Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Year In Review: Books

Here we go, in no particular order and with a minimum of commentary. A dozen books that made 2005 for me.

RED JUNGLE, by Kent Harrington
CAVALCADE, by Walter Satterthwait
EMPIRE RISING, by Thomas Kelly
BLONDE LIGHTNING, by Terrill Lee Lankford
DRIVE, by James Sallis

Short story collections that got the job done in wildly different ways: Ed Gorman’s DIFFERENT KINDS OF DEAD and SIMPLIFY by Tod Goldberg.

Everything old is new again: The short fiction and non-fiction of screenwriter Daniel Fuchs, brought together in THE GOLDEN WEST: HOLLYWOOD STORIES. And the first North American publication of Jean-Claude Izzo’s TOTAL CHAOS.

Lawrence Block’s ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING might not have the same impact on those unfamiliar with the character of Matthew Scudder. But as someone who’s read the entire series, it hit me hard. I have no idea what Block’s plans are for Scudder. But this book has the feel of a valedictory, a powerful and graceful way for the character to leave the stage.

Oh, all right, here’s some semblance of order. My bests of the year. In non-fiction, THE TENDER BAR by J. R. Moehringer. In fiction, Jess Walter’s CITIZEN VINCE. And once again, that’s not because of the title.

R.I.P. Vincent Schiavelli

From a career filled with memorable moments, a few of my favorites.

As a toadying alien invader in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: They’re only monkey-boys. We can crush them here on earth, Lord Whorfin!

As Patrick Swayze’s guide to the afterlife in Ghost, spying a cigarette: Ahh, what I wouldn’t give for a drag! Just one drag!

The last words of a deranged children’s show host/assassin in Death to Smoochy: I never saw Venice!

Something tells me the actor did see Venice. He led an interesting life.