Check Out Movie Critic Armond White’s 2011 Better-Than-List

Critic/contrarian Armond White’s 2011 Better-Than-List uses one movie to beat up on another. It’s grand reading—read it in full! A few choice snips:

Books I Didn’t Read in 2011 (And Books I Will Try to Read in 2012)

Okay. So obviously a list of the books I didn’t read in 2011 would be, y’know, long.

This post is about the books I set out to read, tried to read, wanted to read, abandoned, neglected, acquired and thought looked interesting, etc. It’s also about what I want to—what I plan to—read in 2012.


A reasonable starting place: I wrote a post in early January of this year detailing the books I would try to read in 2011. I actually read most of the books I named in that post. But:

I failed to read past page 366 of Adam Levin’s incredibly long novel The Instructions, although I think I was a bit too harsh in my semi-review. Chalk it up to exhaustion.

I failed to even begin to try to read William Gaddis’s incredibly long novel JR. (But I swear to read it one year. Not next year, but maybe the year after?).

I failed to read past the first chapter of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love.

I read most of the Tintin collections I picked up last year, but I didn’t get to volumes 5 or 6.


Moving beyond that early post, books that I recall abandoning (although I’m sure there must be more):

I abandoned Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Italian romance The Marble Faun after about 30 pages.

I abandoned 334 by Thomas Disch after about 50 pages. Somehow simultaneously dense and loose, it struck me as intensely imagined and sloppily composed.

I abandoned John Williams’s Butcher’s Crossing after the first chapter; it was a great opening chapter, but I thought it was going to be, I don’t know, more like Blood Meridian.

I also abandoned Chad Harbach’s big book The Art of Fielding (after 100 pages) because it was lame (notice it’s not pictured above because I traded in that sucker), but I had a nice dialog with some readers who responded to a post I wrote about abandoning it, so that was a plus.


Books I bought in 2011 that I aim to read in 2012:

Correction by Thomas Bernhard. Bernhard was a repeated suggestion from readers in the aforementioned Harbach post/rant, and he was apparently a huge influence on W.G. Sebald, so, yes, looking forward to this.

The Reivers by William Faulkner. I read A Light in August this year and reread most of Go Down, Moses. My plan is to read one Faulkner a year for the next ten years.

Ferdydurke by Witold Gambrowicz. I struggled to make it through Gombrowicz’s bizarre jaunt Trans-Atlantyk, but once the novel taught me how to read it, I was enchanted by its strange humor and frenetic syntax. Over some beer and wine, I had a conversation about Ferdydurke with my father-in-law’s priest who is Polish. His pronunciation of Ferdydurke should win an award for charm.

I will read Georges Perec’s big book Life: A User’s Manual.

I have already promised to read William Vollmann’s Imperial.

There are many, many more, of course (too many, really).


Books people sent me to read and review that look really cool that I will be reading and reviewing at some point in the very near future:

Satantango by László Krasznahorkai: I will read this and review this in the very near future.

The Funny Man by John Warner: Comedy, drugs, celebrity culture.

The Book on Fire by Keith Miller: This one is about a biblioklept. It’s been at the top of my stack for a few months now, but I keep letting myself get distracted.

Thirst by Andrei Gelasimov: Apparently this novella about a maimed alcoholic war vet is funny. (I hate the cover).

Mule by Tony D’Souza: Middle class man sells marijuana cross country. (I love the cover).

Various titles from Melville House’s Neversink line: I’ve got a few in the stack.

Also: I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I actually stayed up really late last night reading free public domain books from Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson; I’ll read a contemporary novel on it this year—Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, perhaps? Suggestions welcome!—and try to review both novel and the process of reading the novel on a warm glowing machine.

And: I’m sure there are a ton of novels that will come out in 2012 that I’ll want to read; I’m already primed for Dogma, Lars Iyer’s sequel to Spurious.

So: What are you guys looking forward to reading in 2012? What did you fail to read in 2011?

