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The Year in Review, Again

Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.

 

Over the last few years, I have noticed that I struggle to read, watch, or hear anything in a timely manner, anymore. I used to, but now, nah. I gave up even pretending years ago.

With that said, what follows is a mix of things I’ve enjoyed through the year. Maybe some of them came out this year, but most likely, they didn’t. For example, two of the novels I enjoyed this year, E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India and Eleanor Catton’s the Luminaries, did not. Both were very different books: Forster’s well known classic was a study of manners within colonialism, and beautifully written in dense, tight prose. An excellent book that I reckon you should read, if you haven’t. Catton’s, set in the New Zealand goldfields, was a big, sprawling book about murder, and star crossed lovers, and the zodiac. Excellent, really. A bit repetitious in places, but overall, excellent. My other novel not published this year but which I thought really excellent was Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table, which followed a character named Michael as he sails from Colombo to England. The title refers to the table where the poor and unconnected sit. I thought this novel had an almost bittersweet, coming of age story to it, in which the promise of youth and the regrets of adulthood seeped into each other at the end.

For books published this year, I also enjoyed Brendan Connell’s the Metanatural Adventures of Dr. Black quite a lot. It is the type of book that I think will slip beneath the radar of a lot of people, which is unfortunate, because it is his best, and a fine object of a book as well. For books that I read last year but were published this year that I think you ought to check out, I recommend Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky, a book about revolutions, and the cost of revolutions in a finely made world. Buy the American edition of the book and you even get to see the blurb that I gave it a year or so ago. Oh yeah.

Film wise, my favourite of the year was Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, which was a film that completely focused on the potential that vampires have, and a return to form for Jarmusch, at least as far as I was concerned. There were other films that I saw, some in cinemas, some not, but that’s the one I liked the most. I also enjoyed Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and Sidney Lumet’s Serpico. Both are quite different films – the first is about an oil man in the late 19th century and the second about a cop who speaks out against corruption in the 60s – but I thought that they were all pretty cool.

For music, my albums of the year were the Swans’ To Be Kind and A Silver Mt. Zion’s Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything.

Comic wise, I enjoyed Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, which I read in its collected form, and Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT which remains excellent and does what few comic books do with its use of the page. My favourite in terms of monthly series remains James Roberts and Alex Milne’s Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, and the on going B.R.P.D. title managed by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, and a roster of artists. a special mention should go to Sharon Stone’s art in Transformers: Windblade and some of the various Transformer titles – sweet, stylish stuff. I hope to see more of her in various places.

To be fair, I am sure there are things I have missed here and there. I’ve lost track of a lot during the year, to be fair (and I don’t watch a lot of TV – I always drift away from things from episode to episode) so the list is just the stuff that has sort of stuck with me by the end. I consumed a whole lot less, just in general, which I’m not too pleased about, but that was the nature of my year. Hopefully, next year will be better, and more consistant.

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ironed_orchid
Dec. 16th, 2014 03:55 am (UTC)
I was given The Luminaries for my birthday in June, and I still haven't started it. This is mostly because I try not to start new books if I have to get up in a timely manner the next day: I know from experience that I am all too likely to stay up late reading. It's just happened that every time I had a weekend* I was already mid way through re-reading another book which I wanted to finish before starting anything else. I should have a bunch of free time in Jan, so will try to start it then.


*my weekends are often midweek, and 3 days long
benpeek
Dec. 17th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC)
weekends. i remember them. they're... wait, no i don't.

anyhow, it's a cool book. fully recommend, as i said.
deborahlive
Dec. 16th, 2014 06:23 pm (UTC)
Speaking of books from olden times... I went on a Somerset Maugham binge early in the year. The Razor's Edge, Of Human Bondage, The Moon and Sixpence, short stories, including an early novel called The Magician. The bad guy in The Magician was based (loosely, says SM) on Aleister Crowley and made Crowley all kinds of angry. Anyway, good stuff all of it and I'm not sure why I'd never read any of them before.

I have A Passage to India started but I keep wandering off and reading something easier or lighter.

I started out the year planning to read 50 books (which, as I recall, was something you were doing for a while). In November I was at 42 and then I took this retail job and I don't think I'll make it to 50. Oh well. I kind of like my retail job (the apparel department at a big One-Stop Shopping place that isn't Walmart and has a Union). I feel like I should apologize for that. :)

Happy Holidays.
benpeek
Dec. 17th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)

i try to do that fifty two books a year thing every year. just as a goal, you know? i've yet to hit it, though. especially this year - this year was pretty bad for books, all up. it took me longer than it should have to get through the catton and forster, just cause of things going on.

but i really should try some of the maugham. i've never read any of that.
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