Tops in ’11…
January 21, 2012 § 25 Comments
Because it’s still January, and also because I told Arti that I would do it(!), herein a quick reflective write up on (only certain) categories of “tops in 2011.” Of course this is entirely subjective and duly note that some of “things” mentioned herein may not have occurred/premiered/published within 2011 after all. I tend to arrive late at “what’s hot” selections yearly.
Top Books (a very subjective view)…
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson ….I, too, am surprised to see this book at the top of my list. But there are two (subjective) reasons: 1) He writes about the Adirondack Trail, a great part of which includes my old stomping ground on the East Coast; and 2) he made me laugh out loud. And furthermore, it’s a book I wouldn’t normally pick up but it was a gift and it turned out to be a perfect gift.
The Help – Kathryn Stockett… and I don’t usually fall for “mass” bestsellers but there you go, I loved this book (as mentioned several times).
A Roomful of Hovings and The Pines – John McPhee…just happened to discover McPhee’s writing. The way he can write about the length of grass on a tennis court or what Pine natives think of outsiders will stop you in your tracks and have you reading every detail. He’s an essayist, a storyteller, a writer who puts a variety of things under a writer’s microscope and just goes and you can’t help but follow.
Truth is, when I look at the list of books I read last year, I am pressed to tell you that most were read for sheer entertainment, like page turners, easy stuff OR books on art and journaling!
PS And I did love Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I really liked the Major. He seemed to have the right moves at the right time. And all was well.
The New Yorker – still holding its (personal) top position on my magazine list but that’s because of its local, its pace, its ads, its embrace of cartoons and fiction along with Talk of the Town. The magazine, its covers, its staff are all stories in themselves.
Fast Company – this one rose quickly to the top of my list because it scratches a “professional reading” itch but moves and jumps and flashes around so that I don’t get bored with any pedantic pages.
GRANTA – love it. Introduces me to new authors. Makes me read stuff I normally wouldn’t. And the photo section is full of stories in itself.
VOGUE – ah, my beloved VOGUE. Still hangs in there but is slipping. It’s look/layout is heavy-footed; some photo stories are annoying rather than breathtaking and overall, other than some (Euro) fashion pages, it’s not taking any chances with its articles or photos. ELLE magazine may surpass the big V in terms of presentation. Still, thank goodness Grace Coddington is still chez VOGUE or the wind would definitely be out of the sails on this great old schooner.
Poets&Writers – This one is for writers who don’t need to be told every issue how to do something. This one goes deep, is thought provoking with its essays on “Why we write,” its updates on the lit mag world, its spotlight on authors you might have heard of but then again, ah, maybe not and its complete section on contests and awards. This magazine feels good; the paper is excellent, the layout is fresh and readable with decent visuals/graphics. I carry this one around for a couple weeks before I even start to read it. And then I save them all, dogeared and annotated.
The Descendants – Absolutely not a comedy though certain previews might lead you to think so and yet it was not without its comic moments, just as life would have it. I was surprised in after dicussion of the film how much I did really like it after all. We love to look at families and see what they’re doing, how they’re doing and how they interact. Clooney was good and quite good at knowing when to be silent in this film; the elder daughter had uncanny strength while her younger sister showed the certain delightful guilelessness. All due to the script. Well written, I say. And the setting, Hawaii, was a wonderful treat though not intrusive. (It could have been). Yes, you’ll get into money and greed and the big machine and the play of family politics and although you’ll guess the end, you will be satisfied for having been there for it and will be glad you met this little family.
Midnight in Paris – Nope, did NOT like this film at first. Thought at first glance it was kitschy. Then, it grew on me. After all, it throws every literary and artistic character from the Lost Gen (expats) at you and then unravels further back and you guess who’s who before they do some clicheed identifier (Hemingway wanting to fight, Dali being weird, weird, weird, etc) but I liked it after all. And will seek to watch it again. Thank goodness Woody Allen believes in a little magic; we need it. His version, a bit lighter than time travel (as in the Time Traveler’s Wife) is fun and we have some laughs while witnessing the truth of the movie: we all are prone to believe that the century/time period prior to our own was “better.” Watch it and enjoy. This one is worth owning, to play in the background during a party or even while you’re dusting and vacuuming.
The Help – I read the book first. Thankfully. I’m sure I’d think otherwise of the film if I hadn’t. But I was terribly judgmental as I watched it unfold on the screen before me, comparing it unwittingly to the book all along the way. Still I enjoyed it. I might have cast it differently, especially Skeeter’s part (Emma Stone), but they did it “right” after all, they did it correctly and they did a good job. I cried where I cried in the book (no, I’m not telling you where or why) and I laughed where the book also made me laugh. The audience in the theater that night was participatory, too, which is always fun – when there’s laughter or clapping and then a collective sigh at the end. The biggest difference between the screen and the page for this one? The movie ended and we left whereas when the book ended, I didn’t to leave/stop reading. The movie was thin; the book was not.
Cowboys and Aliens – omg, this movie was awful I loved it. So silly, such a mixture of excellent talent (Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig) and sci fi and westerns!!!!!! It derives from a graphic novel, if that helps understand its mongrel self. I loved it. Ridiculous, it was. And corny. But Ford and Craig saved it and yes, cowboys have a certain appeal. No one sits a horse better. Anyway, this was pure entertainment (with a touch of “impatience” because everyone works together against the aliens of course which is the way it should be but it’s so darn in-your-face.) Tra lala. This one still wins anyway: horses, dogs and children survive blissfully and our heroes come through for us.
Harry Potter 7/8
Pirates of the Carribean Part #4
Top Events – not “global” events (there would be so many)
Game #6, World Series
Game #7, World Series, and was there!
Roger Daltry presenting “Tommy” at the Peabody Opera House, STL
The wedding of Will and Kate
New Year’s Eve in NYC
New Year’s Eve in Nashville (both via TV; glad for the latter since it’s in our time zone – at last, a ball (or guitar) that drops according to our central time zone.)
Top food trends
Seaside cheddar cheese at Whole Food
Hmmm….so many more categories could be contrived here but that’s for another time.
Care to share your favorite (recent) book-of-the-moment with me? I’m all ears!!!!!!!!!!!!!