(An Incomplete) List of Writers Who Died in 2011

Vaclav Havel

Christopher Hitchens

Russell Hoban

Ken Russell

Joe Simon

Stetson Kennedy

Sidney Lumet

George Whitman

Lilian Jackson Braun

Edwin Honig

Michael S. Hart

Gil Scott-Heron

Bill Keane

Jerry Leiber

Diana Wynne Jones

Bert Jansch

Leonora Carrington

Brian Jacques

Barbara Grier

Edouard Glissant

Dwayne McDuffie

Hisaye Yamamoto

Phoebe Snow

Anne McCaffrey

Leonard B. Stern

Vincent Cronin

Tony Geiss

MK Binodini

Kenneth Grant

Joe Gores

Maria Elena Walsh

Del Reisman

Christopher Trumbo

Loreen Rice Lucas

Diana Norman

Reynolds Price

John Ross

David Hart

B.H. Friedman

Dick King-Smith

Susana Chavez

Park Wun-suh

Wilfrid Sheed

Jean Dutord

Sun Axelsson

Ruth Cavin

Max Wilk

Hans Joachim Alpers

Donald S. Sanford

Peter J. Gomes

Ion Hobana

Rudi Bass

Anson Rainey

Perry Moore

Sean Boru

Bo Carpelan

Elaine Crowley

Martin Quigley Jr.

Charles E. Silberman

Andree Chedid

Iakovos Kambanelis

Sara Ruddick

Doris Burn

Steven Kroll

May Cutler

Thor Vilhjálmsson

H.R.F. Keating

Joe Bageant

Jean Liedloff

Bill Blackbeard

Alberto Granado

Hazel Rowley

Al Morgan

Raymond Garlick

John Haines

Ernesto Sabato

Abdul Hameed

Rafael Menjívar Ochoa

John Sullivan

Sidney Michaels

Madelyn Pugh

Sol Saks

Arthur Marx

Bill Brill

L.J. Davis

Ulli Beier

Kevin Jarre

Joanna Russ

David Wilkerson

Beverly Barton

Craig Thomas

Ira Cohen

W.J. Gruffydd

Anne Blonstein

Paul Violi

Johanna Fiedler

Dick Wimmer

Oniroku Dan

Hans Keilson

Martin Woodhouse

Newton Thornburg

Patrick Galvin

Wallace Clark

Carlos Trillo

Kate Swift

Arthur Laurents

Frans Sammut

William Kloefkorn

Thierry Martens

E.M. Broner

Tom Hungerford

Kathryn Tucker Windham

Harry Bernstein

Joel Rosenberg

Simon Heere Heeresma

David Rayfiel

Oscar Sambrano Urdaneta

Robert Kroetsch

Josephine Hart

Gloria Sawai

Anne LaBastille

Blaize Clement

Sissel Solbjørg Bjugn

Francis King

Agota Kristof

Henry Carlisle

Iain Blair

Hideo Tanaka

Michael Legat

Ruth Thomas

Colin Harvey

David Holbrook

Simona Monyová

William Sleator

Samuel Menashe

Selwyn Griffith

Sara Douglass

Ida Fink

Sergio Bonelli

Arthur Evans

Hella Haasse

David Croft

David Zelag Goodman

Emanuel Litvinoff

José Miguel Varas

Jo Carson

Cengiz Dağcı

Frank Parkin

Hugh Fox

Herbert Lomas

Florence Parry Heide

Stanley Mitchell

Uno Röndahl

Mildred Savage

Mick Anglo (LINK)

Alvin Schwartz

Sri Lal Sukla

Piri Thomas

Gerald Shapiro

Vittorio Curtoni

Morio Kita

Andrea Zonzotto

Taha Muhammad Ali

Georg Kreisler

Daniel Sada

H.G. Francis

Helen Forrester

Čestmír Vejdělek

Hal Kanter

Les Daniels

Leonid Borodin

Franz Josef Degenhardt

Morris Philipson

Ana Daniel

Ruth Stone

Peter Reading

Ruslan Akhtakhanov

Ivan Martin Jirous

Tomás Segovia

Kabir Chowdhury

Hans Heinz Holz

Ke Yan

Mario Miranda

Jean Baucus

Gilbert Adair

Jerry Robinson

Ambika Charan Choudhury

Matti Yrjänä Joensuu

Louky Bersianik

Christopher Logue

Christa Wolf

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl