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David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

Books of the Year 2013

It was a pretty good year, especially for fiction. I stand no chance of ever catching up on my backlog of books to read, so these are less “Books of the Year” than “Books of My Year,” ones which happened to be published in 2013 (or late 2012). A boom in non-Waggish writing resulted in me not having time to write up some of these books, which I really do regret. I spent a month rereading old Pynchon novels alongside Bleeding Edge, which was blessedly worthwhile, but did not help my productivity. Reading list longa, vita brevis.

The order is fairly random though I have tried to put my favorites toward the top of each section. Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo was probably foreordained to be at the top, while the final appearance of Lem’s Summa Technologiae in English was a major event for me. (See my review here.) As with War and War when I first read it, I don’t have a lot to say about Seiobo right now. Maybe in ten years.

As with last year, I haven’t read the entirety of some of the nonfiction selections: Judith Herrin’s two volumes of essays will take some time, while the Maimonides book had me flagging on several topics that just aren’t my thing.

If anyone’s curious as to why some book or other made the list, feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks again for reading my work here or elsewhere.

(As always, I do not make any money from these links; they’re just the easiest way to get the thumbnails.)

 

Literature

Seiobo There Below (Ndp; 1280)
László Krasznahorkai New Directions

Towards the One and Only Metaphor
Miklos Szentkuthy Contra Mundum Press

Tapestry
Philip Terry Reality Street

Anti M
Lisa Samuels Chax Press

Blinding
Mircea Cartarescu Archipelago

Dossier K: A Memoir
Imre Kertész Melville House

Mo Said She Was Quirky: A Novel
James Kelman Other Press

When the Time Comes
Josef Winkler Contra Mundum Press

The Forbidden Kingdom (Pushkin Collection)
Jan Jacob Slauerhoff Pushkin Collection

Cannonball
Joseph McElroy Dzanc Books

Bleeding Edge
Thomas Pynchon Penguin Press

Middle C (Vintage International)
William H. Gass Vintage

All That Is
James Salter Knopf

His Wife Leaves Him
Stephen Dixon Fantagraphics Books

The Childhood of Jesus
J. M. Coetzee Viking

The Sinistra Zone
Adam Bodor New Directions

The Guy Davenport Reader
Guy Davenport Counterpoint

The Adjacent
Christopher Priest Gollancz

The Book of Monelle
Marcel Schwob Wakefield Press

Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys (Atlas Anti-classics)
Georges Perec, Michèle Audin, Marcel Bénabou, Jacques Bens, Paul Braffort Atlas Press

A Hero of Our Time (Oxford World's Classics)
Mikhail Lermontov, Nicolas Pasternak Slater, Andrew Kahn Oxford University Press

 

Nonfiction

Summa Technologiae (Electronic Mediations)
Stanislaw Lem Univ Of Minnesota Press

Nagarjuna's Middle Way: Mulamadhyamakakarika (Classics of Indian Buddhism)
Mark Siderits, Shoryu Katsura Wisdom Publications

Being, Humanity, and Understanding
G. E. R. Lloyd Oxford University Press

Savage Energies: Lessons of Myth and Ritual in Ancient Greece
Walter Burkert University of Chicago Press

Properties as Processes
Johanna Seibt Ridgeview Publishing Digital

Oral Tradition and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind
John Miles Foley University of Illinois Press

Foundations of Modern International Thought
David Armitage Cambridge University Press

Baroque Science
Ofer Gal, Raz Chen-Morris University of Chicago Press

Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield
Jeremy Scahill Nation Books

The Matter and Form of Maimonides' Guide
Josef Stern Harvard University Press

Consciousness and the Social Brain
Michael S. A. Graziano Oxford University Press

Trade and Romance
Michael Murrin University of Chicago Press

Unrivalled Influence: Women and Empire in Byzantium
Judith Herrin Princeton University Press

Margins and Metropolis: Authority across the Byzantine Empire
Judith Herrin Princeton University Press

Complexity and the Arrow of Time
Cambridge University Press

The Engine of Complexity: Evolution as Computation
John Mayfield Columbia University Press

How Did Poetry Survive?: The Making of Modern American Verse
John Timberman Newcomb University of Illinois Press

Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea
Mark Blyth Oxford University Press

The Essential Hirschman
Albert O. Hirschman Princeton University Press

Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman
Jeremy Adelman Princeton University Press

Quantum Computing since Democritus
Scott Aaronson Cambridge University Press

 

Comics

Incidents in the Night: Volume 1
David B. Uncivilized Books

Black Paths
David B. SelfMadeHero

Interiorae
Gabriella Giandelli Fantagraphics Books

Barnaby: Volume One HC
Crockett Johnson Fantagraphics Books

7 Comments

  1. I see several titles on Albert Hirschman. I tend to pay attention more to what political or sociological books you selected! I’m definitely checking out those Hirschman titles.

    I wonder if a supposed book of his, “Senile Lines by Dr. Awkward,” has ever been widely published.

  2. I’m very curious to hear your thoughts on Philip Kitcher’s book on Death in Venice. What did you like about it? Did it avoid the usual pitfalls of analytic philosophers writing on literature?

    • It’s not a work of aesthetic analytic philosophy, to be sure. There’s no modal analysis of fictional statements or anything like that. It’s closer to the philosophical-literary criticism of J.P. Stern, Erich Heller, and Clayton Koelb, looking at Mann through the influences of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. It’s very well-researched, concise, and says some new things. I plan to post on it in the near future.

  3. Hey David,

    I’ve been a fan of your blog for a few years now. I’m always learning about new writers from your posts, this one being no exception. I had only heard of a few of the writers your list here, and I hope I can acquaint myself with some of them in the near future.

    I didn’t read much new stuff this year (I feel like I’m always catching up on older writers, for better or worse), although I did enjoy two books of poetry: pH Neutral History by Lidija Dimkovska and Tranfer Fat by Aase Berg. Not sure if you’re a fan of postmodern/contemporary poetry, but these books both have a an odd, spastic magic to them and are well worth checking out.

    Anyway, thanks for all of your posts. I really enjoy them!

  4. Jonah Paritzky

    7 April 2014 at 14:49

    David,

    How does the Dirty Wars book compare to the documentary? I’ve already seen the documentary. Is it worth reading the book?

    Thanks

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