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Media Summation: 2015

Last year’s everything-gets-a-summary model took too long to produce (and half the summaries therein were crap anyway) so this year I’m taking a different tack. Only the best and the worst entries will be summarized, and a complete list, without comment, will follow. Someday I’ll figure out the ideal format!

Best Fiction of 2015

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I try to avoid giving the “best” title to acknowledged classics, but I didn’t read a whole lot of good fiction this year, so it was no contest. Nabokov’s narrative of an unhappy pedophile remains as disturbing and engaging as ever. Also well worth a look is his afterword, which was included in the edition I read.

Runners-up!

  • Rabbit, Run. by John Updike. Similar to Lolita in status as a classic and its dislikable protagonist, Rabbit, Run is likewise a very interesting piece of fiction.
  • Honorable Mentions: We Were the Mulvaneys, Joyce Carol Oates. Mannequin Girl, Ellen Litman.

And the Worst Fiction of 2015…

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Despite the degree of hype that’s accumulated around this book, I found little merit in it. The characters are shallow, the plot revolves around extremely implausible coincidences, and it lacks any memorable qualities. It might seem good if you’ve never read anything better, but there are a thousand books I’d recommend instead.

Unlucky runners-up!

  • We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler. Despite the accolades he receives, Handler’s prose tends to leave me clammy and his plot in this book seems to be conflicted about whether it’s absurd or realistic.
  • From a Buick 8 by Stephen King. I wanted to try a King novel and this one sounded interesting. Here’s the entire book: There’s a creepy Buick. Sometimes it eats people. Sometimes aliens come out of it and then die. Repeat scenario for 400 pages.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. (Spoilers) It’s engaging and even memorable, but its subject of an evil, conniving woman who frames her husband for murder plays too much into the misogynist’s playbook for me.

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