issue 40: January - February 2004 

Readers Poll Best/Worst of 2003READERS’ POLL RESULTS 2003

Last issue TBR asked readers to let us know what in their opinion comprised the best and worst of books, film, music and theater for the year 2003. Because release dates vary from country to country, and paperbacks lag a year behind hardbacks, the replies dip back slightly further than last year, but all are quite contemporary, and in some cases titles may not even be available as yet - the Gus van Sant film Elephant, for example, has been in Spain for some time, but will not open in the U.K. until January 30th.

Any generalizations to be made about TBR readers? They clearly haven’t missed a lot of the good stuff, but in a word the offerings are diverse. Nicely so. And often equally opposing: Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary and Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1, got about equal votes for being the "best of" and "biggest disappointment." Theater-goers they are not; in fact, the only mention we got of theater came from Barcelona. We’d also asked readers to include their country and one thing was apparent from this: the U.K. readers voted for U.K. authors - Dan Rhodes and Mark Haddon, for example - while the U.S. favored their own, such as Palahniuk and Jeffrey Eugenides. Undoubtedly the result of heavier publicity in the author’s native country. Canadian writers Atwood and Yann Martel bridged the gap.

Musically, a round-up of the usual suspects, with several readers from Spain especially enthusiastic about Lagrimas Negras by Bebo Valdes and Deigo "El Cigala." (No, I haven’t heard it yet, but look forward to.)

We also asked what advice readers might want to offer to a specific world leader or leaders, and here we did find common ground: they all, bar none, lean to the left - or at least are stronlgy anti-Bush/Blair/Aznar - as is also evident in the number of readers who love Michael Moore. Lots of expletives in the messages and too many to record, but one from Elena del Rio in Switzerland, addressed to all world leaders, summed up the general message: "Maybe we should all calm down a bit."

We hope you enjoy perusing the list - all dutifully recorded - and might find something new to peak your interest. Herewith are the results:

In the BEST BOOK category, these each received more than twenty votes:


Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Diary by Chuck Palahniuk (which also gathered as many votes for the ‘biggest disappointment’)
Timoleon Vieta Come Home by Dan Rhodes
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre
Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo
The Russian Debutante’s Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Lost Nation by Jeffrey Lent
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Atonement by Ian McEwan


Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Dude, Where’s My Country by Michael Moore
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken

Other favorites, with one to six votes: fiction and non-fiction:

Granta - Best of Young British Novelists 2003
The Light of Day
by Graham Swift
Drop City by T.S. Boyle
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Papa est au Pantheón by Alix de Saint-André
Things You Should Know by A.M. Homes (stories)
Property by Valerie Martin
The In-Between World of Vikram Lall by M.G. Vassanji
Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins
Glory Goes and Gets Some by Emily Carter
Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
It Happened in Boston? by Russell H. Greenan (first printed in 1968; re-released in 2003)
Age of Iron by J.M.Coetzee
The Cadence of Grass by Thomas McGuane
Buddha Da by Anne Donovan
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
l gel de bany sobre l'esponja by E. Illas (Catalan)
A Life Without Consequences by Stephen Elliott
The Clearing by Tim Gautreaux
You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett (stories)
Una buena temporada by Javier Cercas
Al Queda and What It Means To Be by John Gray
Johnny Cash: The Life of an American Icon by Stephen Miller

Books: Honorable Mention

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Bay of Souls by Robert Stone
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Wild Boy by Jill Dawson
The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa
Massa cafè by Manel Zabala Sánchez
Pulling Taffy by Matt Bernstein Sycamore
The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
Encyclopaedia of Snow by Sarah Emily Miano
Johnny Come Home by Dean Durber
The Cutting Room by Louise Welch
Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus (stories)
Americana by Don DeLillo
The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis
The Secret Life of Cowboys by Tom Groneberg
La Gestion del Talento Humano by Chiavenato

Books that Disappointed:

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
Love by Toni Morrison
Trading Up by Candace Bushnell
The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard
Frankie and Stankie by Barbara Trapido
The Unprofessionals by Julia Hecht
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Déjame que te cuente by Jorge Bucay
El harpista ciego by Terenci Moix
You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers
The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster
Loot: And Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Favorite Book Cover:

Timoleon Vieta Come Home by Dan Rhodes; Canongate Books, U.K.
Women in Their Beds by Gina Berrault (no edition given)
Diary by Chuck Palahniuk; paperback cover, U.S.
The Secret Life of Cowboys by Tom Groneberg (no edition given)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (no edition given)

Favorite TBR story of 2003:

"WLUV" by Emily Carter
"First Day She’d Never See" by Jesse Shepard
"Who I Was Supposed To Be" by H.A. Fleming
"Una trumpeta lejana" by Antoni Padilla (Spanish only)

Best Films of 2003:

