Well, how was your Christmas, then?
Mine has been reasonable – my uncle came over from Venezuela to visit, and I got some reasonable presents (not least ‘cos it was, er, me who chose them), including the Strokes’ latest album, the book of Salam Pax’s Baghdad Blog, in fact lots of books, and this is despite the fact I haven’t read all the books I bought in this year’s January sales. Mum got me some clothes and the Premium Bonds people gave me a £50 cheque, which was nice of them.
Since it’s the end of the year and everyone else does them, why not one of those retrospective ‘Best Of 2003′ lists? Sorry, but Christmas has meant a dearth of decent memes, and I’m stuck on a slow connection anyway.
I’ll start with books, since I have loads of the sods on my desk now. The longest book I read (taking me nearly an entire month) was Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver – a ripping yarn (and quite educational to boot), but it had no real verve or pizzazz or cunning twists like his previous books – I suspect this is thanks to it being part 1 of a trilogy.
So no prizes there. The best-written book I read this year was probably Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist: the words sparked off the page and I just couldn’t put it down, although I was a little bit disappointed with the ending.
Behind that came two closely related works, William Boyd’s Any Human Heart, which was the most emotionally engaging of all the books I read, and Yann Martel’s Life Of Pi, which has an ingenious plot which is beautifully executed and told. Actually, Life Of Pi might have to take the award instead. I dunno. Pick any of those three if you want a good read.
Apart from that I haven’t read too many other books worth mentoning. From the political front, Polly Toynbee’s Hard Work was a very well-written read, I was initially sceptical at a middle-class Blairite writing on poverty but she does it very well. I’ve got through a few of those Very Short Introduction books, and they’re quite good if you know nothing about a subject and want to feel a bit brainier. I’d also recommend the funny, if not particularly deep Jennifer Government by Max Barry.
I tried starting Gravity’s Rainbow but it’s just too damn hard to read – Thomas Pynchon is a cool writer, maybe, but I’m too thick to read his stuff.
Coming up on this blog – a review of the year’s CDs and films. Actually I might have to scrap the films one, I only saw four all year, and two of them were the Matrix sequels, and they were shite. So that leaves Kill Bill and Phone Booth, and I’ll probably nominate Kill Bill as the better one. But I still have to sum up CDs of the year – expect a long Hornbyesque blog entry on that soon…
Oh, and one on telly too. Although that will just be me gabbing on about how great 24 is…