Tuesday, December 30, 2008

advice to writers, 2009 (a graphic blog, part 8)

Okay. I know I said before that I am grateful for books, but on day 22 of The Gratitude Experiment, I'm going to be a little more specific. I'm going to talk about my picks for the five best books of 2008, all of which, I may add, I am better off for having read.

This list may disappoint you on a number of levels. First of all, I am not going to list the titles or authors. I am just going to write a short comment on each book. If you can guess what books they are, you win a prize. If you're not ugly, maybe it will be a date with me or something cool that will change your life forever.

The other thing is, in all honesty, I'd put Ghost Medicine on that list, because it is good, but these five books exclude my own efforts. Also, I'm pretty sure that these books don't show up on other "Best of 2008" lists (and I read A LOT of such lists, which makes me wonder how much work truly gets read by certain reviewer-types, as opposed to regurgitated/passed around/or wait-and-see-Oprah's-picks kind of thing going on...) That means, without a doubt, because I read so damned much, that my list is the best.

So, here goes:

5. Outstanding story, told in a very different format that really seemed to stretch the author's craft. Nice job, and it makes my list at number five.

4. Very brave book. I think it will make an impact on many lives. I know a book is good when I think about it as much as I did this one. I could tell the author was writing about an unfamiliar setting, though (I think), because the author got some things wrong. Still, that's excusable, and the book makes my list.

3. Nice job. Funny and smart, and I really enjoyed it. Now I think it's time for you to start writing something with a different plot and different characters, as opposed to writing THE SAME STORY (but you're still a good writer) in a new setting, with new names, and new hairstyles.

2. The first hundred or so pages were amazing. Then I started wondering if you were pulling my leg; mocking the conventions of the art form you were creating. Some of your conventions got a little too predictable, but, all in all, a remarkable story and a monumentally brave effort.

1. It is sad that I haven't seen this book on ANY lists, or talked about in ANY forum. It was brilliant and horrifying, and I couldn't put it down. As much as I wanted to grab your characters and shake some sense into them, it was like slowly driving by a car crash and being mesmerized by the pretty colors. That said, I think you could have ended the novel without including the last two chapters. To me, they were unnecessary, but I understand how a writer sometimes can't let go of certain things. Also, some conventions and word choices echoed with annoying frequency. Still, by far, the best book of 2008.

Day 22