December / End of Year
Having successfully documented most of last year, it would only be correct to complete the set and do a little piece about December. Except, everyone knows that nothing actually happens in December, the whole month is really about going back over what has happened in the past 11 months, and looking forward to what might happen in the next 12 (or 11, since we know that nothing will actually happen in December 2015).
In terms of completed pieces of work, 2014 was probably my least productive since about 2006 (8197 words of one novel, 14,861 of another, plus one completed short story of 6,513 words is about the sum total). Not that I measure years by word count. It’s just that it was more of a year for brain input than for brain output – I found myself inspiration-rich but time-poor. I didn’t finish any novels, I didn’t win any prizes. I ended the year with lots of notes and ideas but not much that is fully complete and presentable.
It’s always a good year for reading, because unless you’ve got to the end of Books (and if you have – well done, you deserve a rest now), there’s always something interesting to read. I don’t know what my favourite book published in 2014 was (I’ll probably discover it in 2015, 2016 or sometime in the 2030s), but I can tell you about some of the books I enjoyed reading last year.
I’ve already written about some of them – like George Saunders’ Tenth Of December and Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen’s The Rabit Back Literature Society in March, Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine and Tibor Fischer’s The Collector Collector in June, Gareth Brookes’ The Black Project and Joff Winterhart’s Days Of The Bagnold Summer in August.
But there were plenty more. A quick summary, which could act as a list of recommendations could go something like this:
Fflur Dafydd’s The White Trail (modern reimagining of a medieval Welsh myth – check out the Mabinogion Stories seres from Seren Books – that I bought as a souvenir of some time spent looking in a very nice book shop in Crickhowell), Stephen Collins’ The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil (fun graphic novel with a pleasing situations-getting-out-of-hand shape), Scott Lynch’s Lies Of Locke Lamora (like China Mieville scripting the BBC’s Hustle) …
… Cory Doctorow’s Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom (fun, pacey futuristic Disney dystopia), Robin Sloan’s Mr Penumbra’s Twenty Four Hour Bookstore (crammed with ideas), Patti Smith’s Just Kids (readable and engaging memoir), Jonathan Wilson’s The Outsider (fascinating history of the most interesting of football players, the goalkeeper) and Nick Harkaway’s The Blind Giant (brilliantly summarised on the cover by William Gibson, “1967 could read it and basically understand 2013”).
I have, of course, got plenty of interesting things to read in 2015. My TBR pile has grown a little over Christmas, thanks to some very kind presents. So over the next few months I’m looking forward to having a read of the below:
Right. On with 2015.