Best of 2011, Part 4

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Check out lists from Nick Antosca, j/j hastain, Lincoln Michel, and William Walsh. Here are parts one, two, and three.

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Nick Antosca

Here are some things I admired in 2011:

Sleeping Beauty: Australian novelist Julia Leigh’s directorial debut, starring Emily Browning as a college student who gets paid to take a sleeping pill and let men take liberties with her unconscious body, is as beautiful and discomfiting a film as I’ve ever seen.  My favorite film of the year.  Mesmerizing, haunting, perfect.

Margin Call: I used to work at a financial firm.  In recruiting, not one of the get-rich jobs, but I was there in the fall of 2008, when everything came crashing down (my firm’s assets declined by $20 billion).  JC Chandor’s first film feels authentic.  It is a more gripping thriller than anything where badges get flashed and bodies get buried (although, actually, one body does get buried in Margin Call), and it is also a controlled character drama of the highest order, on par with Glengarry Glen Ross or Quiz Show.

You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik: Now-controversial because it’s allegedly based on truth (the author apparently really did, as one of the three narrators does, have an affair with, and impregnate, one of his 17 year old students), Alexander Maksik’s first novel is an unexpectedly profound, deeply engrossing, and beautifully written novel about ethics, literature, courage, and sex.  The prose recalls James Salter and nuance of character recalls Francine Prose.  Buy it, read it.

Last of the Live Nude Girls by Sheila McClear: A memoir of the author’s time spent working in peep shows in Times Square.  One thing it is not is titillating.  It’s funny, sad, blunt, and familiar.  If you lived in New York during the latter half of the last decade, you will probably find yourself nodding in recognition as you read this book.  McClear is a terrific writer.

Nick Antosca is the author of two novels: Fires (2006, Impetus Press) and Midnight Picnic (2009, Word Riot Press).  His novella The Obese comes out in 2012 from Lazy Fascist. His blog is HERE.

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j/j hastain

Some Stimulations From 2011

Some books, music, movies and meta-rants about how they pricked:

Books:

The ferality of Jenny Boully’s latest book not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them–symbolic engagement and torque of some of my own childhood mythos.

Melissa Buzzeo’s books Face, What Began Us– questions about lacunae, form, crux and climax. Re what the shapes of page by feeling and as aesthetic are and can mean. Re the performativity of thirds or nexts. What are the ethics of getting to a there from a here? Proceeding from a here by hearing?

Some books re their violences (JA Tyler (A Shiny Unused Heart), Selah Saterstrom (Meat and Spirit Plan), some fellow dusiers’ (I loved Jared Hayes’ DUSIE http://www.dusie.org/jhayes.html).

Simone Weil-for content, emotio-spiritual kinship and philosophy more than praxis.

Elizabeth Robinson’s books generally-re the integration of the quotidian into the rhythmically moving (and always surpassing of borders) alchemical.

Bhanu Kapil’s Schizophrene-Bhanu’s usual and brilliant aphotic, poetic, edge.  Embodied haunts.

Akilah Oliver’s A Toast in the House of Friends-for heartbreak of content of book and timing of book.

Brenda Iijima ‘s Glossematics, Thus -“the myriad global, political, biological, and economic resonances of any local event” (Jamie Townsend).

Tc Tolbert’s territories of folding-the slow approach to the deep and beveling body. To space and text as honor.

Trace Peterson’s Since I Moved In– content that disquiets and destabilizes. For mirror.

Music

Duke Ellington’s Sacred Songs

Jeongseon Arirang” sung by Kim Young-im (from film: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring)-OMG–your body your bridge!

Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli Time to Say Goodbye-so much like fucking a content-oriented matrix.

Films

Lars von Trier’s Melancholia-for those of us who know the feeling of our appendages having become roots to ulteriors. How can we stay? What happens to our surroundings and social/kinship contexts if we stay? Is staying core? Also considers agencies re leaving?

Stephen Elliot’s The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Itch– both of these are always for descants of the kinships. For feeling the ephemeral lineages.

