And so, like I did for my first, second, and third anniversaries, here's a look back at the year that was, with many links.
Over the course of this fourth year, I've made 880 posts, which compares favorably to 2007-2008 (834), 2006-2007 (841), and 2005-2006 (809). It's solidly above the previous years even after last month's attack of lassitude, which is gratifying. (Wait. Am I saying that I need to post ever-increasing numbers of times each year? Do I really want to be shackled to that particular wheel? I must think about this.)
In case you've wandered here by accident and are wondering if Antick Musings is a personal or literary or publishing blog, the answer is Yes. And No. And Maybe. It's not any particularly defined blog, though I've wrested with the question of what exactly it is in a mission statement and a credo and an explanation. I see that I try to define myself about once a year, which means I'm overdue for my next attempt. This year I did finally explain the long and twisted tale of the real G.B.H. Hornswoggler, though.
My big post last year came at the very beginning of the year, and was linked very widely. It was On Being Skipped, an examination of why some books don't get into a bookstore chain at all and what the appropriate response to that should be. That sucker is still getting hits, which amazes me.
I formulated one law this year: Wheeler's Postulate on Controversy.
I combed through Publishers Weekly's list of 2008 bestsellers to pull out all of the SF/Fantasy/Horror titles I could find and/or identify.
In a year of many "fails" and controversies, I explained why arguing on the Internet is futile.
I wrote something like an obituary when one of the most important writers of the 20th century, J.G. Ballard, died in April.
I had a theory about "Amazonfail."
Every single Monday morning, I post a Reviewing the Mail entry, listing and writing about all of the books that came in the mail for review the previous week. They're all pretty much the same kind of thing, so I won't call any of them out individually. But they do seem to be, collectively, the most popular thing I do here.
I get those books in the mail because I review books -- I used to claim that I didn't do reviews, but I gave up on that stance a year or so ago when it got too silly to maintain -- though, in defiance of best Internet practices, I have still refused to settle down to any one genre or type of book. Among the more notable/interesting/idiosyncratic reviews I did in this past year are:
- Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes
- Lawrence Block's Hit and Run
- Douglas Brown's Just Do It
- Matthew Stover's Caine Black Knife
- Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody
- W.E. Bowman's The Ascent of Rum Doodle
- Matthew Kneale's When We Were Romans
- Justine Larbalestier's How to Ditch Your Fairy
- Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers
- David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague
- a paired review I called Two Barrels of Bile
- Walter Mosley's Killing Johnny Fry
- Adam Rex's The True Meaning of SmekDay
- Charlotte Roche's Wetlands
- Terry Pratchett's Nation
- P.J. O'Rourke's Driving Like Crazy
- James Morrow's Shambling Towards Hiroshima
- Gene Wolfe's An Evil Guest
- Michael Lewis's Home Game
- Lawrence Block's Step By Step
- Harlan Ellison's The Other Glass Teat
- Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You
- China Mieville's The City and the City
- and Charles Stross's Wireless
- Guy Delisle's Burma Chronicles
- Jason Lutes's Berlin: City of Smoke
- the Lynda Barry-edited Best American Comics: 2008
- Chris Ware's ACME Novelty Library, No. 19
- the Ivan Brunetti-edited An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, Vol. 2
- Dash Shaw's Bottomless Belly Button
- The Alcoholic by Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel
- The Special Edition of Ghost World by Dan Clowes (including a screenplay by Clowes and Terry Zwigoff)
- Three Dispatches from the Phillippines
- The Showcase volume reprinting Ambush Bug
- Yoshihiro Tatsumi's A Drifting Life
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 3: Century, No. 1: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
- Darwyn Cooke's Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter
- and David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp.
My posts about movies are generally more cursory and slapdash than my book reviews, but I like some of those as well, such as the reviews for Hamlet 2, The Dark Knight, The Baxter (where I announced the beginning of the "short and funny" regime that has ruled most of my rental-movie selections this year), the extremely silly Wanted, Synechdoche, NY, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Up, Lost in Austen, Flash Gordon, and The Wrong Guy. I also occasionally liveblogged movies, usually when I was feeling both bored and puckish, as I did with Pineapple Express and the utterly ridiculous The Spirit.
Speaking of reviews, within a few weeks earlier this year, I reviewed Coraline in its novel, movie, and graphic novel (the last of six books in that long post) forms.
I do a fair bit of go-look-at-that blogging as well, which I won't link to here. (Linking to links makes the Baby Jesus cry, as I've said before.) I did discover TV Tropes in January, which led to the now-traditional time sink.
But I have done more substantial posts about less-usual topics, such as this Halloween post about the band Harley Poe, a note about the death of pin-up queen Bettie Page (mostly an excuse to post two typical pictures of her winning smile and other amazing assets), a quizzical glance at my weird Turkish spam, a round-up of the spoof posts of April First, and some thoughts about my relationship to my sons' cat.
