Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Best of 2007

I don't intend to do any sort of comprehensive personal literary review of 2007 - my memory is far too poor for that. Instead, I'll just pick out a few highlights...

Of those actually published in 2007, I've got two contenders. First is Canadian poet Karen Solie's Modern And Normal, which I've read again and again since it came out. It's a hard-to-place book, sitting somewhere between the mainstream and the more experimental, but it's confident and assured in its own little niche. Secondly, I'll go for Colin Simms' Gyrfalcon Poems. I've only had my hands on it for a few days, but it's absolutely superb. Simms is a very fine naturalist and observer of birdlife, and writes about it in a style that owes something to Basil Bunting. It's not always easy going (although it's rarely tough either, and never wilfully obscure), and at times the delight in words is every bit as dizzying as the flight of one of these uber-predators. Honourable mention to Luke Kennard's The Harbour Beyond The Movie - a really dazzling book.

Of poetry collections I read this year (but which were published previously), favourites included Jane Routh's Teach Yourself Mapmaking, Helen Macdonald's Shaler's Fish, and The Great Enigma: Collected Poems of Tomas Transtromer. Macdonald is a real one-off, but well worth the effort, while Routh's book is a lesson in how to patiently develop themes throughout the length of a collection.

I didn't get through many novels, but I thought Jon McGregor's So Many Ways To Begin (actually published last year) was excellent, while where non-fiction was concerned, Ron Powers' Mark Twain: A Life beat all-comers.

And that's it. I'll do a poetry chapbook round-up on Tuesday (I thought it was a good year), but in the meantime, Happy New Year!

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