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3:AM Top 5: Michael Kimball

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3:AM would like to welcome Michael Kimball to Buzzwords. Michael’s third novel, Dear Everybody, was recently released in paperback and he’s currently on a UK blog tour. Here are Michael’s Top 5 Novels that You may not have heard of:

1. Some InstructionsStanley G. Crawford
It is a novel constructed out of a husband’s instructions to his wife about the upkeep of their house and marriage, a father’s instructions to his son and his daughter about picking up their room and the general conduct of their lives. And out of these instructions, an unexpected narrative accumulates, a formal ingenuity that continues to amaze me. (After you read and love this, then you might look up his Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine)

2. The End of the StoryLydia Davis
You may have heard of Lydia Davis. She was nominated for the National Book Award last year for Varieties of Disturbance: Stories. I liked the book, but most people who have read Lydia Davis have only read her stories, and the book of hers that I love is The End of the Story, a novel that is reconstructed out of memory and the failings of memory, the passion that begins a relationship and the residuals that are left over from that even years later.

3. My Happy LifeLydia Millet
Sticking with novels by people named Lydia, you may have also heard of Lydia Millet. She has received a lot of deserved attention in the last couple of years. But My Happy Life never received the attention it should have when it was published in 2002. It’s a genius of a narrative, a life of terrible abuse innocently told by a woman who has been, presumably, abandoned in a derelict mental hospital. It would have been a little difficult for you to find your copy, but luckily, Soft Skull republished it.

4. Christie Malry’s Own Double EntryB.S. Johnson
My copy has a blurb on it from Samuel Beckett. I have never seen a blurb from Beckett on any other thing that was ever written, but maybe that is my failing. Regardless, that should be enough: Beckett calls him “a most gifted writer.” I shouldn’t even have to say that it is a novel about a man who keeps a ledger for all of the “credits” and “debits” of his life, both imagined and not, and that this leads to an unexpected and unavoidable end. Also, B.S. Johnson’s life came to an unexpected and unavoidable end. (Also see The Unfortunates and House Mother Normal)

5. Home LandSam Lipsyte
Sam is my friend, but I would put him on this list even if we hadn’t come up together. And the only thing that you need to know is that Sam is your friend too. Just pick up Home Land and start reading and pretty soon you will be laughing and you will see what I mean.

Bonus Top 5: Boxy an Star, Daren King; The High Traverse, Richard Blanchard; The Favourite, Meredith Daneman; Motorman, David Ohle; and, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor.

First posted: Saturday, April 18th, 2009.

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