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  • Ken Ilgunas

The Best Stuff I Consumed - 2023



Movies

 

It was a fruitful movie-watching year for me, partly because I had a lot of long flights on United Airlines, which has a surprisingly terrific film selection. Plus, my Cinema Paradiso and MUBI subscriptions always have an enticing offering. The only "A" I gave out this year was to Paul Newman's The Verdict, but Aftersun is the one I'll never forget.

 

Aftersun (2022, Scotland)

Red Rocket (2021, USA)

The Florida Project (2017, USA)

Past Lives (2023, South Korea, USA)

Daughters of the Dust (1991, USA)

Eastern Promises (2007, USA)

Stories We Tell (2012, Canada)

The Verdict (1982, USA)

Andrey Zvyagintsev's Russian films [Elena (2011), The Return (2003), Leviathan (2014), and Loveless (2017), Russia]

The Quiet Girl (2022, Ireland)

Paterson (2016, multiple)

The Big Chill (1983, USA)

 

Audiobooks

 

I'm not sure if this is a hot-take, but I would hold up Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell trilogy alongside some of the other great and epically-long stories of the last hundred years, whether it's LotR or the Game of Thrones books. There is so much drama, history, and psychological insight packed into those novels. I cannot recommend the audiobook experience more. Ben Miles's voice brings so many (and there are many) characters to life.

 

The Killer Angels (1974, USA)

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy (2009-2020, UK)

 

TV

 

The Bear (Season 2)

Poldark (the 1975 version)

 

Books

 

I read more for research than pleasure this year, so my recommended books list is thin. I returned to a few favorites that, to me, have stood the test of time.

 

LoTR

Pride and Prejudice

Freedom




Christmas Book sale

 

For American readers, I've held a little Xmas sale this past week over my social media accounts. I was delighted to make over 20 sales and disencumber myself of about 50 books. I thought I'd extend the same offer to blog readers.

 

If you want to get a last-minute order in, and for the package to arrive in time, please send me an email asap. I'll be happy to personalize as you like.

 

Walden on Wheels - $15

Trespassing across America - $15 (hardcover $20)

This Land Is Our Land - $15

McCandless Mecca - $7

Walden on Wheels (CDs or MP3) - $10

 

If you buy four, you get $5 off of total. Transactions can be made using Zelle, Venmo, PayPal, or by check. Postage varies per order.




A Year in Review - 2023

 

2023 is the year I turned 40. The age-change is arbitrary, but I think I'll look back on 2023 as a significant year, largely because it was the year I finally got fed up with being a writer/speaker. (I embrace the vocation, but can't bear the unstable and stressful finances.) This all had me contemplating a mid-life career pivot (which hasn't happened but probably will).

 

2023 is also the year when my "Alone" reality TV show dream died, which mercifully brought me some clarity of mission. My daughter is four and our house ("shabby abbey") grows less shabby by the year. I put some more roots into Scottish soil, literally and figuratively. My town has built a new train station. My softball team improved and ball hockey team regressed. My health has been without flaw except for poor nasal breathing. (I breathlessly await my appointment for an NHS-sponsored septoplasty.)

 

I finished a draft of my memoir Out of the Wild, which contains some of the funniest and most insightful lines I've written. It's the tonal sequel to Walden on Wheels, even if OotW's theme is more about relationships than career & finance. This was my third year of work on it, so it was mostly a labor of creative editing, which is the best sort of literary labor. It hasn't yet been shopped to publishers, so no news there.

 

And even though I sort of want out of the literary life, at the last minute I got an idea for a polemical book that would be an easy sell. I get a handful of book ideas every year. It isn't clear to me if what I have is a "real thing" or just a passing whim.

 

2023 is the year I told the world. "You won. I need a real job." Yet, with a completed draft and a new idea, it remains to be seen if 2024 is the year I put this resolution into action.

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