1. A Heart So White, by Javier Marías
A very good book, very well crafted, intelligent and humane. It starts with a woman just back from honeymoon who leaves the lunch table, goes into the bathroom, and carefully shoots herself in the heart. It's told from the point of view of the son of the widower from his next marriage, who finds out about these events not long after getting married himself. I've had this on my Amazon wishlist for ages, but was put off a bit because of the immense length of his sentences, which goes to show that Amazon's Look Inside feature is not always helpful. But I quickly got used to the style, and I think now I will read everything else he has ever written.
2. Hint Fiction: an Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, ed. Robert Swartwood
Some of these ultra-short stories are very good indeed. They should be the captions to paintings. Here's "Shipwrecked" by Bob Thurber:
After we buried the captain, we salvaged the Victrola. It worked, though the mahogany was ruined. Half of us put on dresses. And we danced.
3. Lady into Fox and A Man in the Zoo, by David Garnett
Two novellas. In the first a man's wife suddenly turns into a fox. He's quite upset about it. Apparently David Garnett was with his wife, Ray, in a woodland one day trying to see some fox cubs, and he said that it was no use, that the only way they would see any foxes was if she turned into a fox suddenly, and that this wouldn't surprise him. So she said he should write it. She was an illustrator, and made excellent woodcuts to go with it. Nonetheless he dedicated it to his lover Duncan Grant -- oh those Bloomsburyites. The second story is about a man who moves into a zoo after an argument with his fiancee. It's very good stuff.
4. Moo, by Jane Smiley
A brilliant book set in a mid-western university. It has a huge university-wide cast and short chapters, and is shrewd and funny. A lot of it has to do with grant applications and research funding, but it is far more interesting than that sounds. It's one of those rare books which I enjoyed so much I found myself stopping reading just to feel good that I had so much of it left. (I felt the same about Wolf Hall and The Children's Book.) I love Jane Smiley.
5. The File on H, by Ismail Kadare
I should probably read more Eastern European stuff. This is a novel based on the trip that Alfred B. Lord and his friend Parry made to Yugoslavia in the 1930s to record oral transmission in the wild in the hope that it would shed light on Homer. We looked at this when I was undergraduate because oral vs written transmission is a big deal in Old English literature. This novel moves the events across the mountains to the author's native Albania, where the visitors are suspected of being spies. It's very funny and clever.