This is annotations, a newsletter in which I annotate a story every [redacted], and also read and write other stuff.
I took a break from this newsletter the last couple of months. (No excuses, except: I was tired. I feel better now.) annotations will be back in 2020 at a slightly more unpredictable (sorry, “varied”) pace, and maybe with slightly more experimental (sorry, “cross-disciplinary”) content that still broadly relates to writing and reading and media and storytelling.
“best” “of” “2019”
I read, listened to, and watched a lot of stories this year. These are the ones that have stuck with me, for some reason or another, throughout 2019:
“Heaven or High Water” aka that time Sarah Miller went to Miami. [Popula]
Emma Hunsinger’s cartoon on how to draw a horse. [The New Yorker]
“Such Perfection,” a really achingly exquisite personal essay by Chloé Cooper Jones. [The Believer]
“The Real Problem With Paula Deen,” an excerpt from Lauren Michele Jackson’s book White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… And Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation. [Eater]
The Voyages Issue, a delight. [NYT Mag]
Kyle Chayka on Iceland, algorithms, tourism, and authenticity. [Vox] (Plus, his recent dissection of monoculture in the age of algorithms—a lot of interesting points to think about, still processing it.)
Absolutely top-tier luxe longform gossip: “What’s Left of Condé Nast” by Reeves Wiedeman. [Intelligencer]
Profiles I liked: Adam Green on mentalist/magician/performer Derren Brown, Jiayang Fan on actress Constance Wu. [both TNY]
Listen: “‘The Only Memory I Had Was Getting Into the Car’” by Irin Carmon and Olivia Natt. [The Cut on Tuesdays, a wonderful podcast that I’m very sad has ended]
some annotations highlights this year:
most useful writing notes from 2019
i have stuff, too, sorry!
If there’s one thing of mine that you will read this year, it should be “The Rise (and Stall) of the Boba Generation,” a sprawling (and characteristically ambivalent, I think) exploration of bubble tea and its historical and cultural context, particularly among Asian Americans. It is the only piece I will write for a long time that is pretty good and that matters, so I hereby preemptively retire from this profession, thanks!
I recently contributed to some roundups: 1) The Goods/Vox on the brands we lost in the past decade (my bit is about Payless, but also about growing up, go figure!!!), and 2) The Morning News on the most and least important things that happened in 2019 (least: Game of Thrones).
Finally, I’m a judge for The Morning News’ 2020 Tournament of Books, so feel free to follow along and validate or eviscerate me for my picks, I don’t care. (I do care, I would prefer nice words!!)
Happy New Year! Here’s to… 2020……… 🥴