The Editor's picks, 2014
My best two reads of the year have both been non-fiction.
Michael Harris' The End of Absence
(Current) explores our relationship with the internet, particularly for those
- like me - who can remember before it arrived - and argues for 'reclaiming
what we've lost in a world of constant connection'. It's an intriguing mix of
science, statistics, sociology, hearsay and technology; Harris is no luddite
but he is concerned about how social and learning skills have already changed,
and the difference between being able to find something out and actually
Elsewhere, it's felt like a thin year for books. David
Miller's Reassembling Still. Collected Poems (Shearsman) has been a sustained delight since it arrived at the
beginning of the summer, as has H.L. Hix's as much as, if not more
than (Etruscan), which at times weaves
conversations with poets, myself included, into complex, intriguing poems.
Hix has also curated the astonishing Ley Lines project (Wilfred Laurier University Press), where
visual art, written responses, artists' statements and interviews are
juxtaposed and contrasted. It's also good to have a new book from Olena
Kalytiak Davis, whose The Poem She Didn't Write and Other Poems (Copper Canyon) has just arrived. It's an
irreverent, lusty, complex, bold set of poems, alive to the complexities of a
21st postfeminism and the everyday nuances of love and language.
Musically, it was a delight to see Gang of Four play live
in September. I'd never seen them onstage before, and their taut, angsty
postpunk rock was the highlight of a beautiful open-air concert event at
Heartlands in Cornwall. Elbow were surprisingly good at the Eden project too.
Eyeless in Gaza's Mythic Language
triple CD + downloads set (Ambivalent Scale) was a joy, particularly the unreleased studio tracks and the
early live recordings. Brian Eno's four recent reissues are well worth
seeking out for their accompanying bonus CDs too, particularly the first
official release of My Squelchy Life.