by Jeffrey Ford
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (The New Press) -- Alexander offers a supremely well-researched and ultimately convincing argument that the out of control incarceration of young Black males constitutes a new kind of Jim Crow law and resultant caste system. Interesting discussion of how this phenomenon is aimed at blocking and/or disenfranchising people from their vote.
Doctor Sleep by Madison Smartt Bell (Grove Press). An Americn ex-heroin addict, self-styled hypnotherapist, who works with a secret government agency at times and lives in London, suffers from insomnia. A trippy book in which the reader is never quite sure what's happening. Errant and subtle. Terrific writing.
The Natural History of the Unicorn by Chris Lavers (Harper Perrenial). Across continents and centuries, Lavers traces the history of a myth. Interesting stories from antiquity to the 19th century concerning this symbolic creature.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdom, The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin (trilogy from Orbit Books) -- A fascinating and original take on the genre of epic fantasy by a writer who can do it all. This is a lot of epic fantasy for me (not so much an epic fantasy reader). I was constantly engaged, delighted, and surprised by these works. Looking forward to see what Jemisin does next.
R/Evolution by Tenea Johnson (Counterpoise) -- A mosaic novel. Fast paced science fiction full of ideas from a time and place where bio-technology and racial justice/injustice coincide. Nice blend of the fictional page turner and important political ideas. Also check out Johnson's new Smoketown novel from Blind Side Press.
Starve Better by Nick Mamatas (Apex Publications) -- Advice on the writing life is usually for shit, but Mamatas manages a clear headed, realistic, and humorous view of what to expect and offers credible tips on making the most of your fiction in the world of professional writing. There are few books like this that I'll recommend to my fiction students, but this is definitely one of them.
The Camel by Robert Irwin (Reaktion Books) -- Everything you might want to know about the mythology, history, and biology of the camel by an interesting author.
This year I've been lucky enough to read some books that won't be out till 2012. You might want to consider these in the new year.
The New American Crime Film by Matthew Sorrento (McFarland Publishers) -- Forward by director, Stuart Gordon. Sorrento covers the crime films of Lynch, Cronenberg, Mamet, Herzog, etc. A little pricey, but a scholarly work that is more than just gossip and glitz.
Moscow But Dreaming by Ekaterina Sedia (Prime Books) -- this new collection of stories by Sedia contains weird and twisted tales from old Russia, the Soviet system and America. Sedia's writing is alive with metaphor that renders both the beautiful and the bizarre. Her yellow Lenin is the height of creepiness. I can't recommend this one enough. Sure to be one of the stand out collections of 2012.
Technicolor and other Revelations by John Langan -- Langan, one of the best short story writers in the Horror genre, takes the archetypal themes of horror and filters them through his unique imagination and style, making them entirely fresh. Contains the classic "How the Day Runs Down" from the JJ Adams anthology, The Living Dead, plus seven other pieces, one a new story. Great book of short fiction.
Kiss Me Deadly directed by Robert Aldrich, starring Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer, written by A. I. Bezzirides and Mickey Spillane (1955) -- Sort of an SF/Noir with espionage intrigue, a box of glowing bad stuff, and a loopy plot. Cloris Leachman debuts. Criterion Collection.
House of Numbers directed by Russell Rouse, starring Jack Palance and Barbara Lang, based on a novel by Jack Finney and a script by Don Mankiewicz (1957). Palance plays twins in this prison break caper. The scheme that Arnie and Bill Judlow put into play is preposterous, but somehow the story works. Shot at San Quentin, using real guards and prisoners as actors. The Chief, from Get Smart, plays the warden of the joint.
The Goat Rodeo Sessions by Yoyo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
"Just You, Just Me" by Pianica Maeda
Rough Guide to African Guitar Legends anthology
Ska Down Her Way anthology
For Your Love" by Ed Townsend
Jeffrey Ford, who has the won the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award (several times), and a few other awards as well, is the author of The Well Built City trilogy and numerous other novels, as well as several collections of short fiction. He lives in New Jersey.