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Book Notes: Times’ critic praises Lynch

Longtime New York Times critic Janet Maslin has included a novel by a former Spokesman-Review reporter on her list of 10 favorite books of 2012.

And no, it was not written by Jess Walter.

Maslin, a former film critic who has been reviewing books at the Times since 2000, picked “Truth Like the Sun,” by Jim Lynch, calling it a “flat-out great read with the spirit of a propulsive, character-driven 1970s movie.” Her list also includes “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn and “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain.

Still, don’t feel too bad for Walter. His “Beautiful Ruins” continues to glow in all kinds of year-end love.

In the Chicago Tribune, John Warner picked it for the inaugural Biblioracle Book Awards, in the category of “Book I Was Sure I Would Like, But Liked Even More Than I Thought I Would.” Warner wrote, “ ‘Beautiful Ruins’ hits both the funny bone and whatever bone makes you experience deep and satisfying emotion.”

It also made the Seattle Times’ best 25 list (as did Moscow, Idaho writer Kim Barnes’ “In the Kingdom of Men”). Four different reviewers recommended “Beautiful Ruins” for the staff-complied list, praising it as “satire with a beating heart.”

NPR critic Maureen Corrigan also picked it for her list, calling it a “sweeping stunner,” while Newsday put it at No. 2 on their 12 Best Books of 2012 list (behind Cheryl Strayed’s “WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”). Newsday’s Marion Wink wrote, “Throughout, Walter’s sentences are wonderful, and his bravura ending ties up every thread in a bittersweet bow.”

The Oregonian also tapped it for its year-end list, along with Sherman Alexie’s “Blasphemy,” Timothy Egan’s “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher” and “The Orchardist” from Wenatchee native Amanda Coplin.