Once again this Christmas, Santa had an uncanny ability to know precisely what I wanted. I mean, I told my wife, but how could she have gotten a hold of him on such short notice? While I’m trying to unravel the mystery, I have some amazing things to read, listen to, and consume.
Raymond Carver – Collected Stories
Every story from this master of direct, muscular language, in one beautiful volume (complete with fabric book marker thingy!). Carver’s stories are snapshots of people forging through the thickets of American life, and they’re littered with beautiful loose ends.
Randy Newman – Live In London
The greatest songwriter of all time in my book, performing a career-spanning set with a London orchestra, all of it pristinely recorded – from spot-on renditions of “Marie” and “It’s Money That I Love” to jealous rants about Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder. Never have his talents as a composer, lyricist and bitter rich guy been so lovingly presented.
T.H. White – The Once And Future King
I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read this, the mother of all re-imaginings of the Arthurian legend. While it hard to imagine any book being better than Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Trilogy – fantasy or otherwise – this is sure to please the weirdo Anglophile side of me. Which is most of me.
Saga Of The Swamp Thing: Book Four
If you remember my Christmas gift post from last year (which of course you do), you know that I received Book Three of Alan Moore’s lyrical, crushingly romantic, existentialist horror comic Swamp Thing. I’m going to try to not plow through this volume in one sitting like I did last year, savoring it like the gourmet meal it is. But once I’m under Moore’s spell again, I’m most likely going to stuff my face.
Kate Bush has toned things down as she’s aged. Gone are the operatic screams and guttural growls that marked The Dreaming and Hounds of Love. 50 Words For Snow is a more meditative listen, with sprawling running times, gentle piano chords and haunting backup singers. But Bush is as fantastically weird as ever – the snowman erotica song “Misty” and the Yeti sympathizer tale “Wild Man” make for a one-two punch you won’t find anywhere else. On this planet, at least.
Santa also gave me a gorgeous collection of various microbrews, which I’m trying to preserve along with Swamp Thing. A Belgian beer called “Delirium Noel” has been the best one so far. (After checking out Delirium’s website, I’m an even bigger fan.) Not to mention the sweet-ass Duvel snifter that came with everything, which I now believe could turn Keystone Light into something lovely. Thank you so much, Jennifer. Um, I mean, Santa.