I’m a couple of days late to the requisite end-of-year book list, but I read some true knockouts and really wanted to share them. Here in no particular order are my top 5 books I read this past year:
1. ‘Taipei‘, by Tao Lin
2. ‘Gross Ardor‘, by Bill Rasmovicz
I will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together by Mira Gonzalez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I liked this book quite a lot; it’s spare and direct, but with associative leaps that explode, but quietly and in sun-faded colors. The writing bears many of the hallmarks of the ‘style’ usually associated with Tao Lin, but it does so in a way that felt earnest (one nickname among many for this style seems to be the ‘new sincerity’ movement, which seems bizarre). Emotionally charged but at a remove–the real resonance for me comes from all its strangeness and surprises, the odd and lonely scenes in each poem. The book engages with the paradox of loneliness and closeness better than most that try, as the speaker is constantly hyper self-aware not only in index-like cataloging of emotions and thoughts but even more so with physicality, with frequent lines about desiring to not just engage a physical body with her own but to occupy the exact same space, down to the empty space between each other’s atoms.
It’s an incredibly smart book, making deft and highly insightful gestures that are subtle and easily misunderstood to be simplistic or banal. There’s also a lot of nostalgia and retracing, time becoming an odd thing as past and present seem (like the speaker’s body) to occupy / want to occupy impossible spaces. With all this a constant self-reminder that emotional singularity is a lie, that everything felt has been felt before and almost nothing we ever experience is unique outside of our subjective existence. This tightens the emphasis on self, brings added scrutiny to interactions with others, how they perceive us, and how we act with that magnified gaze constantly feeding back.
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