Steve Thorngate's Christmas picks

November 28, 2016

Lee Hull Moses’s More Than Enough (Westminster John Knox) weaves personal writing with broader considerations of our lives as creatures, consumers, and children of God. It’s a short book on big themes, but never shallow—it’s carried by Moses’s deft synthesis and spare prose. A good rejoinder to the perennial argument that first-person reflection has no place in serious, longer-form writing.

I rarely find the time to write anything much longer than this list, but when I do I use Scrivener (literatureandlatte.com). This writing app encourages structural thinking, with drag-and-drop outlining you can flesh out whenever; it also stores notes and research for quick reference. A powerful tool for projects with a lot of moving parts.

For instance: a script to pitch for Pitch (Fox, Hulu, iTunes). As a baseball fan and a parent of daughters, you bet I’m watching this new show about the glass ceiling in the big leagues. While Pitch sometimes whiffs when it takes on too many subjects, it pretty much nails the gender politics and the baseball. That’s enough for me to forgive the rest—except maybe the jokes, those tepid attempts to morph from drama to dramedy. Not every show has to be The West Wing.

While I’m policing genres, the weird thing about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize isn’t that it honors his words but that it considers them apart from his music. So I’m including John Corigliano’s song cycle Mr. Tambourine Man (Naxos) mostly as a timely curiosity. The Ameri­can composer took several well-known Dylan “poems” and set them for soprano and piano—without having heard the original songs. The result is fascinating and bizarre, essential listening both for Dylan completists and for those who like him only for his words.

Read the other 2016 Christmas picks here.

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