Top 19 Overall of 2001
recommendations by Eric J. Iannelli
1) Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald, (Random House)
In his fourth novel, Sebald has once again pushed the limits of his sui generis fiction. He is one of the only — if not THE only — contemporary authors doing anything of note.
2) Spoon, Girls Can Tell (Merge Records)
These indie rockers from Austin, TX have perfected a style of gritty, blues-based pop. This CD is quite possibly the most addictive release of 2001.
3) My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf Books)
As the books on Islam line the shelves of the local Barnes & Noble, this excellent work of fiction is going largely unnoticed in the September 11 aftermath.
4) Fugu, Fugu 1 (Minty Fresh Records)
Whilst Spoon was busy honing their bluesy sound, this French songwriter was crafting micro-symphonies that take retro-pop far beyond its known limits. This CD is proof.
5) The Colourful World of Amélie (US title: Amélie, Directed by Jean-Paul Jeunet
Forget the hype surrounding the new Harry Potter movie. This auteur made his mark with Delicatessen, and based on my girlfriend;s ever-accurate reviews, has returned with a rich, intelligent film that can only add to his already stellar reputation.
6) Burning Airlines, Identikit (DeSoto Records)
Jawbox, how can we miss you when this powerful phoenix has risen from your ashes?
7) Lomo TotalService
An automatic camera of Russian origin and design has now put all developing services to shame, making the traditional film-drop boxes seem antiquated and silly. Mail your film in the pre-paid envelope and get glossy prints, a photo CD, and online images for next to nothing — an amateur photographer’s dream.
8) In Ruins by Christopher Woodward (Literature)
Not only does Woodward quote the aforementioned W.G. Sebald in one extended passage, these essays on architecture extend far beyond their assumed confines.
9) Superchunk, Here’s to Shutting Up (Merge Records)
Our favourite indie icons returned with an album that managed to combine everything they’ve gleaned over their past decade-plus of operation.
10) Mac OS X
That’s pronounced “ten,” not “x.” Whilst M$ continues to develop its Big Brother-esque operating system, Steve Jobs & co. have given us a stable, luxurious alternative to the Windows monopoly.
11) The Weakerthans at Schlachthof, Hamburg
Though frontman John K. Samson has said otherwise, for me this live performance was worth two days of temporary tinnitus.
12) Cannonball Adderly, Cannonball Adderly’s Finest Hour (Verve Records)
A quintessential Verve CD compilation of this sax player’s best and best-known compositions.
13) The invasion of Afghanistan, better known as the hollow-sounding War on Terror
This act of unjustifiable military aggression which began on October 7 showed us how flawed contemporary foreign policy can be, and how nationalist fervour can still dupe a population of nearly 280 million plus assorted international allies.
14) B.R. Meyers, A Reader’s Manifesto (Literature)
After its appearance in the July/August issue of The Atlantic Monthly, this impassioned and articulate essay received overwhelming negative feedback for taking contemporary fiction and gave it the beating it deserves.
15) Copper Press
This underground ‘zine went bi-monthly (meaning every two months, not twice per month) in 2001, a relief to those who follow its coverage of the indie music scene, photography, design, snow- and skateboarding, et al.
16) A History of Bombing by Sven Lindqvist (Literature)
This unique book should be required reading for anyone who takes even a passing interest in current events. I think the title is a bit too broad, but that doesn’t affect the superbly researched content.
17) The Nobel Prize for Literature
If you were paying attention, you’ll know this award went to V.S. Naipaul, the first Brit in nearly thirty years and a fine writer to boot.
18) Apple iBook
The second of two big wins for Apple in my list. The new iBook (or ice-Book, as some call it) is the sleekest, most cost-effective workhorse in laptops today.
19) Swell, Everybody Wants to Know (Music)
After an extended hiatus, this under-recognized San Francisco indie rock outfit re-emerged as a one-man act with a dazzling album that deserved far more praise than it actually got.