What can YOU say in six sentences?
Everyone likes year-end lists, right? Or is annoyed by them, but here goes anyway: What were your favorite books/films/songs of the year? I'm gonna list my top 20 CDs from 2010 along with 6 of the best books I read this year (none of which was actually published in 2010). No real guidelines here, let your spirit be your guide, etc.
My favorite 20 records of 2010 (in no particular order):
1 LCD Soundsytem This is Happening
2 Ash Pool For Which He Plies the Lash
3 Michael Mayer Immer 3 (this is an electronic mix that includes plenty of stuff from other years, but whatever)
4 Health Disco 2
5 Crystal Castles II
6 Sufjan Stevens All Delighted People EP
7 Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record
8 The Books The Way Out
9 Fang Island Fang Island
10 Flying Lotus Cosmogramma
11 In the Year of the Pig Jamon
12 Zola Jesus Stridulum & Valusia EPs
13 Superchunk Majesty Shredding
14 James Blake CMYK & Klavierwerke EPs
15 Robyn Body Talk
16 Liturgy Rehinilation (actually came out in 2009, but I got it this year and it's definitely the most intense, unrelenting metal assault I've come across in some time, so it belongs)
17 Transportation Amusement Park
18 The Extra Lens Undercard
19 Joanna Newsom Have One on Me
20 Drive-By Truckers The Big To-Do
Six Great Books I Read in 2010
JR, by William Gaddis. Someone once said that great writers teach you how to read them. Couldn't be a more appropriate commentary on Mr. Gaddis, whose scathing and heart-broken meditation on the folly of unchecked capitalism is told primarily in unattributed dialogue. The climactic debate between 11-year old JR and his hapless adult go-between is one of the great meditations on art v. commerce ever written. This book is also, for all its tragedy, laugh out loud funny for much of its 600+ pages.
Rabbit at Rest, by John Updike. Updike & his lusty anti-heroes take a lot of (often legitimate) heat for their raging misogyny, but here's the thing: Harry 'Rabbit' Angstrom is never presented as a role model, but rather as they typical white American male of each of the eras in which the Rabbit books take place (50s-90s) and from what I understand, the males of this era often were sexist, racist, etc. This is not subtle: Harry acts as Uncle Sam for a 4th of July parade in this last of the 4 novels. But Harry pays a dear price for all his malingering & denial, and the final culmination of his last run (completing a desperate flight begun and aborted in Rabbit, Run, 30 years earlier) is one of the most moving and cautionary pieces of writing I've ever come across. Updike was the greatest American realist of his time, and I for one will miss both the ugliness and the beauty he found within us.
Cosmopolis, by Don DeLillo. JR all grown up. And in under 200 pages.
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. Much is made of Mitchell's ability to genre-jump in this novel, which consists of 6 separate but intertwined stories. He is convincing no matter which voice he tries, and as the connections become clear during the pivotal "Sloosha's Crossin' and Ev'rtyhin' After" section, the prodigious grandiosity of his achievement begins to really glow. This makes the completion of each story--the first half of each is told in the first half of the book, the 2nd half in the 2nd--a dazzling feat of imagination as he delivers on each of the literary promises he's made. The final soliloquy serves as a humanist manifesto that is as stirring and noble as the voice in which it is told.
Springer's Progress, by David Markson. Markson became better known (and rightly so) later in his career for the boundless experimentalism of books like This is Not a Novel and Wittgenstien's Mistress but this was one of his earlier novels, a ribald and earthy take on the same sort of jerk-y womanizer that could be considered a real turn-off if the narrator were any less of an overt bumbler. Springer's fascination with his young paramour and his conquest of one nasty writer's block combine into a heady affair that shows the nascent repetitive and metered prose that would later become Markson's calling card.
Consider the Lobster, by David Foster Wallace. For those daunted by Infinite Jest's size and reputation, this book of Wallace's essays (along with A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again) are a great starting point. His lucidity, humanity and moral outrage are delivered with some of the most flat-out amazing prose of the past few decades. Subject matter ranges from a lobster-eating festival that becomes a meditation on animal rights to a grudgingly admiring profile of John McCain that hurts all the more deeply for what that man eventually became, and a lengthy discussion of English language usage and form that should be mandatory for any writer who cares about meaning.
