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My Top 5 Books of 2014

It’s about that time again, isn’t it? We’re all just about ready to shrug into an awkwardly fitting new year, and all of the LISTICLES are flowering. Here then are my top 5 reads of this past year; note, these aren’t necessarily books that came out this year.

1) The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

2) The Martian, by Andy Weir

3) The Peripheral, by William Gibson

4) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami

5) Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Honorable Mentions: In the Dust of This Planet, by Eugene Thacker, and Gun Machine by Warren Ellis

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Misc. Updates

Her — 5
The Counselor — 4
House of Cards (season 2) — 5
Californication (seasons 1-5) — 5
Shameless (season 1) — 5
Metallica: Through the Never — 4

I ended up liking The Counselor a lot more than I thought I would after seeing a pretty staggering amount of negative criticism; the dialogue is definitely strange / stands out as being very ‘literary’, but what’s not to love about that? A lot of critics are accusing it of being ‘pretentious’ which is always a strange thing to say about movies that are at least trying to reach into a deeper / stranger ecosystem than the average Hollywood flick. The aesthetics were gorgeous.

‘Her’ was also beyond gorgeous, offering a very crisp approach to visuals and setting in regards to a futuristic Los Angeles that leans much more heavily toward what I guess we could label  ‘speculative fiction’ than ‘science’.  Manages with Jonze’s deft touch to remain  lonely and minimalistic despite the overwhelming technological foliage that’s the entire point really of the film. Reminded me of ‘Lost in Translation’, that way.

House of Cards season 2 was as addicting and perfect as season 1; it’s a show that never lets the tension go slack even for a moment, something that’s incredibly hard to do well. On the subject of criticism I don’t understand, it’s been getting a solid amount of flack from admirably wonkish political types for being ‘unrealistic’. Well, it’s fiction, of course it is. People enjoy it as a politically-framed drama, and most folks don’t want to binge on 12 hours of CSPAN for a reason.

Book-related updates will be a bit slow for me, I’m working my way through Donna Tartt’s new novel ‘The Goldfinch’, which is fantastic so far but is both lengthy and a dense-ish read, so it’ll be a bit before I finish it. I’ve also been trying to set more time aside to work on both poems and the straggling beginnings of a novel I cranked out a couple years ago. There are a couple of poetry chapbook contests ending this month that I’d like to give a respectable try at, so I’m trying to read a little less each day in general, as whatever I’m reading can (for better or worse) influence how and what I’m writing. 

Tomorrow it’s going to be 60 degrees here in Indiana, the land that winter won’t leave the fuck alone. One can almost believe we’re all going to live to see beaches and campfires again before we die.