Choosing my favourite novel I read this year is easy - it's David Peace's The Damned United, a fictionalised account of Brian Clough's tumultous 44-day reign as Leeds United manager. Clough is obviously a fantastic ready-made protagonist, but Peace's skill is to make the reader love him, hate him, respect him, pity him... all at the same time. It's brilliantly written, and the structure is really inventive. The Times called it 'probably the best novel ever written about sport' and it's hard to disagree with that.
In my opinion, 2007 has been the worst year in living memory for new films. The Bourne Ultimatum was the only decent thing to come out of Hollywood, but my pick of the year came out of Germany. The Lives of Others is about a Stasi spy who is drawn into the lives of a couple he is ordered to monitor. It's gripping and fascinating, and there's a brilliant central performance from Ulrich Muhe, who sadly died in July. The ending is just perfect, and the final line is sure to bring a tear to the eye.
Finally a CD pick and, after honorable mentions for Kate Walsh's Tim's House and Josh Rouse's Country Mouse, I'm plumping for Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther. I know it has been around for a while, but it only really took off this year. It's difficult to describe - ambitious 60s and 70s-flavoured melodic indie pop with narrative lyrics that tell tales of ancient or post-apocalyptic bandits, kind of a cross between classic Fleetwood Mac and Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds... Actually that makes it sound really rubbish, you'll just have to trust me that it isn't!
Have a great Christmas and a happy New Year.
Why I wrote Disraeli Avenue for charity
3 years ago