My Favorite Books of 2013

For the first time, my year-end list includes no poetry. That isn’t because there was no decent poetry published this year, but because I’ve been immersed this year in readying for publication my own novel (due out in 2014; more later) to read anything other than fiction. Poetry makes me look so deeply into the world that I fail sometimes to make bridges to other, related material. That’s a good thing. Poetry should be about the intensity and depth of experiences. And perhaps it is different for others; in fact, I think that’s just my tendency to tunnel myself into a book. Fiction by its length and such factors as plots requires us usually to look at how things are connected. This year, I needed to make those connections to be sure I could offer readers the most of which I was capable.

That said, there was some great fiction this year. Much of it, like Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch, has been reviewed elsewhere. Here, I want to focus on some gems that you might have missed in all the big-box fanfare. Not that the books below haven’t been successful. Some have been wonderfully reviewed elsewhere (Slouka’s Brewster and Yoon’s Snow Hunters, for example), while others are on their way to being classics (Marafioti’s American Gypsy joins a handful of other Romani memoirs) and some, like Lee’s Bobcat and Other Stories and The Day the Crayons Quit, are in a genre (short stories and children’s) that isn’t on everyone’s reading list. So I’d like to offer a trumpet fanfare for

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