My submissions for the Best Books of 2004 dwell on the lesser-known. I figure that since everybody lists roughly the same books that it might be worth drawing attention to some others. These may not be the best books published in 2004, but they’re certainly great books that deserve more attention:
Fiction – I Dream of Microwaves by Imad Rahman
Hilarious short story collection (and first book) by a Pakistani-American writer following the Midwestern travails and shit jobs of a non-aspiring actor and full-time drunk. In one episode, the main character takes a job as the “Zima Zorro,” tasked to sell Zima while dressed up in a ridiculous costume. In another, an acting troupe tours rural Pakistan with a modified version of Hamlet.
Nonfiction – A Chance Meeting by Rachel Cohen
Follows the interconnected lives of Amerian artists and writers across two centuries, exploring those moments when writers met and influenced one another. Lyrical, fleet prose explores the friendship of William James and W.E.B. Du Bois and the clashes of Norman Mailer with everybody. I can’t say enough good things about this miraculous book.