Pole Lacquer [Nov 22, 2004]

My novel Never Mind The Pollacks has recently been published in Germany. It's the only foreign edition of the book thus far, and there are no others in sight. For your amusement, I link to an English translation of a German-language review here. The review contains what I believe to be the most accurate summation of the book to date: "Neal pole lacquer does not know it also, and therefore he sends in Never Mind The Pollacks its old ego by the turbulent history skirt. It bends itself it so grotesque by right that sometimes the reality shows up."

Indeed. And now I present to you, for no reason other than I'm arrogant enough to think that people care about my opinion, my top five books of 2004. When I say top five, I mean the five best fiction books I've read that were published this year. I might even say the five best fiction books by Jews that were published this year, but I can't because I don't think that Neil Gaiman is Jewish. No, wait. He is Jewish. So my top five books are all by Jewish authors. Who would have believed? A brief description of each follows.

1. Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames. An absolutely hilarious updating of P.G. Wodehouse, starring an extremely neurotic writer and his imaginary valet, who unwittingly disrupt a peaceful artists' colony in upstate New York.

2. My Old Man by Amy Sohn. A rabbinical school dropout has an affair with an aging film director who bears a startling resemblance to Jim Jarmusch. Tender, funny, and honest, rare qualities in a vast sea of books about the sex lives of New Yorkers.

3. I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl. In an amazing act of literary ventriloquism, Stahl tells the tragic story of Fatty Arbuckle, the first Hollywood star to have his life ruined by scandal. As always in a Stahl book, there are lots of drugs and any number of sexual dysfunctions caused by bad upbringing.

4. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. An important book in an age when books aren't important. Someone should really give this Roth fellow the recognition he deserves.

5. Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman. The Marvel comics universe re-imagined in Elizabethan England. Unfolds like a familiar dream, with really cool battle scenes. It bends itself it so grotesque by right that sometimes the reality shows up.