heart!

Ten More:

The Shadow of a Great Rock by Harold Bloom

The Professor and Other Writings by Terry Castle

The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories by Don DeLillo

Disaster Was My God by Bruce Duffy

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson

Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner

Coeur de Lion by Ariana Reines

Jeremy Schmall and the Cult of Comfort by Jeremy Schmall

You Think That’s Bad by Jim Shepard

The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff

All Authors’ and Editors’ Favorite Reads of 2011

The Introduction