Big year. The world’s not over, that’s some pretty big news. Lots of words and sounds made me smile this year. I began writing all early-sketched notes on my phone. I have mixed feeling on this new process, but even the notes for this list began there.
Reading for 2009:
The Failure Six, by Shane Jones
I read this novella three times. Yeah Light Boxes is clenching words cut down to bone, but when it comes down to it I’d marry The Failure Six and keep Light Boxes on the side.
Midnight Picnic, by Nick Antosca
I had a feeling that I would be very into this gangling ghost tale but I had no idea that I would still be talking about this book at year’s end, but here we are. This book is great and people are talking about golf now like they know some shit all of a sudden.
Masters of Reality, by John Darnielle
Technically this came out in 2008 but I didn’t read it until this year. When the Mountain Goats lyric and voice man was asked to write a book documenting the process it took for Black Sabbath to create Masters of Reality he turned in a short story, a kind of pubescent Cuckoo’s Nest, were a kid is detained and pulled from the music he felt defined life.
Other books and chaps of note:
How the Broken Lead the Blind, by Matt Bell; The National Virginity Pledge, by Barry Graham; Less Shiny, by Mary Miller; Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr; The Death of Bunny Munro, by Nick Cave; Scorch Atlas, by Blake Butler; Nobody Trusts A Black Magician, by xTx; and Prose. Poems. A Novel, by Jamie Iredell.
Music for 2009:
Crack the Skye, by Mastodon
This Smooth Prog metal album was the first monumental thing to grab onto me this past year, and even with listening to record to the point of beginning a wear on the wax I still return to the album excited, almost panting to it as I get lost in it.
Embryonic, by The Flaming Lips
Every Flaming Lips album has a rushing psychedelic pulse to it where you can almost describe each album by the cascading colors it inspires. Embryonic was something different though, a bold step by old men still laughing and in enjoyment. The colors rush to only be mixed in with stirring static and electronic noise. This record only has three clear-cut songs, the rest are thumpings to rub into the skin and bathe the eyes. This album is sexually pleasing.
The Atlantic Ocean, by Richard Swift
There was a video for this hypo-folk pop album. It had a dancing robot, and nothing but that. It fit. It’s very lovely and I recommend seeing it with people you are tender about.
Mean Everything to Nothing, by Manchester Orchestra; Mind the Drift, by Big Business; Patrol, by Zirconium, Ox/OXEP, by Coalesce; Axe to Fall, by Converge; Dark Night of the Soul, by Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse/David Lynch; and The Great Cessation, by YOB.
Film for 2009:
This is the only film I remember seeing in the enclosed public space of a theater. I’m sure I saw more, I fucking know it, but I don’t remember what movies they were. Doubt I care really because District 9 was all that mattered. I haven’t seen the film with no one else in the room besides me yet. But on opening night part of what made District 9 unforgettable was how the audience, who a well sized number of walked out of mid-film clenching torn paper nubs and cursing their respective gods, reacted.
A film of tension, just growing and swelling and if you paid attention and felt some kind of kinship to the man in sorrow all you wanted was for him to kill humans. When he begins fighting his own race, you know us; the audience erupted in a satisfaction. Hands that had been grappling onto seats had become fist that celebrated in air.
No pesky moral, just an alien story with a thought. Sometimes your own shouldn’t survive.
Matt DeBenedictis had his weight insulted by a homeless man this year. Harsh words were exchanged and Matt dedicated all sinful acts that night to the man. He has work featured in Lamination Colony, The Ampersand Review, and Dogzplot. He blogs HERE and is a contributor HERE.
John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.