How to stay WOKE and how to stay sane.
This year, I've officially read THE LEAST number of books ever in my lifetime. How's that for a poorly written sentence? If you look over to your right at my sidebar, you'll see my Bookworm 2016 list, and it's much sparer than those for the previous eight years that I've been listing them. I've also seen the least number of movies of my lifetime this year. I'm making no apologies here -- to you or to myself. I haven't been reading as much, and I haven't been going to the movies as much. I've been preoccupied by cataclysmic changes in my personal life and the world. I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but that is one true good sentence. These changes have been both profoundly awful (the election and the dystopian nightmare that has ensued) and, literally, life-altering in the best way (what causes the most distraction in life? she asks, coyly).
Now I'm going to tell you what my favorite book and my favorite movie of 2016 has been.
Oh, this book. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter. It's small and it's beautiful and it's about grief and loss and death and children and love and a crow. You know how I feel about crows. I both despise and am seduced by them, regularly, in real life and on the page. Oh, this book. It's so wildly inventive that I am hard put to describe it. I aspire to write like this, to express myself with such economy and wit and truth. It's very short, but I read it slowly in order to savor every word and every bit of blank space. I love the yellow and gray of the cover, the way it feels in my hand. It's a poem and a novel and a visual feast. I read it a few times. You should, too.
Oh, this movie. Moonlight. I don't want to sully its beauty with my words, any words really. I saw it twice with someone I love, and we talked for hours and hours about it, both times. I'll see it again. It's about everything beautiful and sad you can think of, and it's about what it means to be alive and human. It's intensely specific and universal. There's a scene in it of a boy learning to swim in the ocean, his head resting in a man's hand, the water is all around them and the sky above and it's all around you and so is the sky and it's as if all of your life is cradled there, safe. And then there's the moon and the light and so many eyes and deep gazes both inward and out. I'm still trying to figure out how the director did what he did, how the actors portrayed these people so brilliantly and how a piece of art can quite literally make everything all right. I've seen it twice and will again. You should, too.
Reader, tell me your favorite book and movie of the year.
P.S. I have read the recently published books of dear friends, and I choose not to "review" them or pick as favorites. That's a given. Stay tuned, though, for my words about them both.