Claire Dederer’s witty memoir, the national bestseller Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, would make an excellent gift for the astute new Mom in your life. It comes out in paperback January 3. We interviewed Dederer about it here. She lives on Bainbridge Island, where her favorite bookstore is Eagle Harbor Book Co.: “Not least because they always keep their generator up and running during our frequent island power outages and you can go in there and charge your cellphone.”
Here’s her list:
I never, ever like the big fall novels. Never not ever. I mean, maybe I admire them, but I don’t actively like them. And this year, for once, I loved the two biggies: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. In The Marriage Plot, Eugenides abandons his beloved devices and gimmicks and just trusts his narrative. The result is a big, encompassing novel about a trio of Brown grads in the early eighties that is unapologetically plot driven and yet also makes time to fall into absorbing discursive explorations of topics as wide-ranging as semiotics and manic depression.
The Art of Fielding is also old-fashioned story-telling, highly dependent on Harbach’s ability to make the reader love his people. I am pretty much totally anti-baseball (I’m starting to seem a bit of a crank, am I not?) and I got lost in this story of a college shortstop. Harbach’s world is populated by monomaniacs and passionate lovers; it’s a beautiful portrait of youth, academia, and failed dreams.
Another crabby quirk of mine: I rarely agree with the Pulitzer winners, and I adored A Visit from the Goon Squad. The right book won; that never happens. Jennifer Egan’s book is an ambitious exercise and a love story and a total gas.
It’s a delicious pleasure to give all three of these books as gifts; I get to feel like I’m part of the general literary culture. For a change.
Oh, and I’ll also give Otherwise Known as the Human Condition by Geoff Dyer, because it’s brilliant and also he’s my boyfriend. Since we’ve never met, he has no idea about the boyfriend part. But whatever.