I am a grump and a stick-in-the-mud on certain grammatical questions, and will insist unto my deathbed that rewriting can solve nearly all of those problems.
I've poked at the New York Times on occasion -- such as trying to explain their muddy bestseller methodology, picking on their (very occasional) SF reviewer Dave Itzkoff over his Anathem review, and then made fun of their bestseller list methodology yet again this summer when they trumpeted that an old Julia Childs book would hit the list for the first time...despite the fact that, by their own rules, old books aren't eligible.
I pondered the nominees for the major SFnal awards: Locus, Nebula, Hugo. And then I re-pondered the winners of the Nebulas. (On I related note, I also attended the Worldcon.)
I had two related projects this year: Saturday Is Bond Day, in which my two sons and I watched the first dozen-and-a-half movies in order, and James Bond Daily, in which I re-read all of the Ian Fleming books, also in order. (I'm the kind of guy who does things in order if humanly possible.)
I will link to my brother's cartoons as often as he makes them, which is very rarely. Hey, Dan, do some more cartoons! You're in Portland now, so you have no excuse not to!
I link to Amazon pretty regularly, in an attempt to make a couple of cents that I can then spend at Amazon -- it's a circle of some kind, I suppose -- but linking to those would be crass in this context. So I'll just be slightly crass, and link to the least likely, and probably most useless -- but most awesomely named -- of all of those posts, the one about the Automotive Part Finder Widget.
I did quite a bit of recycling this year, pulling old posts from the Usenet group rec.arts.sf.written (which I seem to have completely abandoned for the last six or nine months, in case there's anyone here who's also there) and from my days on the Straight Dope Message Board. One bit of frivolity in that line was Accessibility, Fantasy, and Harry Potter. Along similar lines, I explained the concept of the midlist, listed things writers believe, wrote a bit about mass-market paperbacks, ponder the question of the next Rowling, repurposed a rewrite of Tolkien a la Monty Python, and considered the Millennium/White Wolf series of Michael Moorcock reprints.
Similarly, I reposted long comments from other places here occasionally, such as this note on a tiny controversy about Amazon reviews, and another piece about comics distribution and formats.
I complained about a bit of specialist terminology in a field not my own: first past the post.
And I did a lot of publishing-industry blogging, some of which shades imperceptibly into my numbers-wonkery blogging, such as in this examination of the economics of Jerry Seinfeld's new book deal. (A similar combination led to my scorn for a cross-country bestseller list.) I also tried to lay down the rules of self-publishing, though actual self-publishers mostly ignored me (as, probably, they should). I kept track of all of the layoffs and other unpleasantness on Black Wednesday, because that's the kind of always-look-on-the-bleak-side person I am. I also took a look at the question "Why Can't a Book Be More Like a Website?" after two much more plugged-in and thoughtful consulting/speaking types got to it first -- and, of course, I felt compelled to disagree with them. Jonathan Karp came up with a list of ways to save publishing, and I disagreed with them pretty much comprehensively. And then I was uncharacteristically positive, looking forward towards Dan Brown's new novel and calculating the coattails effect of the last Stephenie Meyer book. And I finallty tried to be a voice of reason in the recent brou-ha-ha about Barnes & Noble asking (or, perhaps, demanding) that authors link to their website.
Last year, November was very busy. I'm sorry to say that it looks like this year will be even worse. (The Hornswoggler visibly shudders.)
I was a judge for the Eisner Awards (for the US comics industry) this year, which I announced then then mostly mentioned off-handedly. I had a number of review round-ups of books I read for the Eisners, but most of the reading was crammed into the traditional college-cram-session-style judging weekend, which then led to a truly epic-length post about the books I read in March. I also thought about the the process, and the obligatory minor controversy about the nominees, afterward.
As required by the by-laws of blogging, I spent some time doing memes, such as this list of questions to be answered by iTunes, another list of SF novels annointed by The Guardian as must-reads, one of those too-many-questions things the Younger Generation keeps generating, another list of 25 things about me, and four or five very similar iTunes memes.
I had a short sequence of posts under the title Book Marketing 101, but haven't continued, due to time pressures and lack of obvious next topics. (Though I'm still hoping that people will suggest things they want to know about.)
And, as always, I kept one eye on the vast world of Andrew Wheelers, who are all tall and smart and well-spoken, strong men and true ready to serve their country (whichever one that happens to be) and the world to the utmost of their exceptionally high abilities. Won't you put your trust in an Andrew Wheeler today?
Since I now have linked to nearly all of those 880 posts from last year, I think that's enough. Year Five begins right now...as I head off to San Francisco on a business trip, and probably don't post much for most of this week. Such is life.