Well. What is there to say about 2008? Dickens was on to something with that “best of times, worst of times” business. I’m not going to rehash all the personal peaks and valleys this year, since most of you know about them already. I’ll just move on to my usual wrap-up.
My page total went down this year, which comes as no surprise. I knew I couldn’t keep setting a new personal record every year (although I did have my best-ever month in October). However, I wrote over a million words for the year again, which is the fourth year in a row I’ve topped the million-word mark. Back about March, I would have said that wasn’t even going to be possible this year, so I’m proud of reaching that milestone. That output breaks down to 13 novels (man, I wish I’d been able to do one more! he said superstitiously) under six different names, and one short story, which had my name on it. Two of the novels have already been published, as has the short story. I also started two spec novels that I’ll write one of these days, as well as a couple of short stories that I’ll finish before too much longer, I hope. I think I’m doing pretty good work most days. I continue to be amazed, after more than thirty years in the business, how much I’m still learning all the time about how to write.
I read 110 books this year. That’s low for me. I usually top 120, and 140 or 150 isn’t uncommon. But most of them were really good books. Here are my top ten favorites, in the order in which I read them:
MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE, Lee Goldberg – probably the funniest book I read all year, and even funnier if you know Lee or even just read his blog. Plus it’s an excellent mystery.
SLEEPING DOGS, Ed Gorman – as usual, you can’t go wrong with Gorman, especially when he’s writing about something he knows as well as he does politics.
SHADOW OF THE LARIAT, Jon Tuska, ed. – a big anthology of stories and novelettes mostly from the Western pulps, with a superb line-up of authors.
MONEY SHOT, Christa Faust – a fast, well-written thriller with a wonderful protagonist and a great voice.
SANDSTORM, James Rollins – this book is too long and the plot goes ’way over the top at times . . . but Rollins kept me reading effortlessly all the way through and did a top-notch job of entertaining me.
DEAD MEN’S LETTERS, Erle Stanley Gardner – a collection of linked novelettes from BLACK MASK in the Twenties about Ed Jenkins, the Phantom Crook. Nobody has ever topped Gardner when it comes to pacing a story.
THE ENEMY ACE ARCHIVES, VOL. I, Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert – a deluxe reprinting of some of the best war comics of all time, with beautiful art by Joe Kubert that’s stuck in my head ever since I first saw it in the Sixties.
LOST LIGHT, Michael Connelly – Connelly’s shake-up of his Harry Bosch series by turning Bosch from a third-person cop to a first-person PI, and it works beautifully.
WE3, Grant Morrison – the best graphic novel I read this year. A lightning-fast, heartbreaking story with a fantastic ending.
SOLOMON’S VINEYARD, Jonathan Latimer – a famously controversial private eye novel that I’ll be posting about in a couple of days on the return of Forgotten Books Friday.
As for what’s coming up that I’ll be reading (and writing about) in ’09, you can expect more graphic novels, more pulp stuff, more vintage paperbacks, a sampling of new books . . . really, you never know. My attention span is short, and I like it that way.
I didn’t keep track of how many movies we watched this year, nor do I have a list of favorites. But I enjoyed just about everything we watched, at least to a certain extent.
It seems like 2008 has been a rough year in some way for just about everybody I know. It’s my hope that 2009 is a better year for all of us. I plan to do what I can to make it that way.
The Dark Side of the Island
47 minutes ago