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As a new decade beckons, I’m deeply worried about the way our world seems to be heading. As W.H. Auden wrote on ‘September 1, 1939‘ (a poem deemed so prescient he tried to bury it …)

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade…

“Rereading a poem of mine,” Auden wrote later, “after it had been published I came to the line ‘We must love one another or die’ and said to myself: ‘That’s a damned lie! We must die anyway.’ So, in the next edition, I altered it to ‘We must love one another and die.’ This didn’t seem to do either, so I cut the stanza. Still no good. The whole poem, I realized, was infected with an incurable dishonesty – and must be scrapped.”

Here in the UK, we now enter the tenth year of a hardline Tory government bent on austerity. Now, nearly four years after a corrosive referendum, they have been re-elected. Personally, I’ve had good times and some very bad times. Yet we’re surviving, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing my children grow into young men. I’ve also been encouraged by the resurgence of the left and despite everything, I hope better days are still to come.

I’ve been blessed with collaborators like Eric Woodard (on our book, Jeanne Eagels: A Life Revealed), Jeremy Richey (editor of Art Decades and Soledad Arts Journal), Fionn Wilson (Dear Christine), and Marcelline Block (Fan Phenomena: Marilyn Monroe.)

ES Updates, my sister blog about Marilyn Monroe, is now in its tenth year. (Read all the 2019 highlights here.)

And now, onto my favourites. I would have to say that Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, published in 2013, has inspired me more than any other book from this decade. Other highlights: Visions of Isobel Gowdie by Emma Wilby, and Fragments by Marilyn Monroe (2010); MM – Personal by Lois Banner, and Purge by Sofi Oksanen (2011); Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, and My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2012); The Girls by Emma Cline (2016), and The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (2016); and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (2018.) More picks here.

Musically, my decade was dominated by Lana Del Rey; my favourite track is ‘Video Games‘ (2011), and my favourite album is Ultraviolence (2014.) Among other albums I’ve enjoyed, Flesh Tone by Kelis (2010); Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li, Blood Pressures by The Kills, and Lioness by Amy Winehouse (2011); Born to Die (and Paradise) by Lana Del Rey, MDNA by Madonna, The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit, and Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes (2012); The Stand-In by Caitlin Rose, Seasons Of Your Day by Mazzy Star, and foreverly by Billie Joe + Norah (2013); I Never Learn by Lykke Li (2014); Rebel Heart by Madonna, and Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey (2015); My Wild West by Lissie (2016); The Navigator by Hurray For The Riff Raff, Lust for Life by Lana Del Rey, and All Nerve by The Breeders (2017); El Mal Querer by Rosalía (2018); Madame X by Madonna, and Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey (2019.) More picks here.

My favourite TV show was Twin Peaks: The Return. I also loved This Is England, the first seasons of Top of the Lake and True Detective; Show Me a Hero, Ozark, and The Virtues. More picks here.

My favourite film of this decade was James Gray’s criminally neglected The Immigrant (2013), starring Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. Others on my list: True Grit, Meek’s Cutoff, and Winter’s Bone (2010); Ginger and Rosa (2012); Nebraska and Enough Said (2013); A Most Violent Year, Low Down, and Catch Me Daddy (2014); American Honey, and I, Daniel Blake (2016); The Florida Project (2017); Shoplifters, The Nightingale and Transit (2018.)

And finally, thanks to all my friends, family and especially my husband Andy for putting up with me all these years! Wishing everyone health and happiness in 2020.