Best of 2004: Books

12.30.2004

By Bruce Shenitz

Books of the Year

1. Isherwood: A Life Revealed by Peter Parker (Random House, $39.95)
A massive new bio of Christopher Isherwood, the British-born author of The Berlin Stories, which was the basis for the musical Cabaret. The book, the first to draw on the mass of papers he left behind after he died in 1986, chronicles Europe and America before and after World War II, as well as Isherwood's explorations of Indian religion'and gay sexuality.

2. The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (Bloomsbury, $24.95)
A stunning novel set during the Thatcher years. Sex, drugs, class warfare'and this year's Man Booker Prize.

3. The Master by Colm T'ib'n (Scribner, $25)
An exquisitely written novel about Henry James'including his unrequited love for other men. Shortlisted for the Man Booker.

4. How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater by Marc Acito (Broadway, $19.95)
A hilarious debut novel by a syndicated humor columnist known as 'the gay Dave Barry.'

5. Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love by Edward Ball (Simon & Schuster, $24)
The story of an Englishman named Gordon Langley Hall who moved to New York, inherited a small fortune from heiress Isabel Whitney, moved to Charleston, S.C., had a sex change operation, became Dawn Langley Hall, married a black man'and claimed to give birth to a child with him. A skillfully written nonfiction account that unravels the mysteries within mysteries.

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