How much list could the Booklist list if the Booklist could list books?
What really makes his lists stand out, though, is that he states his criteria at the outset. This seems like an obvious thing to do, but most list-compilers never do it. That failure, more than anything else, accounts for the endless ear bending, bandwidth consuming and time wasting that follow the publication of most top 10, 50 or 100 lists.
Ott's predisposition is for the darker regions of crime fiction. At the same time, he is not dogmatic, nor is he condescending about other kinds of crime.
"(L)et’s face this issue squarely," he writes. "As crime fiction continues to attract more and more writers of a distinctly literary bent who want to use the genre to build multifaceted characters and to explore sensitive social issues and address questions of profound moral ambiguity, it is almost inevitable that darker worldviews and less formulaic plots will come to dominate `best' lists. ... But don’t get us wrong: sometimes a good cozy hits the spot just perfectly. Just not this year on this list."That's a thoughtful assessment, and it lets the reader know exactly where Ott stands. One can't ask more than that, which is why Bill Ott's tops my list of best lists.
What about you, readers? What's your favorite list, preferably but not necessarily of crime fiction? And what makes a good list? Novelty of conception? Of content? Agreement with your preferences? Careful thought on the list maker's part?
© Peter Rozovsky 2008