Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Best of ...
"Best" lists coming from me aren't fair to anyone. I have such a poor memory that
whenever you ask me what my favorites are—books, movies, games—my answer will be skewed toward what I've just read, seen, or played.
That said, I think the novel I finished this weekend would have made my list even if I'd read it last January: Joseph Kanon's STARDUST. Set in post WWII Hollywood, the story deals with the effect of the anticommunist crusades against the producers, directors, casts, and crews of movies. There's something to be learned about the craft of writing on every page. Though the mystery (there is one) is solved, it's not the essence of the book. What we see in stark detail are people desperate to survive, willing to sacrifice even honor and loyalty, for the sake of survival. The meaning of freedom is very much the theme of the book; the characters are as familiar as the next person you may or may not trust.
I also enjoyed Richard Russo's THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC very much, and Joyce Carol Oates' LITTLE BIRD OF HEAVEN.* In both cases, family dynamics are at the forefront, with nuances that startled me as a reader and impressed me as a writer.
(*I should say that I'm not mentioning books by friends or sister bloggers since it's a given that I love those!)
For nonfiction, though it's not brand new: BLUE MONDAY: Stories of Absurd Realities and Natural Philosophies by Robert Sumrel. Unusual and thought-provoking connections among architecture, urban living, and fiction. It comes in through the back door of metaphysics, in a mind-bending way.
Movies. I wish I could say, "Dexter: The Movie" but that would be a hint to Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter books, to write it. Of those too few that I saw in 2009, I also wish I could say, "Amelia," since that would have been a great movie, if it had been made well. As it was, I agree with the reviewer who said, "Amelia Earhart is still missing."
I saw most movies in 2009 on DVD, most recently Johnny Depp as Dillinger, a definite thumbs up. A charming gangster, what's not to like?
Games. Happy as I am with my new DROID, I still prefer hard copy board games to video games. Enough screens in my life already! At Christmas we played Guessters, a card game that involved matching wits with a dealer. The dealer (who had only adjectives) might play SCARY; the players (who had only nouns) would have to play a card that evoked SCARY. The trick was to figure what the dealer would pick as SCARY from all the entries. I might play "countryside" as SCARY, but not if I thought the dealer would consider "traffic" as more scary!
A great 2009 moment: seeing Angela Lansbury on Broadway in Blythe Spirit.
Too many great moments at home to count!
Like Joanna, I know 2010 will be a great year. In fact, I started it off with a research trip for my next book on January 2. See if you can figure out where I was. A prize to the first who gets it. Answer next week!
Please tell us at KillerHobbies what we can present to you to make your 2010 more enjoyable! Do you have themes, ideas, questions we can address? We have some of our own, but love it when you give us a suggestion.