I'm a close second though... Just finished 11 for the year! In summation, a brief review of the last four books:
8. Paul en Appartement (Paul Moves Out)
I read this graphic novel by Michel Rebagliatti in its original French version (with the occasional help of ye good olde french-eng dictionary). It's part of an autobiographical series about the author growing up in Montreal during the 1980's and this particular issue chronicles the experience of moving into his first apartment with his girlfriend. Most of the novel takes place in the Plateau area where I live, so it's a treat to see how familiar landmarks are portrayed by Rebagliatti's retro-elegant style. Like any day-to-day events in the life of a normal twenty-something year old, a lot and nothing much happens, but Rebagliatti is a gifted storyteller-artist and renders even the most banal moments an engaging read.
9. The Magic Toyshop
This is an early novel by British author, Angela Carter, who's probably best known for The Bloody Chamber, a feminist and adult reworking of classic fairy-tales. "The Company of Wolves", Carter's blend of Little Red Riding Hood and the werewolf legend became the 1984 film of the same name by Neil Jordan. The Magic Toyshop is a coming of age story about a newly orphaned teenage girl who, along with her younger brother and sister, go to live with their tyrannical uncle and his strange family. Although there's no magic to be found in the uncle's toyshop, the story is told in Carter's detached, ethereal style. I kept forgetting that the story takes place in London during the 1960’s (when this book was written) because the setting was so Dickensian. Although I wasn’t blown away, I’m glad I finally read this book, which hints at the dark surreal quality of some of her later work, such as The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and Heroes and Villains.
10. Appointment in Samarra
An excellent classic by John O'Hara about how frighteningly easy it is to: make enemies, alienate your wife, become a reckless driver and social pariah, and best of all, just plain self-destruct, all within a span of three days in depression-era New England. One moment you're making the tallest highball in the world, the next moment... well, you'll have to read it to find out what happens. Tight, scathing and complex. In Time Magazine's Top 100. Need I say more.
11. Motherless Brooklyn
A highly enjoyable holiday read. I’m not familiar at all with the hard-boiled genre, but this book plays like a hip, comic detective novel featuring, uh, an unlikely protagonist with Tourette's syndrome. Yeah yeah, you're saying to yourself, sounds very promising... Well yes, Lionel is the tourettic narrator and yes, his speech is punctuated by sporadic outbursts of twitching and nonsensical cussing. But somehow, Lethem succeeds in making him likable and articulate. No small feat. Lionel is one of four teenage orphans picked up by Frank, a small-time mobster recruit, to do the occasional odd job. About 15 years later, they're still doing odd jobs for Frank, now under the guise of a car service-slash-detective agency. When the boss gets murdered, the motley crew is divided by degrees of loyalty and ineptitude. So it’s up to Lionel to find Frank’s killer! As people write him off as a harmless idiot, Lionel digs deeper into layers of betrayal and corruption that take him beyond his Brooklyn hood. He even gets laid. Eat me, Bailey!