Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best-loved books of 2008, #17: Favorite novel in verse about werewolves

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Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow (Harper)
(bonus: great literary genre writing!)

Today is the ALP' s birthday! In honor of the occasion, I'm posting the one book that he and I both read this year, which we also both loved. As I noted here:

"My enthusiasm for the book led to a paragraph-long staff pick [the link now busted since we switched names and websites].

The ALP was inspired to write an exploration of experimentation in genre fiction using metaphors from evolutionary theory. I kid you not."

I can't find my original staff pick at the moment, but I encourage you to read the ALP's review if you're interested in a meditation on the place of this book in the surging battle lines of literary and genre fiction.

Or, you could just read Sharp Teeth. You won't find a more engaging, suspenseful, character-driven novel in verse about werewolf tribes in Los Angeles published this year. Seriously, it's a form perfectly suited to its content, and surprisingly accessible both for those who think they don't like poetry (think teenage boys) and those who think they don't like werewolves (think adult women). Barlow read at McNally, slightly stunned by the book's success, but it's well-deserved. Along with Chabon, Lethem, Kelly Link, and others, I salute Toby Barlow as one of the great new writers of "interstitial" fiction, blurring the lines between fantastical entertainments and serious literature. Enjoy!

(And pop over to the ALP's blog and say happy birthday, while you're at it...)