Saturday, December 29, 2007

a year's end list


Haruki Murakami, particularly Dance Dance Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase. The thing I like about Murakami, aside from the lovely writing (or, at least, the lovely translation of his writing), is how he wraps the surreal and bizarre in a mundane skin. You become so enmeshed in the solid detail of his worlds that you are ready to see, or taste, or feel anything he wants you to; and it's only when you put the book down and have sat back and had a cup of tea and thought about it for a while that you realize how preposterous such things are... but they're already sitting in your head like heavy little pebbles so it's too late to stop believing.

Ian McEwan. I read Atonement after reading one of those bright young thing books--a consciously literary story full of quirk and flying trapeze vocabulary--which was good, but exhausting. Atonement felt solid after that. It's claustrophobic and tragic and romantic and devastating; and while McEwan plays with perception and time, I didn't feel like he was ever just trying to dazzle with some sort of flim-flam. It's a well-made story and it made me feel, which is always the point.

Bill Bryson. I've been dipping into Bryson for a couple years, but I finally sat down and read A Walk in The Woods all the way through. It's absolutely hilarious and wonderful.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
. There were many things about this book that I didn't like. However, I'm also a person who has an obsession with knowing How Things Turn Out, so finally getting to read the last book was a relief. I could have done without knowing How Things Get Wrapped Up Nice And Tidy And Tied With A Shiny Ribbon though. That last epilogue had me gagging on happy endings. Snape continued to be my favourite character (I nearly did a small dance of giddiness during his chapter) and I was crushed that Sirius Black did not make a last minute reappearance.


Pushing Daisies. Whimsy, quirk, and oversaturated colors on top of a splendidly morbid premise. It's like a weekly dose of Jean Pierre Jeunet, only in English and with Jim Dale narrating.

Chuck. I love spy shows. I watched every single episode of Alias, even when it started crashing downhill at breakneck speed and the plots became more repetitive and more absurd than you might believe possible. Chuck is a spy show, but it's funny. It's also clever, ridiculous, and utterly enjoyable.

Torchwood. As my sister says, this scratches the itch but it's not as satisfying as the real thing. Maybe it's not Doctor Who, but it's still in a universe where the Doctor exists, along with monsters and space ships and marvelous, shiny gadgets.

The History Boys. Really excellent. Fascinating to see people who worked on the same part for so long in a theater setting transfer that work to film.

The Darjeeling Limited. Which has my favourite soundtrack ever. I play it over and over and over until anyone in the vicinity tells me to turn it off.

The Lives of Others. Made me cry, made me angry, and gave me a satisfied glow when the ending turned out exactly as good as I could have hoped. The brilliant thing though is that I thought the end was going to be sad and grey and unfulfilling, and then at the last moment it wasn't. Brilliant.

James McAvoy, because The Last King of Scotland and Becoming Jane were two of the few movies I saw this year that made me think, that was good. Also because he is Mr. Tumnus. Also because he was in Starter For Ten, which also boasts the amazing character of Salmon. My friend, Miguele, and I are going to start a fan club for the man who has the best sneer I've ever seen.


BBC Radio Plays. I had forgotten all about the existence of radio plays until my hurt knee forced me into long hours of sitting down. Now I want to write one.

Fionn Regan. Lullaby voice. I never actually pay attention to the lyrics because as soon as he starts singing I want to be curled up in an armchair and half-way to dreamy contemplation of nothing. He could be saying horrible, depressing, maudlin words and I'd never know.

The Kinks. Mainly for "Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues" and their songs in Wes Anderson movies.

David Bowie. "Starman" is making me rethink my childhood dislike of Labyrinth.

... I was going to write more, but I started this so long ago, back when it was still that dusty year of two-thousand and seven. Now we're in 2008 (such a round and loopy number, shall we all be fat and happily crazed this year?) and I don't feel inclined to finish. So here's my end of year summation, incomplete and inconclusive, leaving the way open for whatever treasures throw themselves across my path in this curvaceous, this round and contented, year of 2008.


Anonymous said...

this is a link to an article listing one man's opinion on all the things wrong with dave eggers and the rest of the "bright young thing" writers, an article which I found interesting, and mostly agreed with. But I haven't checked out the rest of the site too closely, so I am blameless if they turn out to have a crazy agenda against Brooklyn writers or others.

- crapaud

Anonymous said...

or try this smaller easier-to-swallow url that i didn't screw up

Mary B. said...

When I saw James McAvoy as Mister Tumnus, I melted. He seemed to convey such empathy in his eyes, right? He (well, pretty much the first twenty minutes of that movie) were the best things about the recent film adaptation of THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE.

Megan Kurashige said...

Yes! Mr. Tumnus was the best part of that movie.