I’ve read a lot of good fiction this year. In the process, I set a new record for books finished, at 76 so far (mostly because I read more novellas this year rather than any diligence on my part).
The books below were my favorites. They all happen to lie on the spectrum of bizarreness. I should note, these are books I’ve read in 2018, not necessarily books that came out in 2018.
1. HE DIGS A HOLE by Danger Slater
You’re probably sick of me talking about this book. But dammit, I can’t help it. I’ve heard from more than one person that it was their favorite book of the year. If you didn’t read my review, it’s the story of a man who replaces his hands with gardening tools and digs a hole. It only grows weirder from there. Slater’s style is like no other, one of my favorite voices in modern fiction. Read a page and you’ll be hooked.
2. MOTHERFUCKING SHARKS by Brian Allen Carr
Wow. While I enjoyed the story of HE DIGS the most on this list, when it comes to quality of prose, Carr is King. The story is preposterous: killer sharks jumping out of puddles in the Wild West, but the writing is golden. Bordering on experimental fiction, Carr elicits emotions and sensations I had not thought possible in a book.
3. BORNE by Jeff VanderMeer
I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I picked it up. Of all the books I’ve read this year, this was the most engrossing. It was my first VanderMeer novel and definitely not my last. He shows us a fresh perspective of the post apocalypse, centered around my favorite non-human character ever “Borne.” Written in VanderMeer’s personal genre “weird literature,” this book refuses to be put down.
4. NEVERDAY by Carlton Mellick III
Usually Mellick offends my prudish sensibilities. His genitalia-titled books scare me off even though I secretly enjoy them. This book, however, is a departure from that. It proposes: what would happen if the Groundhog-Day-effect applied to everyone? It is masterfully constructed and my favorite book of his I’ve read so far.
5. PUPPET SKIN by Danger Slater
Yes, I put Slater twice. While not as magical as HE DIGS, this book blew past my expectations. At first, its YA label diminished it in my mind, but that quickly changed as I read on. This is a beautiful story, filled with Slater’s unique humor, not to mention his electric prose. But it was the last several chapters that put it on this list.
- American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
- Fortune Box (Madeleine Swann)
- The Sorrow King (Andersen Prunty)
- The Greatest Fucking Moment in Sports (Kevin L. Donihe)
- House of Houses (Kevin L. Donihe)
- Ecstatic Inferno (Autumn Christian)
- The Crooked God Machine (Autumn Christian)
- The City and the City (China Mieville)
- The Obese (Nick Antosca)
- All Hail the House Gods (Andrew J. Stone)
- Shit Luck (Tiffany Scandal)