Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Favorite “New to Me” Authors of 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Pay them a visit, or check out everybody’s lists at the home post for this week.

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Top Ten New to me Authors in 2014:

This is one of my favorite topics of the year. One of the best benefits of participating in the book blogging community is learning of new authors from your fellow bloggers. I’m happy to say that my reading the past five years has been greatly enriched by the addition of many authors who I only learned of through my fellow book bloggers. I heartily thank you all, and today I’ll share some of my favorite new-to-me authors of the year. The following are in a rough ascending order with my favorite being number 1…

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  1. Katherine Vaz – I’ve been reading through her collection of short stories, “Fado and Other Stories” this year and have just been blown away. I’ve posted about a couple of her stories, “Undressing the Vanity Dolls” and “Fado” if you’d like to hear more about her.
  2. Ernesto Sabato – His book, “The Tunnel,” was recommended to me by a co-worker. It was great! I even recommended it for the book club at Indy Reads Books when they were looking for a ‘short’ book before reading a longer one (I think the longer one was Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” – HE didn’t make this list) and they liked it too.
  3. Ralph Ellison – One of those “I’m embarrassed that I’ve never read” books for me has always been Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” Fortunately, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library book club read it for Banned Books Month in September. Very deep and often brilliant.
  4. Jess Walter – Wow. His collection of short stories “We Live in Water” blew me away a couple months ago. It looks like another local book discussion group will also be reading his novel Beautiful Ruins next year, which I’m looking forward to. Top that off with an Indy visit by this author for “Vonnegut Fest” in November, and he’s certainly become one of my favorite new-to-me authors.
  5. Ben Winters – I read a couple short stories of his, then his Edgar Award-winning novel “The Last Policeman” as preparation for a launch party for the final book in that same trilogy. Met him in person at that event and have subsequently read another great short story of his (“Between the Lines”) in the hot-off-the-presses anthology of local writers, “Indy Writes Books”
  6. Roxane Gay – Her story “North Country” has been one of my favorites from my 2014 Deal Me In short story project. I read a couple others by her since – and have one on my radar for next year – and was looking forward to a scheduled visit of hers to the local Vonnegut Library, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to health reasons.
  7. Leonid AndreevHis story “Lazarus” may be my favorite short story read of the year. I had never even heard of this author before I made “stories by Russian writers” a suit in my annual Deal Me In challenge
  8. Ken Liu – I enjoyed his sci-fi flavored story “What I Assume You Shall Assume” in the “Weird Western” anthology “Dead Man’s Hand” which I completed recently. He’s an author I definitely want to explore further. I need to write a blog post about that anthology too. It was a lot of fun. 🙂
  9. Martin Amis – I just finished reading his book, “Time’s Arrow” and hope to write a blog post about it soon. Very enjoyable fresh narrative perspective – a novel written in reverse time. Now that’s ambitious.
  10. Salman Rushdie – I’d never read him until I read the exceptional short story “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” earlier this year. Of course I knew of him because of the infamous “fatwah” from back in the day, but this is the first I’ve read of him. I received some recommendations from others for subsequent reading which I hope to follow up on..

Okay, so those are ten of my favorite “New to Me” authors in 2014. Now I want to know who YOURS are… 🙂

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Deal Me In – Week 43 Wrap Up

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(Image from cafepress.com)

Happy Hallowe’en to everybody! Below are links to new posts since the last update:

Katherine read “[Answer]” by F. Paul Wilson http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/deal-me-in-week-43-answer/

Randall read Ray Bradbury’s “The Smile“.http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-smile-by-ray-bradbury.html

Dale read Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Merry Menhttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/robert-louis-stevenson-the-merry-men/

I read my first Salman Rushdie “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/salman-rushdies-christopher-columbus-and-queen-isabella-consummate-their-relationship/ this is another Deal Me In “twin” as Dale also posted about this story just last week.

Our year of fifty-two stories is winding down. Has anyone else begun building a roster for next year? I came up with one of my four “suits” over the weekend – I’m doing a “stories published in The New Yorker magazine” suit (gotta put that digital subscription with access to the short story archive to good use, right?). I have ideas for my other suits, but I’ll keep them secret for now. 🙂 What are your short story reading plans for 2015?

