What was our favorite book of the year? The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, of course. No, wait, in How To Be Both, Ali Smith did things other writers don’t dare, while zeroing in on the very nature of art. And The Children Act may not be as filling as Atonement, but it is the best Ian McEwan we’ve read since On Chesil Beach. Aargh, was it just a few months ago that we read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and felt like we’d died and been resurrected many times in the course of the novel? Then we had to read every Atkinson book we could get our hands on, and she writes detective novels that manage to be both grisly and warm-hearted. Not to mention HHhH, My Struggle volume 1, the stories of Mavis Gallant, discovering Penelope Fitzgerald and rediscovering Isak Dinesen. . .
2014 has been one of our best reading years, and there’s still a month to go. While we’re racking our overheated brain, tell us what your favorite book of the year is, and convince us to read it. (The book need not have been published in 2014, you just have to have read it in 2014.) Post your answers in Comments.
The winner will be announced on 5 December, and she or he will get this hardcover first edition of The Bone Clocks (or if they already have The Bone Clocks, Php1,000 in National Bookstore gift certificates).
This contest is brought to you by our friends at National Bookstore.
Last week we decided that we would not watch The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part I because it’s the only movie that opened at the cinema last week and we hate not having a choice. Instead, we decided to watch our favorite dystopian science-fiction movie (tied with Blade Runner) Children of Men, Alfonso Cuaron’s film adaptation of the novel by P.D. James.
We have not read P.D. James’s detective novels featuring the poet-sleuth Adam Dalgliesh, but we enjoyed Death Comes to Pemberley, which features characters from Pride and Prejudice.
The other day Deo mentioned that a contemporary English author whose name he couldn’t remember is writing mysteries in the tradition of Agatha Christie or P.D. James, he forgot which. “Wait, is P.D. James still alive?” he asked.
Today we read that P.D. James, Baroness James of Holland Park, has died at age 94.
On November 20 Puregold held its third VIPuring Convention at Le Pavillon in Pasay City. VIPuring is an exclusive event for the Gold Members of Tindahan ni Aling Puring, Puregold’s loyalty program. Gold Members previewed the latest offers and promotions of the top supermarket chain in the country. In photo (left to right): Antonio De Los Santos, Operations Manager, Puregold; Susan Co, Vice Chairman, Puregold; Ramachandra Golikere, Marketing Head, P&G Distributing Phils. Inc.; and Anna Legarda-Locsin, Communications Head, P&G Distributing Phils. Inc.
Finally the van approached the Fondation Louis Vuitton and we could see the building with our own eyes. It is amazing. It is as if a zeppelin crash-landed on Waterworld, and the scavengers made a giant sailboat with the parts. How does it stand up? More importantly, how can the art inside compete with the exterior?
We were disgorged by the van into a long queue for tickets, even if it was just two and a half hours before closing time. Tickets in hand, we joined the next queue at the main entrance. Above the main door is a big, glittering LV logo that made me feel like I was entering an enormous handbag. A guard inspected our bags while a lady with a clipboard asked each visitor where she was from. There was some discussion over whether some Americans with a baby in a stroller should be admitted. The experience was not unlike being judged by the doorman before gaining entry into a trendy nightclub.
Read our article at BusinessWorld.
In July we reported that Tina Cuyugan has started a campaign to revive interest in the work of Penelope Fitzgerald. This was brought on by the publication of the prize-winning biography by Hermione Lee. Tina had been looking for a copy of the biography; we finally found one in Paris and schlepped it home (the hardcover is a doorstop).
In recent weeks, the novelist Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty, The Stranger’s Child) and critic James Wood have written about the late British author, whose career should inspire procrastinators everywhere because her first novel came out when she was 60. Everyone thought she was a dotty old lady who wore curtains. Well she did wear curtains, but she wasn’t dotty.
Hollinghurst in the New York Review of Books: “Hers was very much the art that hides art, and she had besides a horror of explanation. She can introduce characters in the most glancing way, so that it is as if we were put in a room with them, alert for any signal of who they might be. “I try to make everything quite clear,” she said, “but then I think, this is an insult to the reader…I shouldn’t like to have all this explained to me, and so I begin to cut out, whole chapters go.”
James Wood in the New Yorker: “Authority is part of the obscure magic of her achievement as a novelist. If one of the commonest critical responses to her work seems to be laudatory bafflement—“How does she do it?”—the beginning of an answer is that she proceeds with utmost confidence that she will be heard and that we will listen, even to her reticence. Her fictions sit on the page with the well-rubbed assurance of fact, as if their details were calmly agreed upon, and long established.”
This describes the experience of reading The Blue Flower exactly. Her final novel is eccentric, funny, oblique, and leaves you wondering how she manages to kill the reader without showing a weapon.
We are reading The Gate of Angels.
All images: Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Read Space Cats: How the “falling cat” phenomenon helped NASA prepare astronauts for zero gravity. Thanks to Juan for the alert.
Cats are the navigators of gravity. We demand a live-action movie starring cats directed by Alfonso Cuaron and shot by Emmanuel Lubezki.
Read Our Cats, Ourselves in the New York Times.