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My lists don’t make any real sense. I don’t have ten of everything. I don’t even have one of some things.

Best Movies:

No Country For Old Men
Eastern Promises
The Host

Best Books:

Then We Came to the End

(I’ll be honest here, I didn’t read any other new books this year)

Best Albums:

-Once - Soundtrack
-In Rainbows - Radiohead
-Boxer - The National
-Raising Sand - Robert Plant & Alison Kraus
-Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
-Nothing Left to Lose - Mat Kearney (I’ll remain unapologetic on this)
-Dwight Sings Buck - Dwight Yoakum

Best Albums on other people’s lists that I tried to like, but really couldn’t stand:

-Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
-Ga ga ga, etc. - Spoon
-Anything with Bruce Springsteen on it

Best Albums on other people’s lists that have one or two good songs on them, but aren’t worth the entire album:

-We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Modest Mouse
-Icky Thump - White Stripes

Best TV Shows:

-The Office
-The Sopranos

That’s all I got.

- 12/29/2007 9:26:42 AM | link

If you have tears, prepare to shed them

Christopher Hitchens writes in Vanity Fair article of a young man who was in no small way inspired to enlist in the Iraq War by Hitchens’ own articles on the subject.

Whatever your stance on the war (and, to be honest, the word "stance" probably shouldn’t ever be used again by anyone who hasn’t been there) or on Hitchens, the article is excruciatingly moving beyond belief.


At the first chance I got, I invited his family for lunch in California. We ended up spending the entire day together. As soon as they arrived, I knew I had been wrong to be so nervous. They looked too good to be true: like a poster for the American way. John Daily is an aerospace project manager, and his wife, Linda, is an audiologist. Their older daughter, Christine, eagerly awaiting her wedding, is a high-school biology teacher, and the younger sister, Nicole, is in high school. Their son Eric is a bright junior at Berkeley with a very winning and ironic grin. And there was Mark’s widow, an agonizingly beautiful girl named Snejana ("Janet") Hristova, the daughter of political refugees from Bulgaria. Her first name can mean "snowflake," and this was his name for her in the letters of fierce tenderness that he sent her from Iraq. These, with your permission, I will not share, except this:

One thing I have learned about myself since I’ve been out here is that everything I professed to you about what I want for the world and what I am willing to do to achieve it was true. Ö

My desire to "save the world" is really just an extension of trying to make a world fit for you.

If that is all she has left, I hope you will agree that it isn’t nothing.

- 12/23/2007 2:28:35 PM | link

How do you say "Merii Kurisumasu?"

- 12/18/2007 9:38:29 PM | link

A Bright and Shining Lie (Truth)

Via David Wolfe:

Yet another (God help me, I cannot resist these) takedown of a popular literary icon from the quasi-anonymous takedown artist, B.R. Myers (he of A Readerís Manifesto fame). I tend to sympathize with the contrarian aspects to Myers world view (and yet, and yet).

I do have a dog in this fight for all the obvious reasons...

1. I am a (somewhat broken) writer and I hate critics. Especially those who canít do.

2. I did meet Denis Johnson and he was a passionate, brilliant person insofar as hanging out with somebody at a bar can reveal these qualities. Other people said nice things about him, as well.

Of course, B.R. Myers could refute both these points more eloquently than me.

#1: Who cares? Critics donít exist to give the artist rope. They exist to hang the artist with his rope. And do it in a way that reflects the (captital T) Truth.

#2: Who cares? Your father doesnít write so well, either. Neither does your best friend. Neither do most writers-in-residence.

But writing doesnít always exist to name the thing in itself and this is perhaps where Myers and I part ways. Sometimes it exists to elevate the thing. Or to illuminate the thing. Or to change the thing. Sometimes itís bright and shining and a lie that tells the truth.

Huge caveat: I haven’t read the book. Feel to comment if you have, oh lurkers that ye are!

- 12/18/2007 8:37:13 PM | link


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