My Best of the Year: Books, TV, Movies
By Lisa Tuttle
But the novels that really stand out as the most moving and gripping reading experiences of the year for me – books I do not hesitate to call great -- are Room by Emma Donoghue and The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver.
Room is one that, initially, I didn’t want to read at all, knowing that it had been inspired by one (or more) of those horrible true stories involving a man keeping a young woman imprisoned in his cellar for many years. But the praise and award-nominations made me take a look, and once I’d read a few pages I was hooked by the voice. The story is told by the woman’s little boy, and it’s all about his perceptions and experiences, growing up in one small room that, to him, is all the world. It’s about the child and his mother, not about the sexual deviant who is their jailer, it’s about love and integrity and growing up, and it is absolutely brilliant.
My absolute favourite thing on TV this year, as the year before, was MAD MEN. It’s so burnished and beautiful to look at, the actors are wonderful, and the minimalist style of story-telling unlike anything I’ve ever seen made for television, and hypnotic in its power. I just adore watching it. Yes, it’s a downer – all the characters seem set on a disastrous course, fixated on the wrong things, destroying each others’ lives as well as their own, the storylines are depressing, and then there’s all that casual sexism, racism and cigarette-smoking...oh, maybe you are bad for me, MAD MEN, but for the first time in my life I think I will have to buy the complete series on DVD, because I don’t know how I will go on without your company one night a week.
We don’t see many new movies – living out in the sticks -- and I don’t generally much care for even the few that we do see, especially not those big-budget Hollywood monsters. But we will watch (again) anything by Hitchcock that turns up on the small screen, and seeing VERTIGO this year was a real eye-opener. I think it was my third viewing – over the course of as many decades. I had remembered it as being somewhat ludicrous, and in terms of the plot, maybe it is, but psychologically? Wow. What an amazing psycho-drama. Maybe I needed those two earlier viewings to prepare me – I saw it in a very different way this time, and it gave me so much to think about. Definitely my most compelling movie experience of the year.
Lisa Tuttle is the author of numerous novels and short story collections. She has also published nonfiction and more than a dozen books for younger readers. Aqueduct Press published her novella, My Death, in 2008. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she has made her home in a remote rural region of Scotland for the last twenty years.