What To Read Awards: Matthew Specktor

By Matthew Specktor
December 23, 2012 8:55PM (UTC)
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Matthew Specktor is a senior editor at the L.A. Review of Books.

Matthew's top 10:

"The Guardians" by Sarah Manguso
"Panorama City" by Antoine Wilson
"The Devil in Silver" by Victor LaValle
"NW" by Zadie Smith
"At Last" by Edward St. Aubyn
"Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter

1. Explain why your No. 1 book was your favorite title of the year: I'm semi-opposed to this question. Bestness is always situational. For me, St. Aubyn was the pick of the litter, because he stages consciousness as beautifully as -- and, it must be said, more entertainingly than -- Henry James.


2. What was the strongest debut book of 2012? Chris Beha's "What Happened to Sophie Wilder?," for similar reasons to St. Aubyn. It's remarkably subtle in its construction.

3. What book sits outside your list, but has either been overlooked or deserves more attention? Maggie Nelson's "The Art of Cruelty" deserves special mention, especially as Quentin Tarantino prepares to unleash another sadism-fest, and "The Walking Dead's" feast of disembowelments piles up on our DVRs, and ...

4. Was there one book, either on your list or off your list, fiction or nonfiction, that seems to best encapsulate America in 2012? Tough to beat "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," in this respect.


5. What was the single most memorable character from a 2012 book? Antoine Wilson's indelible naif, Oppen Porter.

6. What is the book from 2012, either from your list or not, fiction or nonfiction, that is most likely to join the canon, or still be discussed 20 years from now? I'll be provocative and say it's probably something I haven't read yet. This list is severely curtailed by the number of 2012 books I haven't gotten to, or yet finished.

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Matthew Specktor

Matthew Specktor is the author of three books, including the novel "American Dream Machine," forthcoming in the spring of 2013. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Best Of 2012 Books What To Read Awards