The Western isn't a genre of writing that I'm usually drawn to. In fact, The Sisters Brothers is the first Western I've ever read. And I LOVED it. Charles and Eli Sisters are two notorious, gun-totin', horseback ridin', brandy-swillin' assassins. Their employer, a powerful man known as The Commodore, hires them to seek out and murder a man who has slighted him. We follow the brothers on the dangerous and hilarious journey from their hometown of Oregon City, to the gleaming lights of San Francisco, where gold abounds and whores ain't cheap. DeWitt's writing is unique and wonderful, simple yet vividly descriptive. It's funny, violent, creepy, and sad, with pitch-perfect dialogue and one-liners that you'll be quoting for days to come. With hints of True Grit, O Brother Where Art Thou, and Deadwood, and with a cast of players that would put John Irving to shame, The Sisters Brothers is the Western re-imagined for the 21st century.
I love him for the cult TV series Spaced. I love him for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. And my love will even go so far as to forgive him for the bland, Hollywood-soaked How To Lose Friends and Infuriate People. I often shy away from 'celebrity' biographies but this one is definitely worth a read (even if you don't love Pegg as much as I do). Candid, intelligent, and unsurprisingly hilarious, Pegg tells of his 80s upbringing, the moments that gave birth to his desire to perform, and how the 'nerd' tag has successfully served his career. Also enjoyable are Pegg's attempts at his own sci-fi fiction novel, cleverly inserted between chapters of the memoir.
#3 Solar by Ian McEwan
McEwan has had an impressive 35 year career as an author, and his latest offering, Solar, keeps him on track as one of the most important novelists of our time. Solar's destructive, self-obsessed, womanising anti-hero, Michael Beard, is a Nobel-prize winning scientist. With his fledgling career and deteriorating marriage, Beard is suddenly offered an opportunity to give his career an almighty boost, and a chance to save the world no less. In this book, McEwan takes a very topical and serious subject matter - global warming - and makes it funny. And rather sexy.
#2 Just Kids by Patti Smith
"Just Kids" is Patti Smith's memoir, and tribute to renowned photographer Robert Mapplethorpe - her friend, lover, and artistic collaborator. Smith writes of a time when they were "just kids" hanging out in the vibrant New York City of the late 60s/early 70s, living in near-poverty, but determined to realise their artistic ambitions - his for photography, hers for songwriting. Also recounting curious meetings with such musical icons as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and author Allen Ginsberg, "Just Kids" is a beautifully-written memoir.
#1 Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngardt
Touted as the best new American satirist of our time, Gary Shteyngardt doesn't disappoint with SSTLS. Largely comical but often times elegant and moving, it is the love story between a middle-aged, down-on-his-luck, Russian-American man and a young, ultra-cool Korean girl. Against the backdrop of a near-future America, frightening in its seemingly impending accuracy, we're taken on the tumultuous ride that is the relationship of this unlikely couple.