I'll spare you any sort of critical analysis of this text that may be stewing around inside me. I'd have a hard time explaining myself without sounding too silly, convoluted and without stumbling all over myself, mouth full of feet. Roy Harris however, is able to gracefully tackle the topics of art history, criticism, and 'artspeak' without falling apart. The Great Debate About Art is a short, accessible and most importantly to me, acerbic text that hammers out why my face has fallen flat at so many art shows and museums. It's a book about a lot more than just art. The human condition is big.
I had a rough and tumble time picking out my personal favorites of 2010. To whittle down the number of choices I decided to stick to just one fiction and one non-fiction title that I could consider particularly striking. Of course if you'd like to hear me expand on the topic you know where I work. Ask me. You'll be in for it. Promise.
Generally I am a reader of authors that express a certain unadulterated exuberance or enthusiasm for the mystery of the living world. Cendrars, Simic, Miller and Hamsun are a few that jump to mind immediately. Williams' novel Stoner is narrated in quite the opposite fashion. The titular character, William Stoner, is practically lead by a leash toward his passions, barely by his own volition, which for the most part make their beds in the confines of stuffy places such as his university's library, studies, offices, etc. He follows these, lives humbly amongst them and moves on. It's difficult to explain how exciting this novel is. Essentially it is about a quiet, dull life of an unremarkable man. What is mesmerizing about it however is how infinitely relatable the minutia of Stoner's life is. This is no work of 'gripping' daring do. It is a novel of a tranquil, lucid sort of genius and I cannot recommend it highly enough.