Favorites 2009: Fiction and poetry

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Doubleday)
A struggling young writer in 1920s Barcelona accepts a lucrative, diabolical assignment commissioned by a shadowy client.

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (Simon & Schuster)
Meet Paul Chowder, a poet, editor and procrastinator whose character sheds autobiographical light on his creator.

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (W.W. Norton)
An honest, powerful and violent rendering of Genesis by the artist.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)
An intriguing hybrid graphic novel about a paper architect "whose reputation rested on his designs, rather than on the buildings constructed from them."

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It: Stories by Maile Meloy (Riverhead)
Explorations of the lives of ranchers, lawyers and others in the American West in a collection of diamond-hard stories.

Chronic: Poems by D.A. Powell (Graywolf)
Love, the poet writes, has the ability to turn a person inside out.

The City & The City by China Mieville (Del Rey)
A detective investigates a crime in an Eastern European-flavored fantasy world in which cities and realities overlap in unexpected ways.

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Spanning 20 years, the four collections here show the author in full command of language and imagery, playing the reader like a master.

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. (Viking)
In rural Maine, a young man struggles with his family, and his prophetic powers, as the world braces for the apocalypse.

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (Harper)
A husband and father turns to the drug trade to try to get out of a financial hole after he gets laid off from his reporting job in this darkly funny novel.

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon (Penguin Press)
Thomas Pynchon goes noir . . . sort of, in this novel that takes place in late 1960s L.A.

It's Beginning to Hurt: Stories by James Lasdun (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Devastating stories of the petty, malicious moments in people's lives that signal graver changes to come.

Lark & Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (Alfred A. Knopf)
Streams of consciousness converge as two siblings struggle with the lasting consequences of the Korean War on memory and their family.

Love and Summer by William Trevor (Viking)
A married woman is at the mercy of her passions when it comes to a photographer in a story by a contemporary Irish master.

Love in Infant Monkeys: Stories by Lydia Millet (Soft Skull)
Stories of our relationship to nature and the ways we foolishly try to stand outside it.

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk (Alfred A. Knopf)
The protagonist of the Nobel Prize-winning author's new novel takes romantic attachment to the extremes in a sensuous tale set in Istanbul.

Once the Shore: Stories by Paul Yoon (Sarabande)
Tales spanning 50 years about the effects of love, war and loss -- each rendered with careful lyricism.

The Signal by Ron Carlson (Viking)
An estranged couple's wilderness trek results in harrowing encounters with strangers, secret missions -- and some unexpected hope.

The Sky Below by Stacey D'Erasmo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
After his father abandons him, a young artist yearns for transformation -- and pays the bills as a half-baked obituary writer.

Sunnyside by Glen David Gold (Alfred A. Knopf)
Charlie Chaplin is central to this epic-sized novel about early Hollywood and Los Angeles, movie storytelling and the arrival of modernity.

The Thing Around Your Neck: Stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Alfred A. Knopf)
The Nigerian writer's third book portrays individuals struggling for freedom but who are caught at the ends of invisible tethers.

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Dutton)
After his father dies and his wife leaves him for his boss, a man spends seven long, excruciating days with his dysfunctional family.

Too Much Happiness: Stories by Alice Munro (Alfred A. Knopf)
Munro's short fiction tackles the strokes of fate that so often determine the shape of a life.

Usher: Poems by B.H. Fairchild (W.W. Norton)
Fairchild adopts the voices of the poet Hart Crane and others to evoke a territory between perseverance and despair.

A Village Life: Poems by Louise Glück (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
A collection that captures the subtleties of society and meaning in a pastoral setting.

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