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Lincoln Michel

Looking back on my 2011 art and entertainment consumption, the first thing I notice is that I read very few books published this year and watched virtually no new movies at all. I didn’t listen to all that many 2011 albums either. I am embracing my change into a crotchety old man. All new music is bleepy bloop Star Trek disco nonsense, all new films are watered-down remakes ruining my childhood, all new books are… well I still like a lot of new books, but I had a harder time keeping up with them this year. I started a lot of great books that I haven’t finished yet. So, that said:

Best 2011 novel: TBA (I’ll have to get back to you on this one.)

Best new-to-me novel: tie between Hunger by Knut Hamsun and Jakob Von Gunten by Robert Walser

Best 2011 story collection: The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo

Best new-to-me story collection: Taking Care by Joy Williams

Best 2011 comic: Wilson by Daniel Clowes

Best new-to-me comic: Weathercraft by Jim Woodring

Best 2011 TV: Breaking Bad season 4

Best new-to-me TV: early 1930s Betty Boop cartoons.

Best 2011 movie: TBA

Best new-to-me movie: Rumble Fish

Best 2011 hip-hop album: The Book of David by DJ Quik

Best new-to-me hip-hop: Diplo Presents Free Gucci mixtape

Best 2011 rock/pop/indie/whatever: NewVillager by NewVillager

Best new-to-me rock/pop/indie/whatever: tie The Sensual World by Kate Bush and Love vs Money by The-Dream

Lincoln Michel is around. You can find him online at lincolnmichel.com.

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William Walsh

Bee-Loud Glade  by Steve Himmer
A high-concept novel about a modern-day decorative hermit. It is also a novel about this American age of diminished expectations. Should become a major motion picture within the next three years starring Jonah Hill.

Fog Gorgeous Stag by Sean Lovelace
Filing this one under nonfiction. I know that everything in this book happened. It’s like a few dozen episodes of a reality show. Lovelace reduces all human thought and action into a plate of nachos, and says, Enjoy.

Townie by Andre Dubus III
The best parts of this memoir are the scenes with Dubus’s dad, the great short story writer Andre Dubus. And there’s a wonderful passage of Andre III and his father visiting with Thomas Williams, one of my old writing teachers at UNH. Overall, the central, repetitive action of Dubus as a street-fighting man would have read better as a novel. Like a lot of contemporary memoirs, Townie would have benefitted greatly from fictional compression.

Beauport by Kate Colby
What a concise poet. Every image, every idea is delivered perfectly.

Cut Through the Bone by Ethel Rohan
Acute stories, unsentimental but emotional writing.

The Weather Stations by Ryan Call
These stories do for the weather what Pontius Pilate did for the stations of the cross.

House of Holes by Nicholson Baker
It’s even pervier than The Fermata. The writing is just so good, and it seems effortless. Baker has simplified his sentences significantly over the years.

The Curfew by Jesse Ball
I haven’t read this yet, but I hope to by the end of 2011. If it is only half as good as Samedi the Deafness and The Way Through Doors then it will be brilliant.

You Can Make Him Like You by Ben Tanzer
This novel reads like a sitcom. It’s a litcom about you an your friends. A fun, quick read.

Stories V! by Scott McClanahan
Authentic.

Four for a Quarter by Michael Martone
Probably Martone’s fourth best book, behind, in order, Michael Martone, Seeing Eye, and Unconventions (his craft book).

William Walsh is the author of Ampersand, Mass., just out from Keyhole Press. His other books include Pathologies, Questionstruck, and Without Wax. His stories and derived texts have appeared in journals such as Annalemma, Quick Fiction, New York Tyrant, Caketrain, Juked, Lit, Quarterly West, and elsewhere.

6 thoughts on “Best of 2011, Part 4

  1. Thanks for this, BIG OTHER, as ever pitching a big tent. But W Walsh, I can’t agree about M Martone. I find FOUR FOR A QUARTER his greatest accomplishment: his most rigorous & full of feeling, while again showing off, in the best sense, his verbal felicities & cornpone imagination.

  2. Hey Bill, I need to ditto Ethel, what a wonderful surprise, and so very cool to be included on such a terrific list. That said, I am going to stop gushing now and go find a copy of Cut Through the Bone. And Townie, sort of dieing to read that now.

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