Brian Paone

Author // Musician

Year in Review: books, music, movies

Let's talk books, music, and movies ...

First, let's get the shameless self promotion out of the way first with my two 2017 releases as an author: releasing a new novel is a big deal for an author. Heck, I consider myself a professional author (meaning I make a small, viable living from sales), and this year I only released my fourth novel in ten years (that's considered a small amount by industry standards) titled Moonlight City Drive. However, it was the first time where I had a proper book release party (in Cleveland at the Agora Ballroom during the big Dog Fashion Disco weekend) and the first time a book of mine came with merchandise (a campfire mug, a shot glass, and two matchbooks). It seems each book release becomes more and more of a spectacle, and initial sales (first 30 days of release) exponentially have grown with each release. I also had my third published short story of my career, "Anesthetize (or A Dream Played in Reverse on Piano Keys)," become available to the world in the anthology A Haunting of Words.

Now that I've plugged my own material, let's move on to what I thought were the #1 best releases in books, music, and movies this year.

Music - Hands down, the best album of 2017 for me was Roger Waters' Is This the Life We Really Want? This is one of those picks where I did NOT choose just because I am obsessed with Waters and biased and worship every note and lyric he writes ... in fact, just the opposite. I am such a Pink Floyd and Waters solo fan that I was truly terrified for months (yes, months. I even laid in bed some night petrified that the album wasn't going to be up my standards in what I love about his music: the tyrannical lyrics, the militant musicianship, the layers of samples and overdub vocals etc ...) about listening to this album. I even had convinced myself at one point, while I drove around listening to Pros & Cons of Hitchhiking, Radio KAOS, and Amused to Death, that the new album was going to fall so short from what I loved about those album that I would despise it and my whole 35-year fandom of Waters' music would come crashing down with a single collection of songs. Heck, it had been 25 years since his last proper album (not including the random song here and there he has released over the past two decades). I got myself so worked up and nervous about this new album that on midnight of June 2 (release day) when the album was automatically (through pre-order) downloaded to my iTunes and I placed my headphones over my ears and pressed Play, I burst into tears within the first 90 seconds of the start of the album. It was like waiting 25 years to meet someone for the first time that you idolized but were convinced meting them in person was going to disappoint you. Sure of it, even. This album not only blew me away, but met all my high expectations ... and then some. Not only was it not a let down (which I had SO convinced myself it was going to be), but it even ranks higher in my personal favorite Waters album list than some of his "classic" albums. Sounding like a cross between Pink Floyd's Animals, Wish You Were Here, and The Final Cut along with his own Amused to Death album, this is why it's the best album of 2017.

Book - The best book I read this year was published in 2004 (unfortunately, I did not read anything that came out in 2017; I spent the year reading older books I had always wanted to read). It's that often that book gives me a sick feeling in my stomach and NEVER has a book left me with emotional PTSD, but Generation Kill by Evan Wright wormed its way so far into my psyche while I was reading it that I started having terrible nightmares and spent moments during the day reflecting on some of the passages I had read. This went so far as me needing to discuss the book with Stephanie because I felt if I couldn't talk about how I was feeling about it, I might just breakdown and cry. Generation Kill really got under my skin, laid eggs, and hatched a new breed of distress for me that I don't remember having while reading a book before. The atrocities of war, told in first person POV, about the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 was made more real due to the fact that the reader starts to feel like they know these marines personally, well enough to start calling them friends. So when the shit hits the fan, you literally feel like you are reading a letter written TO YOU from a family member about these events as if they are happening RIGHT NOW (not to complete strangers, fifteen years ago.)

Movie - Star Wars is my favorite movie(s) of all time, and Stephen King is my favorite author of all time, so you'd think at least one movie between The Last Jedi or the slew of King movies that came out this year: The Dark Tower, It, Gerald's Game etc would be #1. But honestly, I have to say Wonder Woman was my favorite film of the year. Don't get me wrong, I loved The Last Jedi and I thought It and The Dark Tower were absolutely fantastic, but Wonder Woman worked on so many different levels. I've been a WW fan since I was a kid with the old TV show so I feel like I have been waiting for a proper Hollywood blockbuster all my life. And the script and special effects were brilliantly done. The action sequences rivaled anything in the Marvel universe (I'm not a big Marvel fan) and sitting next to Analise in the theater and watching her eyes grow big as she saw a female lead superhero on the screen was magical for me as a father. I even got a WW umbrella for Father's Day this year, and I will protect myself from falling precipitation with pride when that logo is fully extended over my head.

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