Though this season has seen me being pummeled by the various viruses and whatnot that are floating around—not to mention succumbing, for perhaps the first time in my life, to some form of seasonal affective mood disorder—the year, as a whole, has had some bright moments (as Rahsaan Roland Kirk would say). At some point, I’ll post a list of what I enjoyed reading this year. In the meantime, I’ve asked many great writers to send along a list of some of their favorite books, music, films, events, moments, or whatever for 2010. As you’ll find below, these “bests” need not have been released this year. In this installment, check out lists by Scott Garson, Jamie Iredell, Norman Lock, Kevin Sampsell, and Ken Sparling. More to come, soon.
Looking at the films and books I count among my favorite, I am struck by the fabulism, fantasy, anti-naturalism which – largely, all of them – share to one degree or another. (I can say this, too, about the painters I admire most, like Miró, Chagall, and Klee.) Whether these works have influenced my own writings or I turn to them to confirm it, I cannot answer.
38 Favorite Films
(in no particular order)
The Tin Drum – Volker Schlöndorff
Wild Strawberries – Ingmar Bergman
The Magician – Ingmar Bergman
Fanny & Alexander – Ingmar Bergman
The Seventh Seal – Ingmar Bergman
Hour of the Wolf – Ingmar Bergman
Ordet – Carl Th. Dreyer
Vampyr – Carl Th. Dreyer
Life Is Beautiful – Roberto Benigni
Le jardin des plantes – Philippe de Broca
Orpheus – Jean Cocteau
Beauty & the Beast – Jean Cocteau
La Strada – Federico Fellini
8 ½ – Federico Fellini
La Dolce Vita – Federico Fellini
Amarcord – Federico Fellini
A Trip to the Moon – Georges Méliès
Miracle in Milan – Vittorio de Sica
Umberto D – Vittorio de Sica
Cinema Paradiso – Giuseppe Tornatore
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – Pedro Almodóvar
Red Shoes – Michael Powell
Black Orpheus – Marcel Camus
The Drunken Angel – Akira Kurosawa
Dersu Uzala – Akira Kurosawa
Kwaidan – Masaki Kobayashi
Mon Oncle – Jacques Tati
Boudu Saved from Drowning – Jean Renoir
Breathless – Jean-Luc Godard
Exterminating Angel – Luis Buñuel
All the Mornings in the World – Alain Corneau
The Pearl – Emilio Fernández
My Life as a Dog – Lasse Hallström
Macarío – Roberto Gavaldón
Teorema – Pier Paolo Pasolini
Wings of Desire – Wim Wenders
The Dead – John Huston
The Burmese Harp – Kon Ichikawa
Norman Lock’s most recent books are the novels Shadowplay (Ellipsis Press) and Grim Tales (Mud Luscious Press). A recipient of The Paris Review’s Aga Kahn Prize, Norman was included among this year’s “20 Writers to Watch” according to American independent literary presses.
