To Kill a Mockingbird is easily the best novel I've read this year. I believe I already reviewed it some months ago in early October. The vitality, realism and warmth of her characters and story are such as to be irrefragibly lauded, and to leave the reader wishing Harper Lee had not started and ended her career in the same novel, though it is certainly a more than respectable accomplishment for one writer.
Free Air was one of the first books I read this year and I loved it. I saw some of myself and my life in the characters and the story, which is always one of the reasons any reader likes a book. Moreover, this is one of the sweetest, most charming romances I have ever read. Sinclair Lewis's style is engaging, his portrayals of the characters and emotions vivid and even poignant. I am not unemotional but I am stoic, and am not easily moved to laughter, nor to tears, and it is one of the greatest comments I can pay an author that he moved me to both.
Now, this may sound strange to you, but Tarzan of the Apes was highly redolent of Free Air for me. The latter was was written in 1919 while Tarzan itself was written in 1914, and thus they share a not dissimilar era. But their real resemblance is in the romantic story. It was very touching, even heartbreaking. Otherwise this story has some of the most thrilling action that can be found in literature of more than a hundred years in antiquity, in the midst of beautiful descriptions of the jungle, its denizens, and its enchantments. The depths of the psyche it explores are fascinating, as well. The worst I can say is that Burroughs was no stedfast believer in the writing precept "show don't tell," which at times would have done him much good, while at others he embraced it, while at others still he defied it.
I will more briefly recapsulate some of the other highlights of my literary sallies this year. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, was another romance that touched me; Warriors: Omen of the Stars: The Last Hope by Erin Hunter was the epic conclusion to a series I have been following for five, six, possibly seven years; The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood is a brilliant mystery; The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers, . Lastly, The Secret of Chimneys, written by the inestimable Agatha Christie, an authoress nonpareil in the mystery genre, was another brilliant work that stepped, not without keeping its roots firmly planted, out of the traditional detective fiction genre into adventure thriller territory.
Regrets! Do I have regrets? Further, I should say; apart from the paltry number of works of fiction I have read in the past year. Are there books I wish I had not read? Yes. The Film Mystery by Arthur B. Reeve, and both A Taste for Death and The Black Tower by P.D. James are stains in my memory that will always remind me how not to write detective fiction. It is a genre of the highest standards and the most honorable traditions; and though in modern days it has been deeply tainted, the heart that lies in the Golden Age shall always continue to beat in my own chest and in those of mystery readers and writers like myself. The Golden Age glows with such a resplendent luminosity as will never be dulled or extinguished!
And before I conclude this entry, here's a list of some of the best short stories I've read on BZP this year:
Thanks to these authors, and to all the authors of BZP who make it such a great writing community! Moreover, thanks to the BZPower staff, for your recent gift of Off Topic Culture. All of you make the BZP libraries a great place to write.
Sincerely, Nuile: Lunatic Wordsmith