Monday, January 04, 2016

2015 Prizes

It is all too hard not being sent review copies of stuff or having the time and space to keep up with popular culture. It means that when I look back to decide what was the best of last year I usually discover that I spent a lot of the time catching up with previous years.

I enjoyed reading The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth but it was first published in 2013. Sub-titled 'How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase' it was a list, chapter by chapter, of rhetorical devices and how to employ them properly.

Matthew Engel's Engel's England is fun and informative as it describes England county by county; as is David Byrne's How Music Works - did you know orchestras developed so that the music's volume drowned the crowd? Neither was published in 2015 and both remain unfinished.

My favourite non-fiction work of 2015 was Jonathan Sacks' Not in God's Name which I reviewed here. The former Chief Rabbi examines the common heritage of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Dave Eggers' novel The Circle imagined life when an all-seeing internet giant took over everyone's provision and promoted complete transparency. Brilliant, but that too was published in 2013.

Tom Wolfe's Back to Blood was an epic tome which caused me the usual problems of a 700 page hardback in bed last thing at night. But I loved it. No-one writes in such bold as he. No-one makes a character crash and burn like he. No-one does redemption quite as he does. 2012 though. Wish I could keep up.

Martin Amis' Lionel Asbo was a good read. 2012. I only finished two novels actually published in 2015 and the better of the two was Chris Brookmyre's dark crime caper Dead Girl Walking. Brookmyre writes black comedies with witty observation about the state of the world as Christopher and more conventional crime stuff as Chris. This one was about a missing pop star and included some well-observed back-stage stuff about tours and inter-band jealousies.

Found some good albums this year including Blur's The Magic Whip, Calexico's Edge of the Sun and Peace's Happy People. Hate giving the award to the same band two years running so although Jaga Jazzist's Starfire deserves to win I think Everything Everything's Get to Heaven just shades it.

Star Wars V11 was a good romp and The Theory of Everything poignant. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation passed the time, as did Spectre but The Imitation Game was my film of the year.

No comments: