Most overlooked book

There is a conversation going on out in the blogosphere started by Matt Cheney about the most neglected book of the year, which has been picked up here and there. It’s an interesting question, especially amongst those of us who are interested in making sure that great books get read.

I was tempted to nominate Leslie What’s debut novel Olympic Games, which is enormous fun and got only limited attention, as being amongst the year’s most overlooked books, or perhaps Jennifer Stevenson’s powerful debut, trash sex magic. However, at the end of the day there was really only one choice: Margo Lanagan’s Black Juice. Published in a small-ish print run in Australia as a young adult book, it’s a collection of powerful, tough minded, beautifully written, and generally quite extraordinary stories. For my money, it’s the best collection of 2004, and while it has won a mainstream literary award in Victoria, it really hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. Now, it will be getting more play, hopefully, in the US when the Eos edition comes out, and when stories start to pop up in year’s bests, but even then, this is a major book with a minor profile that you need to read.

Surrendering to the inevitable

Our faithful correspondent over at The VanderWorld Times admits to having surrendered to the inevitable. Overwhelmed by the need to both maintain a household and indulge in the creation of claustrophobic secondary worlds peopled with insane sub-humans’ he has had to abandon his plans to blog about the majority of his reading. In doing so, he mentions his sympathy ‘for any poor bastard who tries to take the length and breadth of the short fiction published in the field over the past year…’ Ahhh, yes (sob). I am currently engaged in preparing a rough draft of a short fiction recommended reading list for what Tim refers to as a certain magazine which extends to over 300 stories. It needs to be reduced by two thirds, and it is a large task. Interesting, though.