Poetry certainly seems to take up the larger part of my mind in 2013 but there were some other highlights. Not necessarily things that were produced/released in 2013 – just things I saw, read, heard in 2013.
1) Seeing “The Book of Mormon”….I don’t even like South Park that much – but this was so funny and deeply, deeply subversive. Truly postcolonial.
2) Reading the novel Open City by Teju Cole – Sebald in the City -and African to boot. Brilliant
3) Barbara Kingsolver’s novel – Flight Behavior. I loved her early short stories but lost faith a while back – then gave this a go. The central image of Monarch butterflies fluttering across an Appalachian valley is moving – and pertinent given recent news stories of lost and diminishing butterflies. Keep reading Nicholson Baker – and Traveling Sprinkler was deeply funny and resonant (The Mezzanine remains an all time classic – a novella length study of moving one flight up an escalator).
4) Reading (several times over) Explore Everything by Bradley Garrett. I supervised the PhD this is based on and it was a joy. I am proud of the end product. Expect a lot more! Have been most deeply inspired by reading various Michel Serres and Manuel DeLanda books – thanks to another successful PhD student – Craig Martin – for these tips.
5) Music – loved Arcade Fire’s Reflecktor but not quite as much as the Suburbs. Discovered Phosphorescent. Saw Monsters and Men on the insistence of my son in Shepherd’s Bush – now on my playlist. Saw Fiona Apple live in Boston and she was brilliant – vulnerable, strong, kooky, creative and talented with percussion on headgear. One of the most startling live performances I have ever seen. I am as big a Dylan fan as anyone in the world but even I did not believe that Self Portrait could be rescued until the latest instalment of the Bootleg series. Went to See the Gypsy is a highlight as is I threw it all away. Johnny Flynn live. Laura Marling’s new album. Listening to Bon Iver endlessly. The National. Two people I know and admire released great new albums – the sustained slow boil atmospherics of Anne Watts and Boister’s Your Would is Your Crown is top notch.
Also the Fugitives released Everything Will Happen. Full of anthemic banjo-driven stadium folk – AND this wonderful reflection on the difficulties of life and death.
6) Films – lot of good ones. An old movie – Big Bad Love – finally got the DVD and loved it. Just saw Inside Llewelyn Davis with high hopes – it fell slightly flat but since then it has grown stronger in my head as I think about its Ulysses like structure and studied shaggy cat story nature. Loved Blue is the Warmest Colour despite the controversy. Philomena was brilliantly acted and powerful. Saw all these at the Coolidge Corner Theatre near our new home in Brookline. A lovely proper movie theatre with a community feel. Mud was suitably filthy alt-Americana – even when seen on the Queen Mary II. Saw the DVD of Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell – a genre-bending auto-documentary of sheer brilliance.
Well this is all based on a sudden urge to account for such things at the end of New Year’s Day 2014 after a Gin Martini and several glasses of wine – I am sure more highlights will re-emerge…but these all meant something to me.