Five Dials, How to be Both, and the other Gems of 2014
Judging from the news, it seems as though the world is in a complete free fall, but 2014 had its moments. So I am going to share everything I discovered this year.
A hidden gem: I subscribe to a few literary magazines and for the most part, the content is a bit predictable. Every quarter the same famous writers are published and I really wanted to read someone new; which led me to Five Dials, a monthly online literary journal from Hamish Hamilton (a Penguin Books imprint). Five Dials is by far one of the most interesting literary magazines I’ve read. Their contributors range from Susan Sontag to Nick Hornby. It’s insightful, witty, and inventive. It’s also free. You can find their magazine here: http://www.fivedials.com/fivedials. You can find them on Twitter: @FiveDials and their publisher here: @HamishH1931.
Television: although this is not technically on the telly, Beau Willimon’s House of Cards is the only reason I subscribe to Netflix. In fact, I’m a little obsessed with this political show. I binge watched all thirteen episodes this year. Frank and Claire Underwood are the most ruthless couple since Macbeth and his wife; it has the clever suspense that most television shows are missing. I discovered this show in 2013, but season 2 was perfection and I feel obligated to share.
Documentary: Citizenfour. This is a thoughtful examination of surveillance, there are a number of conversations between Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald, which I found interesting. In the U.S., Mr. Greenwald has been portrayed as an activist rather than a journalist, a rogue Libertarian by some, a traitor, and the list goes on. Rep. Peter King has said numerous times that Greenwald should be prosecuted. King still refers to future legal action against Greenwald, he’s a bit vague about what he can legally do. Who knows? I’m conflicted about Snowden’s actions. Did he make the country less safe? Is ISIS thriving because Snowden revealed NSA’s tactics? Those are allegations from U.S. Congress. Who knows if it’s true? I found this documentary fascinating. The effects of government data collection aren’t yet known, but U.S. officials still seem almost cavalier about what the NSA has done to its citizens; and this pervasive disregard for our privacy is disturbing. Somehow I was oblivious to the publicity surrounding Citizenfour, so how did I find this documentary? Simon Prosser of Hamish Hamilton tweeted about Citizenfour and I decided to go see it. This turned out to be my favourite documentary of 2014. Although Laura Poitras is a fellow New School alum, I don’t remember reading about Citizenfour in the alumni newsletter; but I’m sure it was mentioned.
Literary novel: Ali Smith’s How to be Both is brilliant. Smith structured this novel in such an inventive way; I’ll never understand why it didn’t win the Booker. This book is exceptional and definitely a must read.
Graphic novel: I’ve been enamored with The New Yorker covers since I was a kid so it’s no surprise I pre-ordered Richard McGuire’s Here. McGuire’s New Yorker covers are my favourite. I can’t wait to read his (full colour) graphic novel that was initially a black and white comic strip published in 1989.
Ballet: The Bolshoi Ballet is one of the best companies in the world so I was excited when they announced upcoming shows via cinema. I’ve seen a few of their live performances and it’s spectacular. There’s still time to see The Nutcracker. Here’s the Bolshoi Ballet schedule:
Ballet dancer: There are so many interesting people on Twitter and David Hallberg is one of the most fascinating; a principal dancer with both the American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet, Hallberg tweets stunning pictures from the Bolshoi Theatre and links to visual art. If you are on Twitter, I suggest you have a look at his Twitterfeed. Hallberg is also on Instagram. I remember going to Lincoln Center just to see him dance, he is a brilliant dancer. You can read more about Hallberg at http://davidhallberg.com.
This is the last post of 2014 (I have gluten free cookies to bake and eat), so I’m sending you all best wishes for the holiday season!