Salman Rushdie’s “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship”

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(Nine of diamonds picture credit: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/6867/ )

Week 43 of my annual Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge produced the nine of diamonds which led me to the story. “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” by Salman Rushdie. Originally published in the June 17, 1991 issue of the New Yorker magazine, I “own” it via my digital subscription, which allows access to the vast short story archive of that fine publication. (Deal Me In fodder for years to come!) This story was recommended to me for DMI2014 by my blogging colleague and trusted reading advisor, Dale, whose work you may read at his excellent blog “Mirror with Clouds” coincidentally, Dale also had this story on his DMI roster and drew his card last week, just missing a “strange coincidence.”

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This very short story contains the author’s speculation on what the “relationship” between two famous historical figures might have been like. Once again I was amazed at how a skilled author can pack so much into just a few pages – how a story of such brevity can feel so complete and not leave the reader wanting to read more. The story follows the multiple petitionings of Columbus at Isabella’s court and their initial lack of success. The ups and down of Columbus’s emotions as he despairs of ever being accepted or even heard. After one failure, Rushdie writes of Columbus: “Invisibility claims him. He surrenders to its will.” At one point though, the later-to-be-famous explorer muses that “The search for money and patronage is not so different from the search for love.” and somewhat changes his approach.

What finally wins over the queen to patronage is her own epiphany – albeit prompted by external events: “Isabella…is shaken by the realization that she will never, never, NEVER! be satisfied by the possession of the known. Only the unknown, perhaps only the unknowable will satisfy her.” She then agrees to finance Columbus’s travels into an unknown that she may hopefully possess.

As a former history major, I must somewhat red-facedly admit that I don’t know very much about the preliminaries surrounding Columbus’s initial voyage (other than what every school kid in America learns, right or wrong. I do remember that Isabella was a quite powerful and effective monarch, who would likely make most lists like “top ten monarchs,” etc. (There’s a good bit of homework for you- who else would you put on that list?) Reading this story makes me want to read more about her and this period in history. And how appropriate that Deal Me In’s “hand of fate” led me to draw this card during the week of the “Columbus Day” holiday here in the U.S…

(Below: author Salman Rushdie)

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What are your reading experiences with Salman Rushdie? Any recommendations? This story is worth seeking out at your library or via the New Yorker archives if you have access.

(Below: Columbus pleads his case before the monarchs)

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Deal Me In – Week 42 Wrap Up

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A busy week for many book bloggers, with Dewey’s Readathon taking place Saturday (in which at least three DMI-ers participated – congrats to you all). Below are links to new posts. Only ten stories to go!

Dale read Salman Rushdie’s “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella of Spain Consummate their Relationship” (where the title may ‘longer than the actual story’) http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/salman-rushdie-christopher-columbus-and-queen-isabella-of-spain-consummate-their-relationship-santa-fe-ad-1492/

Randall (in Mississippi) read Mississippi’s own Richard Wright’s “The Man Who was Almost a Man” http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-man-who-was-almost-man-by-richard.html

Katherine tried Greg Bear’s “The Fall of the House of Escher” http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/deal-me-in-week-42-the-fall-of-the-house-of-escher/

Candiss pans Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan” (pan intended) http://readthegamut.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/deal-me-in-challenge-story-42-the-classics-club-the-great-god-pan-by-arthur-machen/

I read Vladimir Korlenko’s “The Shades: A Phantasy” and found myself getting reacquainted with… Socrates! https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/men-of-athens-let-us-investigate-this-question-vladimir-korlenkos-the-shades-a-phantasy/

On a related note. I also visited a “Local Authors Fair” at a nearby library on Saturday. I picked up a few short stories collections/anthologies from amongst the many, many authors there. I talked to about a dozen authors, and all those that I talked with at length enough to mention and describe the “Deal Me In” concept liked the idea and (I think) were excited they might be featured at some point in 2015…

See you next week!