Wrote this 'review of my reading year' on a sat morning a few weeks ago...
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz - Insatiability. Crazily intense novel from the playwright. Great bits on music, madness, bohemianism, with well drawn out SF sub-plot.
I need my own copy! Discovered lots of Poles this year (Kownwicki, Milosz, etc.)
Gyula Krudy - The Adventures of Sindbad. From Poles to Hungarians. In this bunch of stories Sindbad is a traveler through time, from one love to the next, and from one death to the next. Very witty and needs more than the one read I managed to give it so far.
Life is a Dream was great as well (great writing on food, made me hungry) part of the Central European classics series on Penguin.
Thomas Bernhard - Old Masters. Again on the Penguin series. What does angry stand-up comedy actually look like on the page? For one thing its paragraph-less. But I think he backs this up with strong arguments and convictions.
Roberto Bolano - By Night in Chile and 2666. Took me a while to notice. He pulls little places of the universe together, but he makes it all matter. 2666 atm has this galloping style of narration. Hard to stop (as someone said on the reading thread). One of the v few books where pop cultural matter didn't feel dropped in. He seemed in tune w/what people 'in the street' feel. In awe.
The Arabian Nights - The Husain Haddawy translation, so only 500 pages as he chooses to translate what he thinks are the actual stories (lots of research and post - 'Orientalism' theorizing went into it). Twists and turns per page count is high but it never tires.
Tarjei Vesaas - The Ice Palace. Uses the icy landscape to mirror the intensity of the best friendship you will have in your life? That was quite a morning! Rulfo's Pedro Paramo was another intense short one.
Vasily Gossmann/Platonov/Serge/Shalamov - all different facets of Bolshie lit. Grossmann brings the reportage and essayist's eye to various disasters; Serge is very sharp and feels close to events (even if he was on the run all the time); Platonov brings some art and lots of engineering failures and, in Shalamov's Kolyma Tales, tries to document the Gulag universe where you really feel there is no humanity left. Yet you keep turning pages.
At one point in their lives they all believed in it.
Denton Welch - Diaries. Just an awesome style.
Finally Helen DeWitt - The Last Samurai. This was a communal read with everyone on the I Love Books msg board. Truly cool, in the best sense of the word.
2011 - a few bits I note here to try and get round to next year: Anon - Njal's Saga (tr. Magnus Magnusson); Anon - The Mahabharata (tr. John Smith); Boccaccio - The Decameron; Tadeusz Borowski - This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentleman; Cervantes - Don Quixote; Vasily Grossman - Life and Fate; E.T.A Hoffmann - Tales; Gunter Grass - Tin Drum; M.R. James - Ghost stories; Camara Laye - The Radiance of the King; Mario Vargas Llosa - The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta; Francois Mauriac - Therese; Oblomov - Goncharov; Rabelais - Gargantua and Pantagruel (tr. M A Screech); Jose Saramago - The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis; Lao She - Rickshaw Boy; Soseki - I am a Cat; Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island; Swift - Gulliver's Travels; Lu Xun - Diary of a Madman and Other Stories; Chretien de Troyes - Perceval: The Story of the Grail (tr. Burton Raffel); The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes (tr. Robert Alter)
Non-fiction as it currently stands:
Erich Auerbach - Mimesis: The Reality of Representation in Western Literature; Robert Caro - The Path to Power; Luis Bunuel - My Last Sigh; Victor Serge - Memoirs of a Revolutionary; Jacques Ranciere - The Ignorant Schoolmaster; Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall...(abridged); Andrew Kopkind - The Thirty Years' Wars: Dispatches and Diversions of a Radical Journalist, 1965-1994; Klaus Theweleit - Male Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History; Nadezhda Mandelstam - Hope Against Hope; Kafka - Letter to his Father; Leonardo Sciascia - The Moro Affair; Robert Musil - Diaries 1899-1942; Vasari - The Lives of the Artists; Aleister Crowley - The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.
Yr suggestions welcome