1. Performance of Bach’s Partita 3 by violin guy in subway at Bloor and Yonge in Toronto in early December
2. Beauty and the Beast live at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts
3. Klezmer according player between sets by jazz trio at Reba’s Cafe in Toronto in early December
4. Noah Sherman Trio at Gate 403 in Toronto in September
5. Geoff Young at the Emmett Ray in Toronto in October
6. Men of Pedlar Press reading at Sitka Books in Vancouver
7. Sheila Heti reading for Ottawa Author’s Festival
8. Mike Moreno at Bar Next Door in NYC
9. Jean Michel Pilc playing a piano loft in some small town in New Jersey
10. Maylee Todd live in concert at North York Central Library in Toronto in November
Favourite places I was at during 2010:
1. Stanley Park in Vancouver
2. Smalls in NYC
3. Paula Bomer’s house in Brooklyn
4. The Syvia in Vancouver
5. Whale Watcher’s B&B in Newfoundland
6. Beth Follett and Stan Dragland’s house in Newfoundland
7. My backyard in the summer with Voovie and Moge
Favourite reads in 2010:
1. New York Tyrant
2. James Salter
3. more James Salter
4. poem by Fan Wu submitted to (but not accepted by) YOUNG VOICES, Toronto Public Library’s magazine of teen writing
5. Kim Chinquee novel excerpt forthcoming in BROKEN PENCIL magazine in 2011
6. WOLF by Erik Wahlstrom, in elimae
7. Thomas Luckie III story forthcoming in BROKEN PENCIL magazine in 2011
8. Everything by Eric Beeny
9. Unpublished manuscript by Greg Gerke
10. Unpublished manuscript by Edeet Ravel
Ken Sparling has a new novel coming out with Pedlar Press in spring 2011. He has work forthcoming in New York Tyrant. You can find out a bit more about him at www.stinkypoobutt.com
This is not necessarily in order but here’s what happened in 2010:
Russia: I was there over New Years, Snovum Godum! We were with my wife’s friend’s family where they force fed me cognac and salads, the primary ingredients of which were mayonnaise and cod. Every five minutes someone gave a ten minute-long, effusive toast to a family member excaliming how crappy their life would be without said member. Ded Moroz showed up for the little girl and gave her a creepy electronic pony that she adored.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, I’ll only read Harry Potter in Spanish; Odnostishiya by Olga Arefyeva; In the Devil’s Territory by Kyle Minor; Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball; A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell
Not Russia: It was fucking -28 Celsius (or -18 Fahrenheit, or 245 Kelvin) in Yekaterinburg, so our return to Atlanta was balmy.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Baby Leg by Brian Evenson; 50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know by Joanne Baker. Quotes Stein when talking about absolute zero: “There’s no there there”; Easter Rabbit by Joseph Young; A Jello Horse by Matthew Simmons; Words by Andy Devine; Mlkng Sckls by Justin Sirois
Crazy reading in Reno where my drunk ex-gf showed up w/ drunk and intellectually-challenged, said-he-was-a-mathematician-current boyfriend, and took five minutes during question time to ask if there was some kind of contemporary issue that I would write about (I think she was thinking like social or political or something). Blake had to turn and face the wall to keep from laughing while I talked to woman buying my book, then signed it, and still had time to turn back to end of “question” and say, “Plastic.”
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Scape by Joshua Harmon; Warsaw Bikini by Sandra Simonds
To Baltimore for readings and skiing with Adam Robinson.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney by Christopher Higgs; Modern History by Christopher Buckley; Pigafetta is My Wife by Joe Hall; Pink and Hot Pink Habitat by Natalie Lyalin; Pee on Water by Rachel B. Glaser
And reading with Molly Gaudry up the east coast, too was fun.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Wolf Parts by Matt Bell; Firework by Eugene Martin; The Best of (What’s Left of) Heaven by Mairead Byrne
Did not get arrested in Denver, otherwise Denver is definitely not part of this list of favs. Denver fucking blows my balls.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Adam Robison and Other Poems by Adam Robinson; When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother by Melissa Broder
My summer classes were some of the best I’ve ever taught. I kicked out all the bullshit students (helps when class is at 7 AM) and those who stayed were serious, and we had a lot of fun.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: The Wonderfull Yeare by Nate Pritts
Kevin and his fiance came to Atlanta to read and we sat up one night in my apartment while I drank and everyone else ate Taco Bell and Krispy Kreme.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough by Mike Young;
The rest of the summer was uneventful except for solar anus readings and writing. so that was awesome, because I didn’t want to do shit.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Relation of the Voyage of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, ed. by Herbert Eugene Bolton; Sir Francis Drake on the California Coast, ed. Henry S. Burage; Diary of Sebastian Vizcaino 1602-1603, ed. by Herbert Eugene Bolton; Life and Apostolic Labors of the Venerable Father Junipero Serra by Francisco Palou; Converting California by James A. Sandos; The Journals of Jean Francois de la Perouse
Went to artists’ colony to work for two weeks, and it was kinda weird, ’cause I don’t really have any trouble getting work done when I’m at home, and it took me out of my regular rhythm and I had a panic attack. By the second week I was starting to get used to it, right as I was ready to come home. But anyway got 15 K words of new book drafted.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne; and Soul Bus Poems by Jim Goar
Back home my computer crashed so I continued to write new book all longhand. computer crashing no fav, but going back to longhand felt good.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: A Frolic of His Own by William Gaddis
Around Halloween this buddy from Nevada came out and he’s crazy so we had a good time, even though he smokes a cigarette every fifteen minutes and takes twenty minutes to smoke a single cigarette. My wife put up with him. He thus defies all laws of physics. We went to Uncle Shuck’s pumpkin patch and corn maze, among my fav’s of
fall things to do.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
Fall was late and stayed long and it’s my favorite season so it was good times jogging through Atlanta while the trees kept burning. Stayed warm until recently and now my toes are about to fall off.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: How They Were Found by Matt Bell
Thanksgiving in Cape May was good and I brined a big turkey and made cranberry sauce and Sarah made sweet potato biscuits. My father-in-law’s football team won, so no one was sad.
