The 2005 Book of the Year

Published in Slope

In a year of wonderful books, the one that affected me most was this year's literary high pointmy favorite new nonfiction book (also this the years most awesome sex, drug and shock & awe book and its the best book of quote recent history unquote) is a sweeping indictment of the war on terror and a dating guide for lonely peaceniks plusits a real scream and its the best kind of biographya novel that blends psychological apertures with judicious rendering of our chronicleyes, it rends and its the genuine deal and so real I could almost smell the oil-for-food on the spit.  

This is a book with movie deal written all over it.  

You don't have to be a reader to read this titleMovie Deala meditation on the modern condition (I don't really know how to explain it without giving it awayanywayI got it for freewhy not you!)!

This is a book sure to spawn sequels with plausible characters with complex psychologies (Hello Mister Penn!) in a brainy framework that rises organically from the non-leavened world, like: children at an odd boarding school, likable victims (Hello Mister Freeman!), transcendentalists, a beltway Babbitt, a classical pianist turned rag noodler in a flooded city much like New Orleans, an aesthete named Hotshot, a libertine Viagra-falling for Kate Moss (Hello Miss Johannson!), ira(Q)scible insurgents, two sisters vying for the love of a haute boho journo hero embedded in the Pentagon and a valiant prosecutor-type who inhales industrial-strength Dominican cigars with a geeky lady lawyer wielding her briefcase (and does she have briefs to wield!) for truth with a small tee (I don't really know how to explain this without giving it away)but, in the end I cant agree with me more: this book has movie deal written all over it!

The author nails the details: toiletries, spoons, the bathroom that was the site of the most exciting exchanges of fluids going on in early 21st-century America, the feel of cold pizza box against a warm tongue, the vulgar rage of a Catullus-like underwear model cum Army Reserves master sergeant (va-va-voom!), white cotton sheets, that new-prosthetic smell, sunrise, sunset, the taste of deodorant stick in the morning, plastic butter knives, crme brle, the moon and the sun and the sauna and the moonwowsyit is what it is I am what I am.

The author is a girl with boyish enthusiasm and a novelist to boot who has written a memoir with real poetry, but dont worry, this isnt real poetry, its a book about people who feel as deep as poets (I don't really know how to explain them without giving them awaypleasetake them!) and who speak truly tremendous truthswar is what sex waswowsythis book would blow up the small screen.

She writers writer.

Im a readers reader.

Game.  Set.  Matches.  Burn baby, burn.

She captures the psycho-dynamics of our teen-Rilkean age performing 'Us and Them' at the school talent show without understanding our transformation from model military students to racist, rapist killers and congressmen from Montana (we all can relate to thatonly real men bareback!)!

She understands sadness, yes, truly and clearlyding-dong,

She made me sad.

I own books.

I own books that are passionate, books that engage me and we struggle tooth and nail-the-details to the wall like coup and reading her is like arguing with a brilliant, impossible friend who is just like me, and isnt that weird?   Isnt it bizarre that what thrilled me about your ass and the war and this book were qualities that would have been taken for granted in a book of poetic creative non-fiction 300 or 40o years ago: um, I better not say, I dont want to give away the plot to my favorite book this year, which happens to be one that Ive read and its always useful to read, but especially for anyone, like me, a man who bends and curls and sprains and distorts and rotates and twists words for a living to think about how powerful language can be and language rocks and reading, too and reading books in a year of wonderful, poetic books (dont worry, this book isnt poetry its just poeticexcept like trueplus, the author is sensationally successful, a real winnerplus its a fascinating story, to boot, with convincing, authentic,  bona-fide details, like,  the morning sun lit the white box that once caressed a Chicago-style pizza and now held black underwear as the insurgents began shelling our dormitory.


Its rich and satisfying.

Its an affluent and sated tale about fighting the good fight and, it turns out to be readable, too!   And smart, toobut not too smart.  And fair-minded but not PC and its a thoughtful read and a really cogent articulation of a period when periods were put into the service of meaning to compel portraits of one of the most unforgettable protagonists in American literature (someone like me, someone like you but naked).

This book is sturdy and enthralling and contemptible, but the good contemptible.  I found myself thinking about this book as I was reading it in one sitting.  And yet it's truly strange: lipstick mates with rouge and passion and gives birth to the taxonomy of heartache as the ravages of loss crackle with sexy vigor (Hello Mister Mortensen!) laced with intelligence and street smarts (a lot of useful stuff you cant learn from books) in a book about the human state, the human form, and with real detailsshe nailed meand insights.

This is a book that will incite you to take up arms against a sea of tranquility.  Its stunning luminosity chills (hello Mister Glenlivet!) and its incredibly sad and laugh-out-loud funny, too, a hootlike my life.

Invite your hot hot neighbor to see the film adaptationand thank me later.

This is the only book I knowmaybe War and Peace, too, maybe Ill watch that next yearwhose reality is more substantial than my life.

last updated Friday, August 04, 2006 @ 11:41 AM