Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tom Vowler Blog Tour - Top Ten Books and Films

This week sees Tom Vowler on a blog tour  and today he visits us to tell us of his top ten films and books. Tom is the author of What Lies Within and The Dark Remembered Day of which Maryom said "It's very much a page-turner of a read... once things are put in place, they proceed with the same unstoppable force as a boulder rolling downhill." It's also nice to see favourites of ours amongst his lists.

Of course, any such list, aside from being gloriously subjective, merely draws attention to its omissions. It was impossibly hard to get down to ten, both for films and books, so to keep it manageable I focused on stuff I’ve watched and read in the last decade or so. But, yes, I hate myself for not finding room for such gems as Sideways or Adaptation et al. 

Top Ten Films

21 Grams
I could have chosen any of Mexican director Iñárritu’s films, but Penn, Watts and Del Toro are superb in this chronologically fragmented masterpiece of lives crushed by a moment’s tragedy, the title coming from the supposed loss of weight upon death, suggestive of a soul were it not a scientific apocryphal tale.

No Country for Old Men
Violent noir thriller adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s book. Who can forget Javier Bardem’s cattle gun? Brilliantly shot.

Luc Besson’s intensely beautiful tale, with Jean Reno’s finest role as The Cleaner and a precocious Natalie Portman learning the rigours of a hit man, which apparently includes drinking lots of milk.

Now-vintage comedy crime noir from the inimitable Coen brothers.

Dead Man
Unforgettable, stylish outing from Jim Jarmusch. Worth it for Neil Young’s haunting soundtrack alone. Great cast.

The Lives of Others
Remarkably affecting film of a Stasi agent’s moral awakening. Cinema at its finest.

The Usual Suspects
Crime thriller with so many great performances from emerging talent. The final scene in the police station has rightly become iconic.

Withnail and I
‘We’ve come on holiday by mistake.’ Uniquely brilliant.

Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight
See how I snuck 3 into 1 here? This poignant romantic trilogy invests the viewer so deeply in Celine and Jesse’s lives. Beautifully shot, exquisite dialogue. Quiet and powerful.

Let the Right One In
Elegant art-house Swedish vampire tale of love and revenge. As ever, avoid the US remake.

Top Ten Books

The Secret History – Donna Tartt
Epic, elegant and cerebral tale of morality among a group of classics students.

Goat Mountain – David Vann
Astonishing book, which I reviewed here.

Julius Winsome – Gerard Donovan
Classic story of unhinging and revenge set in the wintry wilds of Maine. Taut and brilliant.

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
A ballsy book, original and brave, the antithesis to formulaic guff.

The Beautiful Indifference – Sarah Hall
Prize-winning short stories from a master of the form.

Touch – Graham Mort
See above.

Disgrace – J M Coetzee
Coetzee’s finest novel about a disgraced professor in this political portrait of post-apartheid South Africa.

A Widow for One Year – John Irving
Typical Irving territory: grief, humour, love and sex. And squash.

Engleby – Sebastian Faulks
My favourite Faulks, something more playful and subversive here. Extraordinary voice.

Harvest – Jim Crace
Bewitching tale of landscape and myth. Wonderfully immersive.

Cheating at Canasta – William Trevor
Twelve perfectly wrought stories from the doyen of this most demanding form.

Tom Vowler is a novelist and short story writer living in south west England. His debut collection, The Method, won the Scott Prize in 2010 and his novel What Lies Within received critical acclaim. He is co-editor of the literary journal Short Fiction and an associate lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, where he’s completing a PhD looking at the role of the editor in fiction. That Dark Remembered Day is his second novel. More at

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