Some books, music, and movies that I loved in 2014. In no particular order, with notes on a few.
Books (Released This Year)
PDF – Tati Luboviski-Acosta
Man v. Nature – Diane Cook
A stunning, well crafted debut collection. The stories are brightly polished and find new territory between George Saunders’ character studies and Aimee Bender’s fables. You can read a great (really great, not just linking for shits and giggles) interview with the author here.
Arafat Mountain – Mike Kleine
A Different Bed Every Time – Jac Jemc
Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) – Jeff VanderMeer
VanderMeer’s literary Sci-Fi series is a sprawling examination of an impossible place. While his style is genre-y, his structure and how he communicates exposition are unique, and the whole terror/terroir distinction was fascinating. Probably the most plot-based fun I’ve had this year.
Nevers – Megan Martin
Niceties – Elizabeth Mikesch
300,000,000 – Blake Butler
Sprezzatura – Mike Young
Books (Released Previously)
Tripticks – Ann Quin
Bought this randomly at a used bookstore in Hotchkiss, CO. Can’t remember the last time my mind has been so blown by someone’s writing, and I’ve spent most of the year trying to understand it. Tripticks is Quin’s fourth and last book, and it’s about California, ex-wives, a cult leader named Nightripper, and an insane variety of other things. It’s her masterpiece. I can’t recommend it enough.
Berg – Ann Quin
Passages – Ann Quin
Three – Ann Quin
The Isle of Youth – Laura van den Berg
Makes a good pair with Cook’s Man v. Nature. High level of craft, fascinating characters, and an abundance of precisely constructed sentences. Very excited for her first novel, Find Me, out in February next year.
Hour of the Star – Clarice Lispector
Frisk – Dennis Cooper
Speedboat – Renata Adler
Kind One – Laird Hunt
Burning Daylight – Christine Fellows
Fellows’ album of “minimalist Klondike showtunes” caught me completely off guard. While I enjoyed her last album, I wasn’t crazy about it, and Burning Daylight had a pretty quiet release. However, I think it’s her most successful album to date. A song-cycle about a the Yukon Gold Rush, Fellows’ music fuses showtune grandeur with solemn folk songs about freezing to death. Each song is intricately constructed, and the book of Fellows’ poems that accompanies it serves as a welcome partner to the album. The false ending during “Arcadia” is easily my favorite musical moment of this year. You can stream the album here.
They Want My Soul – Spoon
Shallow – Porya Hatami
A U R O R A – Ben Frost
To Be Kind – Swans
Where Shine New Lights – Tara Jane O’Neil
Beauty and Ruin – Bob Mould
Sea Island – Loscil
A well executed, beautifully shot revenge story. The script is very focused on process and repercussions of violence, and the whole thing has a great arc to it.
Under the Skin
Definitely my favorite score of the year. The music is tightly ingrained with the action, both accompanying and informing the main character’s journey.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
A Field in England