Kill Bill: Vol. I directed by Quentin Tarantino (received equal number of votes for "biggest disappointment")
City of God dir. by Fernando Meielles
Soldados de Salamina dir. by David Trueba
Good Bye, Lenin! dir. by Wolfgang Becker
Elephant dir. by Gus van Sant
Spun dir. by Jonas Akerlund
Laurel Canyon dir. by Lisa Cholodenko
The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute
Carmen dir. by Vincente Aranda
Dark Water by Hideo Nakata
28 Days Later dir. by Danny Boyle
Dogville dir. by Lars von Trier
Bowling for Columbine dir. by Michael Moore
Talk to Her dir. by Pedro Almodóvar
Mulholland Drive dir. by David Lynch
24 Hour Party People dir. by Michael Winterbottom
Thirteen dir. by Catherine Hardwicke
Mystic River dir. by Clint Eastwood
Donnie Darko dir. by Richard Kelly
My Life Without Me dir. by Isabel Coixet
Madame Satá dir. by Karim Ainouz
Bad Santa dir. by Terry Zwigoff (reader comment: Finally, a real Christmas Story!)
Russian Ark dir. by Alexander Sokurov
The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat) dir. by Zacharias Kunuk

Honorable Mention:

Lunes al Sol dir. by Fernando León de Aranoa
25th Hour by Spike Lee
Pirates of the Caribbean dir. by Jerry Bruckheimer
The Man of the Year dir. by José Enrique Fonseca
Mystic River dir. by Clint Eastwood
Whale Rider dir. by Niki Caro
Osama dir. by Siddiq Barmak
The Pledge dir. by Sean Penn
Chicago dir. by Rob Marshall
The Last Waltz Redux dir. by Stephen Altobello
Master and Commander dir. by Peter Weir
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King dir. by Peter Jackson

Duds and Disappointments:

Kill Bill: Vol. I dir. by Quentin Tarantino
The Matrix Revolutions dir. by Andy and Larry Wachowski
Adaptation dir. by Spike Jonze
Gigli dir. by Martin Brest
Mona Lisa Smile dir. by Mike Newell
Love Actually dir. by Richard Curtis
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 dir. by Marcus Nispel
The Human Stain dir. by Robert Benton

Best theater of 2003:
Closer (Apropa't) - dir. by Tamzin Townsend, Teatre Villarroel, Barcelona
XXX - La Fura dels Baus - Trivoli, Barcelona
Això no és mi vida - Teatre Poliorama, Barcelona
Primera plana - Teatre Nacional, Barcelona
Los monólogos de la vagina - Club Capital, Barcelona
Do'm - Enric Cassasses, Sala Beckett, Barcelona
The Tempest - 12X12, dir. by James Attridge, Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona
The Tragedian - English Theatre Barcelona, Teatreneu, Barcelona
Favorite Album of 2003:

Kraftwerk - Tour de France: Soundtracks
Shelby Lynne - Identity Crisis
The Handsome Family - Singing Bones
The Zillionaire Retarded Speeds... - Function
Ruben Stoddard (no title given)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 Soundtrack
Lost in Translation Soundtrack
Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
Paul Westerberg - Come Feel Me Tremble
Bic Runga - Beautiful Collision
The White Stripes - Elephant
Colder - Again
Fleetwood Mac - Say You Will
Marvin Pontiac (no title given)
Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around
American Life - Madonna
Belle and Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Bebo Valdes and Diego "El Cigala" - Lagrimas Negras

Best concert:

Dylan (no location given)
Sheryl Crow (no location given)
Neil Young (no location given)
Michael Camilo (no location given)
Dexys Midnight Runners, Royal Festival Hall, London, Nov. 2003
Robbie Williams, Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, 2003
Bebo Valdes and Diego "El Cigala", Mallorca, Spain, June 2003

Best Music Video:

OutKast - Hey Ya
Johnny Cash - Hurt
Beyonce - Crazy in Love

Biggest Hype of the year:

Liz Phair - Liz Phair
Lucinda Williams - World Without Tears
Kid Rock

© TBR 2004

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issue 40: January - February 2004  

Short Fiction

Mary Woronov: George and Shoe Store
Leelila Strogov: Fatso
Simmone Howell: Golden
Connla Stokes: The Splurgy Shore
picks from back issues
Lynn Coady: Jesus Christ, Murdeena
Pedro Juan Gutiérrez: Buried in Shit
and Stars and Losers


Manuel Vázquez Montalbán: 1939 – 2003
The man and his work
Two reviews
: An Olympic Death
and The Buenos Aires Quintet


Ilan Stavans


John Steinbeck
answers to last issue’s 18th-Century English Literature

Readers' Poll

Readers’ Poll Results - Best/Worst of 2003

Book Reviews

Demonized and The Devil in Me by Christopher Fowler
The Epicure’s Lament by Kate Christensen
Blind Love by Mary Woronov
Lizard Dreaming of Birds by John Gist
Dreamland by Newton Thornburg

Regular Features

Book Reviews (all issues)
TBR Archives (authors listed alphabetically)

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