I began this decade in London, a physical wreck, mentally ruined, almost friendless and facing the grim realisation that not only was “creative writing” a titanically stupid course to pick but my writing sucked. As bad as all this was, I also had to realise that given that I had grown up with a loving, well-off family and an at least half-decent level of cognitive aptitude this was almost entirely my fault.
I end this decade in Poland, relatively healthy, relatively happily, having made a lot of friendships I treasure and having gone some way towards achieving my almost-abandoned ambition to be a writer. I am not sure how this happened, and am under illusions that life could get worse again, but I’m very grateful that the decade brought such blessings.
With those self-indulgent thoughts out of the way, here is a self-indulgent list of my favourite articles of the year.
1. “How Britain Broke its Funny Bone”, Washington Examiner
2. “The Fusionism That Failed”, First Things
3. “Kevin D. Williamson Has a People Problem”, Spectator USA
4. “What My Polish Town Taught Me About Localism”, Unherd
5. “The Lost Futures of Mark Fisher”, University Bookman
6. “The Right Needs to Grow Up on Environmentalism”, Quillette
7. “Why Pro-Wrestling is Great Americana”, Spectator USA
8. “Joseph Conrad – Between England and Poland”, Agonist
9. “The Limits of Liberal Universalism”, Arc Digital
10. “Bernard Henri-Lévy is the Comic Romance of Liberal Technocracy”, Palladium
11. “The Origin of the Secular Species”, University Bookman
12. “Happy Birthday, Simpsons, But I Wish You Were Dead” American Conservative
The quality of my work is not for me to judge but I am at least pleased that in writing about everything from history, literature and religion to the opioid crisis, mass shooters and the college bubble, to pro wrestling, talk radio and Jackass it has been an eclectic 2019.
Thanks to everyone who has published, edited, argued with or read me. Have a happy Christmas.
Congratulations on your great success Ben!
I greatly enjoy your writing – fair, sharp and expressive. Your piece on the rise and fall of British comedy (feeding into the brilliant insight that “left-behind” Britain yearns not for the pre-war ambition of Empire, but the comfort of post-war decline) is particularly arresting.