In October 2007, I introduced myself in the very first Omnivoracious post by recommending some books: my four favorite novels from what turned out to be a very good year for fiction. Now I'm saying goodbye, and I'd like to do the same. My fellow Omnivores, knowing how I am liable to turn what should be a little newsy post into a giant, digressive treatise--and knowing how much Omni has meant to me over the years--have been expecting an endless, Melissa Leo-style swan song (I've even been told there's an over/under line on the word count). And no doubt I won't disappoint. But since two things I love best are telling people about books and making top ten lists, I thought the best way to depart would be with some recommended reading: ten okay, thirteen books I loved from my ten-plus years as an Amazon Books editor (I don't even want to know how many that is in dog years).
Ah, but first about me! Why am I saying goodbye? Well, it's the simplest and most American of stories: I won a lot of money on a TV show, and I'm using it to buy some time away from Amazon to write. (I know, I'm still bewildered by this plot twist.) And Omni has already moved into the hands of some of my trusted colleagues, whose names are likely new to you but whom I've known for some time as great readers and enthusiasts, and who have some excellent plans for Omni in the coming months. Meanwhile, I'm going to be focusing mainly on some longer-term projects of my own, but I'm sure I'll find a way to surface online as well, and I hope the folks here will point you there when I do. (And of course I still know the password to my Omni Typepad account...)
And now the books. This isn't my top 10 list from the past decade, though I'm perfectly capable of a stunt as crass as that. I thought that rather than tell you about books you already know about, I'd point you to some that may have never made it onto your radar. So yes, I loved Oscar Wao and Henrietta Lacks and The Corrections and The Savage Detectives too, and Suite Francaise and 1491 and Nixonland and Fiasco, and Atonement and The Omnivore's Dilemma and Never Let Me Go (not to mention Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus). But here is a baker's dozen I hope find as many readers as those deserving favorites have:
- Black Hole by Charles Burns. I'm not actually sure where this book falls: is it an undisputed modern classic that's so familiar you're a little embarrassed for me that I'd bring it up in this context, or is it new to you? My guess is: if you're a comics reader of any kind, then it's the former, but if you're still on the other side of that genre divide (which I thought the last decade had mostly erased), it's the latter. But whatever kind of reader you think you are, this is it: weird and wonderful, gorgeous and grotesque, and quite possibly my favorite book of the whole decade. Burns uses his deep and deliciously exact black ink to give teen life the horrible and humane treatment it deserves. (See my longer celebration here.)