Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Good Year

Let's talk about some things that were good this past year.

1) My favorite song of the year was "Promiscuous" by Nelly Furtado. It gives me a rush every time I hear it--get prickilty and cold all over then my cheeks flush and I get embarassed. Timbaland had a great year--single handly clogging the airwaves with songs worth listening to--and this was the best kitty in the litter. I can't quite explain what moves me so much about this track--which is of course how it should be. If I could describe it in total then it would be a pretty weak song becuase I am pretty inarticulate. It seems to me that the track, musically, is a perfect example of what Timbaland does best--creating synth-pop that sounds warm and inviting rather than cold and removed. Or perhaps in its coldness reveals the emotion below the still surface? Is that right? I don't know. Am I wrong to think of the best songs of the Red House Painters when I hear it?

The lyrics really crush me. They are so sorrowful. I can feel the waning youth and loss of hope against my face. I can almost make out a narrative, somewhere here--two people, alone, isolated, trying to fill their lives with other people, but failing, yet they know that the other is out there and if they only could break through the emptiness around them--perhaps they could be happy.

Timb: I be the first to admit it, I’m curious about you, you seem so innocent.

Nell: You wanna get in my world, get lost in it? Boy I’m tired of
running, lets walk for a minute
It is that line "I'm tired of running, let's walk for a minute"--damn. This song reminds me alot of what I love so much about "Dancing in the Dark." Both present themselves as cool/cold, but have some serious remorse seething below the surface. In "DitD," you can feel Springsteen about to burst through, or hoping/praying that he will explode--perhaps he never will. That's the sorrow of that song--and of "Promiscuous"--the joy of dance and other people perverted into isolation--and below it all, someone who still wants to feel something, anything.

I like that song.
Promiscuous girl, wherever you are I’m all alone
and it's you that I want.
Promiscuous boy, you already know
that I’m all yours--what you
waiting for?
2) The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis, which I read this January, is one of the greatest novels I've ever encountered. It is difficult to describe, but I think it bears the same qualities as Moby-Dick and belongs in that class of American Novel. I have no doubt about this.

It is a novel about community--not just a community of people--but a community of all life--adults, children, the elderly, animals, plants, rocks, God, the Earth, time (each a living entity with feelings and thoughts)--each in their place, each with its life exposed for us to see. I've read very few books as great as this one.

I'd previously read one of her other books--Hell--and really liked it--but it was nothing like this book. Unfortuantely, I can't say much about it because, to describe it is to insult it--nothing I can say can come close to doing it justice. I beg anyone reading this who is interested in literature or the nature of the Cosmos or who has ever loved another person in their life to read this.

I am also fairly sure that is was published last year and I didn't see it on any year end lists--despite getting lots of great reviews when it came out. That is a shame because it is a profoundly important, religous, and meaningful work.

3) The Amalgamation Polka by Stephen Wright was another terrific book I read this past year that got great reviews but then seemed to get forgotten at the end of the year. The best book about the Civil War I've ever read, and some crazy good prose too.

"Someone had produced a fiddle around which soon congregated a makeshift chorus of willing singers, obscure figures in black cutout against the last fading light, and then the familiar strains of 'Old Folks at Home' rose up against the night in fluidly adroit, unforgettable harmony and it was possible to believe that the world and the things of the world were connected by a melody of their own, persistent though often indistinct, traces of which could be heard lurking even beneath the sentimental cadences of a popular tune of the day, and as the final note dissolved into a pure sustained silence, all noise and motion beyond the boat, the toiling mules, seemed to cease -- even inanimate objects held their breaths -- and into that becalmed interval glided, silent as a shade, the long, graceful packet and its entranced human cargo, as through a mystic cavern hewn from nature's own stuff, and then the bow hit the strings (the opening bars to 'Turkey in the Straw') and the spell was broken, and time fell back onto the travelers' shoulders like a cloak spun of material so gorgeously fine you didn't even realize it was wearing you until it had been briefly whisked away."
I haven't read any of his other books, but I sure am going to.

4) Conversational Reading is my favorite lit blog of the past year. Lots of great stuff to read here.

5) I've already talked bunches about how great is was this past year to get into David Foster Wallace. Beginning with Infinite Jest, I read most of what he's published (there are a few stories I haven't read yet, and I am waiting for Consider the Lobster to come out in paperback).

If you have spent any time around RB, Matt K! or me this year, you probably have heard enough, or if spent that much time around us, you probably also don't need to be told how good Wallace is (or of course maybe you hate him). In any case, there are many reasons for me not to go into how much I like his writing.

6) We had a good time.

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