"It's really a very simple story. What happened was this: I met this girl and did a very stupid thing. I fell in love. Hard. I know that to some people that makes me an idiot and a loser. What can I say? They're right. I did some extremely foolish things; I'm the first to say it. And they've left me in jail and alone."
So begins one of the most compelling, emotionally charged, and affecting novels you are likely to read this year.
Since the election of Trump, joy is elusive. "Dread" is in the air, not joy.
Carrying on as if nothing is wrong is part of the problem. But what shall we do?
He hasn't taken office yet and has made a number of huge mistakes. Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development?? What an insult – on so many levels. And it's not just a gesture: Trump's decisions will hurt real people. Watch.
What will become "normal?" Trump is an amateur and will make blunder after blunder. The consequences of just one of these blunders could be catastrophic.
But is all joy suspended? With all this uncertainty in the air, the feeling of joy is certainly a mixed affair.
I wonder if I'll look back to 2016 as "the last year before the Real Craziness began." If that's the case, let me celebrate some good things about my 2016, which was a pretty great year for me.
BEST READING: SVETLANA ALEXIEVICH
This year I read three books by 2015 Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich – SECONDHAND TIME, CHERNOBYL PRAYERS, and ZINKY BOYS.
And I cannot wait for her other two books to appear in English: THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR: An Oral History of World War II (her first book) and THE LAST WITNESSES: The Book of Unchildlike Stories (personal memories of children during wartime).
Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature based on only five books for a very good reason: these are GREAT books. Especially SECONDHAND TIME, which is an enormous, Tolstoyan achievement. Reading it not only makes you understand Russians better; it makes you understand the human race better. I can think of no higher praise for a work of art.
Watch my award-winning short film Lunch With Louie
everyday THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ... a nice long biography of ELIZABETH I ... the new New Yorker and the new New York Review of Books
Deezer! ...Howard Stern and Thom Hartmann always... lots of COSI, lots of KEITH JARRETT ... ... too much Pandora (lots of Chopin) ... and tons of Van the Man ... and Sturgill Simpsonand Emmylou Harris and Gillian Welch!
As much news as I can stomach ... Rick Steves' Europe and SEINFELD(comfort watching) ... Turner Classic Movies... and the struggles of the Lakers and Clippers