Stuff I liked that I read during this time: Don Quixote
I’m still reading that and it’s still cold here.
1. Song of the year: “Fever Dreaming,” No Age.
2. Best vsf not published online: a group prize: the writers of UNSAID 5.
3. Best secret giving of award to self (see #2).
4. Best outfit: Lady Gaga’s meat dress, worn at the ’10 MTV VMAs (duh).
5. Most welcome waning of a culinary fad: Chipotle.
6. Least advisable one-liner: “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” LeBron James.
7. Least justifiable hold on headlines: the 2010 Minnesota Vikings.
8. Best stick-in-your-head line from a ’10 fiction: “Self is a mutable currency,” Miranda Mellis (from “Misapprehensions: A Mobile in Ten Parts,” in Conjunctions 54).
9. Best act of literary conjuring: Campbell McGrath, for the Twin Cities in the ’80s, as found in his poem, “Minneapolis” (from /nor 8)
10. Best obscure anniversary: 35th of the Patti Smith’s “Hey Joe” from Horses (probably the best cover of a cover ever).
11. Most encouraging statistic: number of facebook friends holds constant—as the number of people adding me is about equal to the sum total of those dropping me and those who have sense enough to ditch entirely.
12. Writer of the year: Laura Ellen Scott, whom I will now supply a three-word blurb for: girl brings it.
Scott Garson edits Wigleaf.
Best books: I read a great mix of stuff this past year. From contemporary favorites like Sam Lipsyte and his awesome novel The Ask to old classics like Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road. There were many stellar small press releases such as wild poetry collections by Evelyn Hampton, Emily Kendal Frey, and Jennifer L. Knox, but the poems that knocked me out most were in Ben Mirov’s Ghost Machine. It just seemed like the perfect book for me to read at the time–it was playful but accessible, melancholy but hilarious, and magically poetic in all the right spots. This was the year I also discovered a new best friend: Leonard Michaels. I started with The Men’s Club, which was my favorite novel that I read this year, and then I followed that up with Sylvia, the novel about his first wife’s suicide, and now I’m reading Time Out of Mind, a book of writings from his diaries. Every time I meet other Leonard Michaels fans, they almost weep with excitement to talk to someone else about his work. He’s that special. I can’t wait to read his other books.
Best of other stuff: I don’t get to see live music as much as I like but the best concert I went to this year was probably the great Superchunk reunion show at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland. It was one of those nights I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else in the world. My favorite CDs of the year were The National’s High Violet. Favorite new TV discovery is Breaking Bad, a meth drama fueled by great performances, smart writing, and kick-ass directing. It was kind of a shitty year for movies but my favorite was probably Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, which I thought was visually fantastic and very funny. My favorite cities visited on my book tour were Boston, L.A., and Denver, because they surprised me. My favorite places on the southern road trip I took with my lady this summer were Houston (shout out to Gene Morgan and Ryan Call!) and Oxford, Mississippi (shout out to the folks at Square Books, Big Bad Breakfast, Tom Franklin, and Beth Ann Fennelly). Bestest greatest moment of 2010 and maybe forever: Reading to a packed house at Powell’s in February and then proposing to my girlfriend at the end and then celebrating with a ton of friends at the bar across the street.