It’s about that time, isn’t it? The year 2009 is here and everyone wants to sum up the best and worst of 2008. Like we all care. Like if I give you my best of 2008 are you going to feel like I’ve imparted some sort of precious knowledge on you? Probably not, right?
Okay, well if you’ve come here looking for a Top 10 you can forget it.
I’ll give you two reasons, but that’s it.
Since the mandate of this little corner of the internet universe is to focus on queer literature, I’d likely have to focus my list on the best Canadian queer writing of 2008, a task that would be somewhat problematized for me because I personally know a lot of queer Canadian writers. We don’t all get together every Sunday for breakfast or anything but we certainly do catch each other’s eye at various events. I sit next to them at readings and periodically say tender hellos in the mall.
So let’s say I leave one of these homos off my list. Sure, most of them would be cool with it, jovial even. But I can’t help but think a few of them would take it personally. Frankly, there are queers out there who write for a living who know where I live and I won’t risk anyone toilet papering my house just so you, faithful reader, can have a top 10.
The other reason, which is probably more important, is that I flat out don’t believe in top 10 lists. Maybe because I hate David Letterman.
So there it is. I’ve blown both your expectations of a “Best of 2008” and outed myself as a somewhat less than impartial journalist.
The one thing I will say for 2008 is that there were, even if I won’t list them in ascending order, a lot of really amazing books published. By books I mean non-fiction, fiction, poetry and comics — the whole kit ‘n caboodle had a pretty cool year by my estimates.
Given that I spent a lot of time at comic conventions this year, the majority of my 2008 was spent consuming comics and graphic novels. This year I discovered the genius haunting art and writing of Canadian Jeff Lemire, who recently won the Doug Wright Award (the Canadian Comics award) for Emerging Talent. I also rediscovered the homosexual fabulous of Jennifer Camper’s queer comics collections Juicy Mother (1 and 2), published by Soft Skull Press and Manic D Press respectively. Containing artwork and stories by Alison Bechdel, Cannuck GB Jones, and Camper herself, these collections are worth digging up if you can find them.
Probably my biggest heart punch from a comic this year came from Mike Dawson, who wrote and illustrated the biocomic Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody. Freddie & Me is the story of how the music of Freddie Mercury, via Queen, influenced and enriched Dawson’s life, from his childhood in the UK to his teen and adult years in the USA. I loved this book not only because it is an amazing and well told story, worth picking up if only for those reasons, but also because it’s essentially a heterosexual love letter to a (queer male) rock star. This is a queer story because it’s a straight-from-the-heart take on how a boy’s idolization of a man and his music can be carried through a lifetime.
My goals for this year, 2009, since I’m apparently not beyond making resolutions, is to attend far more readings than I did last year. Every time I go to one of these things I have an awesome time and someone almost always buys me a beverage. Every time I don’t go I feel bad. So there it is. Hopefully those of you in Toronto will see me out and about more. That could be a good thing.
Happy New Years all!