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THE BEST OF 2017...

Aim High, more often
Year-end Best of lists are invidious, and, also, these days, ubiquitous, to the point of madness. But we have loved them for years... so...

In the spirit of austerity and limiting resource-expenditure, Eyewear, the blog, this year will focus on the TOP ONE of various categories. Note we cannot claim to have seen or read everything, including The Post, or Lady Bird, which may end up winning the Oscar in 2018.

So here goes.

(we have not included our Eyewear books; nor have we included books of poetry, that may follow in 2018)


1. The Transition - novel by Luke Kennard
Oddly overlooked by some, this brilliant mock-dystopian millennial epic was both brilliantly funny, and insightful, and the debut of one of the UK's best-known younger poets.

A great British comic novel, easily comparable in laughs per page to Lucky Jim.


1. Good Time 
If this was a longer list, we'd have room for Bladerunner 2049, The Levelling, Girl's Trip, Logan, Get Out and grindhouse thriller Brawl In Cell Block 99 (the best and surely most violent Vince Vaughn film of all time). The Last Jedi was also superb. The much-maligned The Snowman far more intriguing than described.

As it is, we have to stick to this gritty, and utterly compelling cinematic tour-de-force by the young Safdie Brothers.

Robert Pattinson gives a superb performance as a troubled young New York hoodlum who enlists his brother, with severe learning difficulties, in a botched bank heist. Tense, powerfully humane, comic and tragic, the first five minutes are among the best-edited ever in a film, combining pathos and horror with impeccable skill.


1. The Good Doctor
There was so much good time-filling TV this year, it wasn't funny, not least the current Howards End.

A year that saw Twin Peaks, Star Trek, Stranger Things, and Prison Break return, as well as the bravura work of Taboo, Homeland, House of Cards, Fortitude, Big Little Lies, The Affair, and Halt and Catch Fire, and indeed the movie-worthy season of Game of Thrones, is surely to be considered a new golden-age.

Nonetheless, no new show on a major network has been this good since The West Wing - it was funny, thrilling, deeply moving, and powerfully compassionate, and its central character, the neurodivergent savant, Dr Shaun Murphy, played by the loveable and agile Freddie Highmore, is a new benchmark in TV characters. The ensemble cast was also beautifully diverse, and unexpectedly intriguing.


1. Slowdive, by Slowdive
The music this year was amazing, with brilliant new work from Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Perfume Genius, Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Holy Holy, Wolf Alice, Fleet Foxes, Depeche Mode, Lana del Rey, SleaFord Mods, The Jesus and Mary Chain, U2, hell, even Cheap Trick had a good new album.

But you will not find a better, more hauntingly-beautiful album than this one, by past-masters of the dream-pop show-gaze genre, whose heyday was over 22 years ago. A comeback so generously lovely as to be a true gift.

So there you have it - hardly definitive, to be sure. But enough here for any Christmas list.


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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.