Even in a year that saw the release of a blockbuster work of nonfiction about blockbusters called 'Blockbusters,' many of the best books were small enough in scope to hide their ambition. As George Saunders continued to play cutman for the American short story, two English journalists journeyed across continents in an attempt to map alcohol's role in culture and an ex-NFL tight end pulled back the curtain on life in the locker room. The world of men was scratched across book after book. These are the ones you need to read.
'The Rules of Wolfe'
'The Rules of Wolf'
By James Carlos Blake
In James Carlos Blake's 'The Rules of Wolfe,' 19-year-old Eddie Gato Wolfe, scion of a modern Texas gun-running family, goes to work for a Mexican cartel boss. When he sleeps with a cartel mistress, Eddie sets in motion an epic chase, the couple fighting their way across the border with bounty hunters in pursuit.
Born in Mexico, raised in Texas, and currently living outside Tucson, Blake, 66, turned to writing late: After a stint in the Army and years of odd jobs, he published his first novel at 48. But he quickly gained a cult following for his blood-soaked historical fiction. ('Boardwalk Empire' creator Terence Winter optioned the rights to his ragtime-era boxer saga, 'The Killings of Stanley Ketchel.') Now the breakneck-speed Wolfe, with its focus on the bad guys, is poised to introduce Blake to a broader audience. "While we like to think we've advanced morally," he says, "violence is always the bottom line."