They’re listed in no particular order or hierachy (nor were they all even published in 2009) but the short story collection Knock ’em Stiff by Donald Ray Pollock was the best book I read this year. It has the quality that makes a writer want to write and give up writing at the same time.
Knock ’em Stiff – Donald Ray Pollock
Literary Americana noir. Hilarious and heartbreaking
Sway – Zachary Lazar
Wonderful treatment of occult magic and a compelling insight into the gathering of dark forces in the late 60’s
Ravens – George Dawes Green
Superb slacker/grifter thriller. The writer has the eye of a poet and the ear of a dramatist – I just love it when a real writer writes a popular or category fiction novel (Thomas Harris is another good example). How long I wait for a ‘thriller’ to actually thrill too: this one did.
The Witnesses are Gone – Joel Lane
Astounding novella by Joel Lane. Reminded me of Ramsey Campbell’s Grin of the Dark and gave me uncanny flashbacks into my teens in Birmingham. Literary horror does not come any better.
Deliverance – James Dickey
I read this bloody-hard-to-get masterpiece by another American poet for the first time in 2009 … and can’t think why it took me so long.
Dark Summit – Nick Heil
Made my chest go tight and gave me vertigo while sitting in an armchair. Why do they do it?
One – Conrad Williams
A sci fi, body-horror apocalyptic epic by Conrad Williams. One of my proudest moments as an editor to publish this. Also the only novel in existence (correct me if I am wrong) to feature human caviar (we could still go down, C). Damned if I can find the right cover image online though. Virgin Books:sigh.
Shutter Island – Dennis Lehane
One of the most well-plotted novels I’ve read in a while. My good friend Mathew Riley over at Horror Reanimated put me onto this beauty. And it’s soon to be ruined (or not?) by boy-face DiCaprio
Helter Skelter – Vincent Bugliosi
A true-crime classic I finally blew the dust off in 2009. It kept me up nights. Possible precursor to the modern necessity of profiling?
Lords of Chaos – The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground – Moynihan and Soderlind
The best book on music I have ever read. And I discovered that there is a Black Metal musician called IT because he is too evil to have an actual name. Death to false metal.