Saturday, December 31, 2005

go ought six!

There were so many end-of-the-year lists out there that it all begins to blur. Here are a few that caught my eye...

said the gramophone's 22 Favorite Songs of 2005

1. Robyn - Be Mine!
So what is this song? Besides a rainshower, a sunshower? What is it, besides a chance to get rainsoaked on the street and then to walk into the park? In the park everything will be too green, with flowercolour diluted by the rain and by tears. But it'll be wide and open, with lawns and strips of asphalt for you to run along, with soil and sky and space for your whipping feelings. What is it besides that? It's astonishing and complicated emotions - it's the triumph of acknowledging your own sorrow, an affirmation of sure feeling. In that way it's Dylanesque, Joyce-like: it's subtle and messily real, and Robyn makes it feel so easy to realise. And what else? What else is this song? It's a pop song - yes, for dancing and cheering, with zips and pows, with cellos that stab and whirl til the park's right here in the club, in your room, and there's space for feeling everywhere.

New York Magazine
's Cultural Elite 2005 This Year's Best

Best Depressing Novel
‘Veronica,’ by Mary Gaitskill. Happy endings may be de rigueur in the movies, but for literature’s high practitioners, grief is usually the way to go. This year, among the new books from Nobel winners alone, protagonists included a very lonely old man (Márquez), an amputee photographer (Coetzee), and a cancer patient (Gordimer). But Gaitskill’s Alison, an ex-model dying of hepatitis C, has more to offer than contemplations of mortality. The mistress of human loss and longing, Gaitskill puts Alison on a hard road to redemption that’s as beautiful as it is painful to watch.

Best Feud
Ben Marcus versus Jonathan Franzen
Like all classic literary beefs, this was a tempest in a teapot, in a year with no shortage of them. (See also n+1’s dismissal of McSweeney’s.) But Marcus’s attack in Harper’s on Franzen’s critique of obscure novelists at least brings us back to a central literary question: What should writers and readers expect from each other?

Best Blurb
Jonathan Ames, for Periel Aschenbrand’s The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own. “Ribald, outrageous, gutter-mouthed, hilarious—a startling new voice in American letters. Watch out Portnoy, watch out Caulfield, watch out Bukowski, watch out Candace Bushnell. Hell, everybody, real or imagined, just watch out! Because here comes Periel Aschenbrand!”

Underrated Writers from The Syntax of Things

"Blaise Cendrars changed the course of modern literature/poetry; it's just that not that many people know this. Read him, read him, read him and see. A writer with a vast imagination, just don't believe everything he tells you."

"Michelle Huneven is a food writer for the LA Weekly who has written two novels. Jamesland, her most recent, is part mystery part character exploration. It's not a murder-mystery, but more a mystery of origins and faith that her characters have to unravel. The book is also a great look at the vast part of LA that is only peripherally affected by Hollywood, and she also, of course, finds room for some luscious descriptions of food."

100 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Year from BBC News

32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.

59. Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.

73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.

78. One in 18 people has a third nipple.

81. George Bernard Shaw named his shed after the UK capital so that when visitors called they could be told he was away in London.

94. Bill Gates does not have an iPod.

Jessa Crispin (Bookslut): What Your End-of-the-Year List Says About You

If you share more than ten books on the New York Times Notable Books of the Year list . . .

. . . then you, too, have been bought out by corporate interests. With almost no books from small presses, only a handful of books by women, a whole lot of books by their own writers, and almost every single book published by one division of Random House or another, the New York Times Notable Books of the Year is quite possibly the most predictable best-of list put out every year.

You Ain't No Picasso's 13 Days of Mixmas

Okay guys, I'm doing something a little special for the Christmas season. I've asked twelve people I respect musically to compile small mixes of five songs max. The catch is that all the tracks have to be united by some theme of their chosing. Some of these are people who I think have great taste in music (such is the case with the first subject), but the vast majority are musicians that you most likely enjoy. It's been interesting to me to get results back both as a blogger, but also as a fan. Some of these bands have really come up with some great themes and wonderful mixes. Hopefully you guys will enjoy reading these as much as I've enjoyed putting it together.'s The Best Links 2005

If lists are your thing, rounds up more than you can probably handle.

Happy New Year all!