49. Swamplandia! - (12/29) - Karen Russell 336p
Review behind the link
50. In the Lake of the Woods - (12/31) - Tim O'Brien 321p
O'Brien is really a great writer. This is now my 4th book of his, and for some reason every time I expect some big Vietnam war thing, and every time I pleasantly surprised. He writes about people and relationships, and if those people and relationships are in the context of Vietnam, I suppose it only makes them more beautiful.
This book is very cleverly constructed. It's historical fiction (and in fact won an historical fiction award) about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, which I'm sort of embarrassed to say I knew nothing about. Though, I was only 5 when it happened, and I generally shy away from all things Vietnam. But this book mostly isn't about that, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's the aftermath of that and the impact on a participant. His relationships. Maybe it's just about a guy who happened to be there at the time.
It's a great book, and I highly recommend it as I do any of O'Brien's work. He's a master of language, and though this wasn't as stunning as The Things They Carried it's a really worthy read.
21. Alice I Have Been: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin - 5/5 stars
I don't often think about who inspired whom in literature. Being a writer myself, I know that we write what we know and to some degree, every character in a book is based on somebody real.
This a fictional take on Alice Liddell the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. If you read the Wikipedia article on Alice Liddell, you have the gist of this story. It seems to me that it accurately reflects what is known about the events that took place.
I think we all know that there is some speculation about Carroll and pedophilia. That's never not going to be creepy in fiction, and it's creepy here just like every place else. That's not a spoiler, unless you don't know about the speculation then it is, but it's something you'll certainly figure out early on anyway. This is not to infer this book is another Lolita. It's not in any way. The relationship between Alice and Dodgson is an important, but small, part of the story. This is really about her life.
The writing is excellent, the story telling solid, the characters are great. I was really captivated.
The audio narration was terrific.
Definitely a good piece of historical fiction.(I have a gigantic spoiler in my full review, which can be found here)
My top 10 of 2010:
In the order I read them
The End Of Alice - (2/28) - A.M. Homes 272p
The Things They Carried - (4/10) - Tim O'Brien 256p
A Gate at the Stairs - (5/7) - Lorrie Moore 336p
The Help - Kathryn Stockett 5/5 stars (audio)
Super Sad True Love Story - (6/6) - Gary Shteyngart - 352p
Gone with the Wind - (9/26) - Margaret Mitchell 860p
Little Bee - (9/30) - Chris Cleave 304p
Room - (10/9) - Emma Donoghue 336p
Lolita - (12/10) - Vladimir Nabokov 336p
Columbine - (12/19) - Dave Cullen 464p
I read a total of 50 books, listened to 21 on audio. My complete list can be found here