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Showing posts from December, 2016

2016, A Year in Reading: Best Reads of the Year

I read 93 books in 2016.  For a while I thought I'd make it to a hundred, but no matter--this is still a huge leap, one more book, in fact, than I read in 2015 and 2014 put together.  I wish I could put my finger on just why my reading this year made such tremendous strides.  Part of the reason is purely practical--I read a great deal of comics this year, and no small amount of YA and single-volume anthologies, and these all made for rather quick reads.  But I also feel like I've broken through a wall with my reading--with identifying books I'd like to read and am likely to enjoy, and with organizing my reading so that I'm not overwhelmed by too many heavy books, or too many trivial ones, and end up feeling dispirited and not willing to crack open another cover.  This was particularly surprising when you consider that 2016 was the year I broke my habit of not reading genre trilogies, or at least not carrying on with them past the first volume.  I read the first two vol…

Recent Reading Roundup 42

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It's nearly time to sum up the year's reading, and I have a great deal to talk about on that front. Unfortunately, I've been felled by a flu, so I'm hoping I'll be back my feet and in a state to write meaningfully about, well, anything by the time the 31st rolls around (which, as everyone knows, is the only proper time to talk about the year's best anything). In the meantime, however, here are some thoughts about some of the books I read in the last third of the year, including some major genre publications.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - Like, I suspect, a lot of people, I picked up Hawley's third novel on the strength of his work adapting the Coen brothers' Fargo into one of the most delightful and unusual television series of the last few years, arguably the best example of the increasingly popular anthology series format (Hawley is also the showrunner of the forthcoming Legion, which if nothing else bids fair to become the first MCU property with…

Violent Delights: Thoughts on the First Season of Westworld

What to say about Westworld?  How to sum up its frustrating, fitfully brilliant first season?  The problem with Westworld--or rather, not the problem, because this is a show with so many different problems, which is, of course, a problem in itself--is that it never quite seems to cohere into the sum of its parts.  Those parts were frequently magnificent--from incidental but beautiful touches like Ramin Djawadi's playful soundtrack choices, to core elements like the fearless performances of Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton--but even at the end of the show's ten-episode first season, I find myself asking the same question that I asked at its beginning: is this show about anything other than itself?

The scattershot nature of the show's writing, its haphazard brilliance, has made it into the best sort of thinkpiece fodder.  At one point or another, we decided that Westworld was: a critique of the HBO brand and its reliance on violence and misogyny; an exploration of the co…