The best books I have read so far in 2009, in no particular order, are:
- Frederick Busch - Girls (a novel, 1997) and Rescue Missions (short stories, 2006). Can't wait to read North, the followup to Girls. Rescue Missions was Busch's last published work before his death.
- J.M.Coetzee - Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). An outstanding book from the South African Nobel laureate.
- Rodes Fishburne - Going to See the Elephant (2009). Quirky but fun.
- Philipp Meyer - American Rust (2009). Debut novel. LOVED it.
- Richard Russo - That Old Cape Magic (2009). Very good shorter novel from Russo. I have loved this writer since way before he was popular, with Vintage paperback releases of Mohawk and The Risk Pool in the 1980's. His novels have become John Irving-esque in length over the last few (Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs), but this was a mere after-dinner mint compared to those... Maybe he got tired. Or ran out of words.
- Colson Whitehead - Sag Harbor (2009). Very evocative of time and place (summers on Long Island).
- Ron Rash - all three of his earlier novels (earlier than Serena, my 2008 reading favorite) - One Foot in Eden (2002), Saints at the River (2004) and The World Made Straight (2006). You should read them. Read them all. The funny thing here is that the only reason I began reading Rash's novels is because I saw that his short story collection Chemistry and other Stories was a PEN/Faulkner finalist last year, and that he had a new novel out (Serena). So I picked up the new novel and read it. And loved it. And bought these three and read them in very quick succession. As it turns out, I have read all four of his novels but still haven't read Chemistry...
Pictures are Longwood Gardens, September 2009. [good high-resolution pics, click to enlarge]