Old Sock Drawer

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#090: ’09 in literary and musical recap!

January 1st, 2010 by Mary Leong

Everyone else is going to write/has written terribly philosophical and thoughtful things regarding the turn of the decade, so I shan’t bother with the melodrama and cut straight to the madcap fun bit: the best of the past year. I’m aware that one usually ought to do this sort of thing before the new year actually dawns, but unforseen circumstances have me doing this at nearly noon the next day, what larks.

So without further ado, the best of ’09 (and by “best” I just mean that it was extremely enjoyable or particularly inspiring; this is no hopped-up hoity-toity selection process).

If you must only read one book a year, make sure it’s this one.

I have so much love for this book that it is getting to be fairly ridiculous. Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges is a veritably righteous rant about the dearth of literacy, our self-destructive obsession with media, and the stronghold of two-second/160-character soundbites. No one is spared: WWE wrestling, pornography, and the Ivy League all fall under Hedges’ pen and iron wit. I’ve written a rather lengthy and geekishly gleeful entry about it here on why you should read this, bow down to the brilliance, and weep.

The best original musical libretto/score of the year was definitely Next to Normal. Robbed at the Tonys, I say, robbed!

A stunning drama about family, bipolar disorder, and all the ups and downs in between, N2N is not only a brilliant piece of theatre, but also a wonderful exploration of the validity of what society terms normalcy – or something like it. Also, the Original Broadway Cast Recording features the unbeatable Alice Ripley, which in itself is a reason to check it out.


Regina Spektor’s third CD, Far, is a charming and darkly whimsical collection of songs with a slightly different feel than her previous works. Featuring gems such as the snarky “Folding Chair“, the peppy “Dance Anthem of the 80s” (click for music video!), and the glorious “Two Birds” wrapped in a delicate piano-pop drape, this is definitely one of my favourite CDs of the year.

So come on on’10, let the new year of literary and musical wonder blossom! There are already several pieces of musical theatre I have my eye on…we’ll see!

And with that, to all, a gloriously happy New Year.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Eastwood Jan 1, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    Added Empire of Illusion to my list.

    I’m nearly through Shake Hands With the Devil. It’s quite a thought-provoking read.

  • 2 Mary Leong Jan 7, 2010 at 12:09 am

    I must add that to my list! Let me know what you think of Empire of Illusion, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.