Monday, December 24, 2012

2012, yeah?


PROLOGUE
2012 has been a bit of a year, don’t want to brag, like, but compared the very little I’ve done since 1977, it deserves a bit of a hurrah.
We had a really cute baby (well, I just sat and napped and watched while my wife had the baby, but still...), and we named her Josie, a cool punk-rock-kitten sister to Jacob who is nearly four now.
I got a degree, and started a Masters.
I ran and completed a 10k race, having ‘taken up’ running a couple of months before.
I’ve read some stories out in public, and had one published by the EvergreenReview.
The wife and I DJ’d for a music festival which took place in a West Bromwich art gallery.

BUT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ALL THAT SELF-CONGRATULATORY NONSENSE, MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR ARE:

This is Life is the reason that Rhodes’ best novel to date was called Gold: because this is as good as Gold. Laced with Rhodes’ comedy and economy – not one sentence is unnecessary – this novel manages to host complex arguments of art and science, and the meaning of life, and the pain of loss, while being a genuine lovely and exciting Parisian romp. I recommend someone reads Dan Rhodes at least once a week: this week is no different.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I wrote my final dissertationy-thing on Eugenides’ debut The Virgin Suicides: it’s fair to say I was already a fan when I bought this book the moment the paperback came out. And while the David Foster Wallace connotations are wasted on me (I made it halfway through Infinite Jest and gave up) the pragmatic love story at its heart is wonderfully realised, and the novel is splattered with a degree of intertextuality that in the wrong hands would be cloying and convoluted, but in Eugenides’ delicate and un-rushed typing, adds colour and texture that really makes it something special indeed.

Everything by Andrew Kaufman     

I’ve read All My Friends are Superheroes, The Waterproof Bible and The Tiny Wife by the Canadian author Andrew Kaufman this year, and fell in love with his work in the same way I did with Dan Rhodes. Clever, surreal, witty and funny and utterly heartbreaking, Kaufman has the same concise style of writing as Rhodes, and every word is as rich as can be. His latest novel Born Weird is out more-or-less now – I’ve pre-ordered the Kindle version which is out on Jan 2nd, but the hardback is already in shops.

Sunstroke and other stories by Tessa Hadley
The stories in this collection are each seemingly domesticated and commonplace and straight-forward slices of life. But each has an under-current of subversion, of taboo-breaking, and of realism – each narrator is so real and alive and known – and ever-so-slightly magical. Her work reminds me of one of my favourite writers, Katherine Mansfield, and that is always a good thing.

by Richard King
A history of indie music, and independent record labels, written with real heart and awe. An indie little brother to England’s Dreaming, it is naturally selective and narrow in it’s scope – otherwise King would still be writing it today, and it loses nothing by leaving out band x or band y for the sake of narrative or space.

AND 2012’s OTHER FINE MOMENTS INCLUDED:

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast
Introduced by the lasciviously-intellectually voiced Deborah Treisman, this podcast gets New Yorker short story writers – Dave Eggers, Tessa Hadley,
Daniel Alarc√≥n – to choose and read their favourite story from The New Yorker’s vast archives. Well worth subscribing to on the iTunes programme thing.

Diseases of England by The Indelicates
Parts I and II are out and are as bitter and vital and sneering and desperate as any other band releasing records ever.

American Sitcoms
I love American sitcoms at the moment. 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, The Office, Community, Up All Night, Whitney... they’re just in such a rich vein of form. Worth moving to the US for alone, I’m sure.

So yeah, here’s to 2012, thanks for all the fun, and roll on 2013, and HAPPY CHRISTMAS!