Friday, January 5, 2007

1994 - Best Books of the Year

Henderson the Rain King, Saul Bellows
Surprise after surprise in the language, like a phenomenally gifted acrobat. Feat after feat but all within the circus tent, a brother to the clowns in the sawdust. A likable foolish grotesque for hero and an energizing story. 341 pages.

Women in Prehistory, Margaret Ehrenberg
Exciting real evidence of what women did in the early days of this earth. 192 pages.

Woman the Gatherer, ed. Frances Dahlberg
Changes the standard ideas of cavemen dragging their women about by the hair. 264 pages.

Oh, What a Paradise it Seems and Wapshot Chronicles, John Cheever
Dismaying in their effortlessness. Humorous and heartbreaking by turns. Deals with sex so simply and with such dignity, but his women are Greek goddesses and not human. 112 and 307 pages.

Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto
A short novel about grief. Very innocently written, clean and clear, delightfully fresh. 152 pages.

Letters to a Young Poet, Rainier Maria Rilke translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell
Great poetic passages. Detailing what it means to choose to write. 108 pages.

The Brontes: Charlotte Bronte and Her Family, Rebecca Fraser
Biography of the Bronte family. Very readable, fascinating subject. 543 pages.

Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories, Jenny Uglow
Well-written biography of an interesting woman writer. 690 pages.

The Wild Iris, Louise Gluck
Beautiful spare poems. 63 pages.

Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood
Novel of growing up in Toronto. Atwood is always worth reading but this is the story she’s been trying to tell in most of her previous books. 446 pages.

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