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If 2008 was my year to champion small press books, catalyzed by Joe Meno’s The Boy Detective Fails (Punk Planet Books) and resulting with exploration into the Akashic Books and Featherproof Books catalogues; then 2009 was The Year of The Western and Southern Gothic Traditions.
My love affair with Cormac McCarthy is well documented. I am a recovering McCarthy addict, doing my best to keep his books at arm’s length, but occasionally relapsing. (Full disclosure: I am in the middle of a relapse right now, reading Blood Meridian for the third time in less than a year.) In 2008 I dabbled; a casual, recreational user. I read No Country for Old Men and The Road , but had it under control. I enjoyed them, but wasn’t mentally ready to make the commitment to full blown addiction. Things were going too well. I had a varied reading appetite, strong relationships in my life, a valued work ethic. Then came the winter of 2009. The Winter of My Discontent(ed Addiction). Beginning with Suttree in January and ending with the last of the Border Trilogy, Cities of the Plain in May. After that it was all downhill, as you will see below. I became solely affixed to Westerns and Southern Gothic Fiction. Some were good, some were bad; none held a candle to McCarthy. Oscar Wilde and William Burroughs wrote some of their best work while addicted to opiates. I surely won’t contend I wrote anything of that caliber; however I did make some literary discoveries under the influence of McCarthy, namely Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. Without further perambulations, here is my list…
Here is my top eleven of the year:
11. One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash
10. Light in August by William Faulkner
9. Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor
8. The Wild Palms; If I Forget Thee Jerusalem by William Faulkner
7. The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy
6. Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy
5. All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
4. Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy
3. The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy
2. Suttree by Cormac McCarthy
1. Blood Meridian by (you guessed it) Cormac McCarthy