At the beginning of this quickly dwindling year, I proudly set myself some lofty literary goals: read at least 50 books and read all of Salman Rushdie. I will hold my head high and admit that I accomplished neither. Shame (also the name of a Rushdie novel I failed to read this year). With only three days left of 2011, my personal tally stands at 40 titles consumed – six of them belonging to Mr. Rushdie’s repertoire. Despite the plummeted pledge, over the last twelve months I have greedily enjoyed some fantastic words, my friends – delicious like a sweet syrup (or Nutella, which is also very magical) – and suffered under the crushing burden of some never-ending and undeniably painful collections of word vomit. Either way, reading is a dear pleasure that I will forever espouse for our sound-byte laden society. Even those terrors of typography are better for your brain than Jersey Shore (except Twilight). With the New Year shimmering in all its untapped glory around the corner, make this the year you choose to spend just a touch less time wired in and tuned out and resolve to hold a love affair with the book.
Kick start your 2012 with these 5 choice titles from my own personal list of reads from 2011.
V by Thomas Pynchon
There is a masochist that lay dormant in all of us somewhere, breathing like a fiend and only surfacing for brief and unexpected moments of our life. V is a cramp. A cramp somewhere deep in the belly that aches like an ailing organ. An example of Hysterical Realism (a cousin to Magical Realism, which we will visit soon), you are a masochist if you finish this book. Follow the winding, weird and oh-so-confusing path of Benny Profane in his search for the mysterious lady, V. It’s long, it’s irksome and when it is over you will breathe an incredibly deep and satisfying sigh of relief – more like a scratching gulp of air after being nearly drowned. That being said, it is a pain that becomes familiar and comfortable, a tummy-ache that rather hurts so good and is oddly missed when it is finally cured. While you may not ultimately like it, V will shadow you like a quiet shade long after the last page.
The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie
One of my Rushdies, and a fine example of why I love him. Although not nearly pumped with the same swelling, exhausting and – dare I say? – orgasmic energy of its earlier counterpart, Midnight’s Children, Rushdie is a master character writer and can twist the coming-of-age tale to its limits like no other madman. An example of Magical Realism (my favorite genre, although I’m sure you already know this by now), the book hinges slightly – nay ridiculously – on the absurd towards the end, but does not fail to impart a buttery, fever-inducing story with a creamy rich filling – as well as some damn good prose. It is rather large, and you will need to coax it out of the gate just a bit, but see it through to the end. It will feel good and warm in your stomach like a nice, whimsical pastry.