This has been a strange year for popular culture - more than half of the best books I've ever read came to my attention (not necessarily came out though) in the past twelve months, but I've barely seen one decent movie.
The year started well with The Lies of Locke Lamora, a Christmas gift I read as soon as I got back to London in January. It pulls off a new genre crossover, as far as I'm aware, pitching a Sting-like heist in a fantasy world. Its morals and pacing are all Flashman, the backdrop is as rich as New Crobuzon.
Then in February my dear friend Serena bought me All My Friends are Superheroes for my birthday, a book which is little short of perfect. It is far too short to really count as a novel, is the sweetest, silliest love story I've ever seen, and if you can spare just an hour of your life to give it a try you won't regret it for a moment.
Some time in April I read The Road. My review of it is here. A staggering book, still probably the best I've ever read.
Summer saw me finally get around to The Time Traveller's Wife, under the mistaken belief that my friend Dan had chosen a passage from it to read at my wedding (he actually chose his passage from To Say Nothing of the Dog, he assures me, which I still haven't read). Still, it was an extremely happy mistake and hugely enriched an already magical holiday that roamed through Cornwall, Devon and bits of Somerset.
And honourable mentions should go to Soon I Will be Invincible, to the first of Garth Ennis's The Boys (though not the second and third, which are just awful), to Warren Ellis's Fell (which, as apparently predicted even by collaborator Ben Templesmith he seems to have got bored of after only a handful of books), The Rawshark Texts, and surprisingly to the tenth and final volume of Y: The Last Man (though not the first nine, which are weak, which begs serious questions about why I kept reading the damned things, but it was worth it for the end).
In films I've seen only three this year even worthy of comment. First, Doomsday. I cannot believe this film got made. There's this girl, right, and she has a glass eye which is also a camera, a fact which is elaborately set up and then never mentioned again. Some sort of virus has eaten everyone in Scotland, except actually they're fine but have chosen to regress their societies either to an absolutely bog-standard cyberpunk cannibal dystopia* or a bloody silly medieval fantasy in a castle. And there's a car chase between a vintage bentley and some Mad Max extras. The whole thing is incoherent, meaningless and quite astonishingly bad - worthy of some sort of special award for Attempted Cinematography. American Gangster was the only really good film I saw this year, and even that was just a remake of The Wire. And Wall*E, which I looked forward to all year after the brilliant viral marketing they did for it last year, was clever, probably far too clever to really be worth it. Wall*E for me was mainly about pulling a sort of intellectually satisfying but dramatically grating metafilm trick, in that the movie is really well-paced, moving and enjoyable until the humans turn up, at which point it becomes a grotesquely ugly, garish farce. Sure, the central message of the piece is that humans screw everything up, but did they really need to make two movies - a good one about a robot and a bad one about people - to make that point? Perhaps.
*spoilers? Seriously, are you even paying attention to this review?