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Top Ten

10 Best Books: Michael Anft

Top Ten 2000

The Year in News 1. We Have a Winner?Our annual listing of all that's most fit to print is usually an exercise in... | By Michael Anft

All the News Not Fit to Print The Year in Non-News

The Year in Film Science-fiction author Theodore Sturgeon once fashioned a maxim about the genre that came to be... | By Ian Grey

10 Best Films: Ian Grey 1Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, United States) Four very different souls go to Consumer... | By Ian Grey

10 Best Films: Heather Joslyn 1Chicken Run (Peter Lord and Nick Park, United Kingdom/United States)* A thrilling, inspirational... | By Heather Joslyn

10 Best Films: Luisa F. Ribiero 1Urbania (Jon Shear, United States) This kinetic, provocative tale of a catastrophic day in the... | By Luisa F. Ribeiro

The 10 Most Annoying Things About Music in 2000 . . . 1Lists As a dyed-in-the-wool, former-record-store-clerk music geek, I love a good list as much as... | By Lee Gardner

. . . and the 10 Best 1D'Angelo, Voodoo (Virgin) Sure, better songs would have been nice. | By Lee Gardner

10 Best Albums: Rjyan Kidwell 1Outkast, Stankonia (Arista/LaFace) Outkast knows precisely when to throw you a curve ball and when... | By Rjyan Kidwell

10 Best Albums: Daniel Piotrowski 1Modest Mouse, The Moon and Antarctica (Epic) Although it is by no means a departure for the... | By Daniel Piotrowski

10 Best Albums: Vincent Williams 1Jill Scott, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. | By Vincent Williams

10 Best Albums: John Lewis 1Otha Turner and the Afrossippi Allstars, From Senegal To Senatobia (Birdman) A trio of African... | By John Lewis


The Year in Books Like many wannabe serious writers, I've long felt the need to visit Paris. | By Eileen Murphy

10 Best Books: Michael Anft Plowing the Dark, by Richard Powers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Split between the heady digital… | By Michael Anft

10 Best Books: Mahinder Kingra 1Tulipomania, by Mike Dash (Crown) An elegant and entertaining work of popular history that... | By Mahinder Kingra

10 Best Books: Eileen Murphy 1The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday) Atwood hasn't abandoned her... | By Eileen Murphy

The Year in Theater FIVE SCRIBES, 10 SHOWS-- CITY PAPER THEATER CRITICS MICHAEL ANFT, ANNA DITKOFF, MIKE GIULIANO,... | By Michael Anft, Anna Ditkoff, Mike Giuliano, Brennen Jensen and Jack Purdy

The Year in Art 1Noble Dreams, Wicked Pleasures: Orientalism in America, 1870-1930, Walters Art Museum There were... | By Mike Giuliano

10 Best Albums: John Lewis 1Otha Turner and the Afrossippi Allstars, From Senegal To Senatobia (Birdman) A trio of African drum... | By John Lewis

By Michael Anft | Posted 12/20/2000

Plowing the Dark, by Richard Powers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Split between the heady digital happenings in Puget Sound and the brutality of the Middle East, Powers' meditation on the imagination magically bridges the chasm between the lives of a virtual artist and a hostage in Beirut. Dark is a richly envisioned and intellectually unreproachable examination of what Powers calls "the crisis of representation."

Vertigo, by W.G. Sebald (New Directions) Dark meditations on alienation, psychic pain, and the fallibility of memory are what we've come to expect from the German-lost-in-England Sebald (The Rings of Saturn). This surreal, hauntingly beautiful semi-autobiographical tale showcases the author's grasp of literary allusions and the bleakness of the human condition.

From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1800 to the Present, by Jacques Barzun (HarperTrade) The culmination of nonagenarian Barzun's brilliant career is as provocative as it is instructive. Barzun's book-closing prologue grants us an idea of pratfalls to avoid in the future--using history as a guide, of course.

Fat of the Land: The Garbage Behind New York--the Last 200 Years, by Benjamin Miller, (Four Walls Eight Windows) Miller, a former New York sanitation official, turns an incomprehensible mound of solid waste into a compelling social history of Gotham's last 200 years.

The New City: A Novel, by Stephen Amidon (Doubleday) Based on James Rouse's Columbia, Amidon's fictional "Newton, Maryland" becomes the backdrop for an intertwining tale of racial division, broken spirits, and a failed Utopian vision--a fitting allegory for turn-of-the-millennium America.

In Pursuit of Happiness: Better Living from Plato to Prozac, by Mark Kingwell (Crown) Helpful but far from "self-help," Happiness explores the history of the existential dangling carrot. Philosopher/author Kingwell writes with wit, concluding that consistent examination of desires is as important as trying to achieve some of them.

Monkey Beach, by Eden Robinson, (Houghton Mifflin) A quasi-exotic first novel set amid the Haisla Indian community of the Canadian west coast, Monkey Beach blends magical realism and tales of a traditional culture with the accommodations it makes with the world writ large--as seen through the eyes of a tough-as-nails young heroine.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers (Simon & Schuster, Co.) Eggers' huge ego and his seeming dismissal of his sister's efforts to help him raise their orphaned young brother notwithstanding, this anti-memoir is both moving and self-consciously hilarious. Eggers' refusal to manipulate readers' heartstrings raises Genius far above the usual soul-baring standard.

Stories That Changed America: Muckrakers of the 20th Century, edited by Carl Jensen (Seven Stories Press) For hard-core journo freaks, it doesn't get any better than this: Seminal, earth-shaking investigative pieces by everyone from Ida Mae Tarbell to Rachel Carson to I.F. Stone to Woodward and Bernstein, with decent analysis by editor Jensen.

Master of the Crossroads, by Madison Smartt Bell (Pantheon books) The middle leg of Bell's planned trilogy on the Haitian slave revolt of 1790s charts the rise to power of its leader, the legendary Toussaint L'ouverture. As with All Souls Rising, this is history as it should be fictionalized--with dead-on analysis and compelling characterizations.

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Top Ten archives

More Stories

The Year In Tracks (12/15/2009)
. . . just in the case the album really is dead.

The Year in News (12/9/2009)

The Year in Movies (12/9/2009)

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