So, what about you guys?
Gita's Various Recommendations for 2010
Dexter (television series on Showtime)
Winter's Bone (movie written and directed by Debra Granik)
Fair Game (movie directed by Doug Liman)
New Voice (to me) in 2010: Bruno Mars
Book: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Book: Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
Book: The Known World, by Edward P Jones
Winter's Bone is one of the best films I've seen in years. Reminded me of Frozen River, another good indie from a couple years ago. My wife swears by that Ishiguro book, too.
Ishiguro also wrote "The Remains of the Day," and two more different stories you could not find. His range is vast. I, too, really loved Frozen River. I believe that was where I first saw the actress Melissa Leo. She is currently in theaters in the movie "The Fighter," and man is she amazing in that!
Because I have shockingly bad recall I can only think of books read, and transported by, in 2010:
Cormac McCarthy: 'Border Trilogy'
A.L. Kennedy: 'Everything you need'
Greg Hollingshead: 'The healer'
and one CD that filled my head for a few weeks
one which accompanied an Irish holiday
Editors: 'And end has a start'
'The Uncrowned Kings of England - The Black Legend of the Dudleys' by Derek Wilson
If you wrote a completely fictitious novel set in Tudor times, you would be hard put to come up with a story as fantastic as the history of this family and it's association with the Tudor monarchs. They ranged from warriors to traitors and behind the scenes dictators to lovers.
'The Winds of Dune' Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson.
When I first read Frank Herbert's 'Dune' long ago, I was stunned by the sheer scope of it. I suppose I've been a sucker for that universe ever since. I don't think any subsequent novels hit me with the same power as the original, but I read them all the same.
'The Black Hole Wars' by Leonard Susskind. Mr Susskind is one of my favourite science writers who manages to get over very strange ideas, and make them seem ... almost normal.
"The Horseman". Australian film that is savage, brutal, horrendous ... but strangely compelling because of it's gritty reality.
"The Road" film of Cormac McCarthy's bleak view of an apocolyptic future. Like Sandra I've also read the 'Border Trilogy' and although Mr McCarthy's writing winds into dark places ... you can't put it down! The Road was not a film that would make you feel good ... far from it. But then Cormac isn't in the 'feel good' business.
Sons of Anarchy
Wallander (swedish and british versions)
Lie to Me
Stargate Universe (which gets darker by the hour).
Ancient Worlds .. Richard Miles laid back and sometimes cynical view of early Greek and Roman civilizations.
Have to add another film, which was loaned to me by a family member over christmas.
Viggo Mortensen (again), Naomi Watts, a Brando style Armin Mueller-Stahl.
Now that is how to make a gangster picture ....
My favorite book of 2010 is Culture of Corruption by Michelle Malkin.
My favorite movie of 2010 is Woman In the Dunes, even though is was made in 1964. LOL
And although Breaking bad is a great Series, my favorite TV series of 2010 is Zatoichi, even though it debuted in 1962. Ha
Right, that's the trouble with lists. You always want to add something .. and here I am adding something.
So, an animated film, I saw last night (so it still qualifies for 2010, now as as far away as 1910, or 1810 ... and so on and so on).
Animated films have enjoyed renewed success in recent decades... but I have to say, have become in a bit formulised. Like NICE NICE and guys in black hats and white hats and .. well .. and so on and so on.
Today I watched 'Fantastic Mr Fox' on the old goggle box (about all I could muster on New Years Day) ... and what a surprise.
Different, original, beautiful ... seriously enjoyable ... a break from the mould ... weird too, well it had to be, if it wasn't, it would have been none of the above.
I bloody luvved it.
I think my favorite film of 2011 will be The Human Condition. It's a small flick--only nine-and-a-half hours long! LOL!
And the editing may have been done a bit haphazardly, but it's still the ultimate anti-war movie.