At the risk of becoming a book blog, musings on the rest of my January reading.
I want to start with a confession. I didn’t think Drive was all that. Sure, Ryan Blue-Eyes smouldered, but he was also creepy, frankly, and not in a good way. I didn’t appreciate that women are molls or doe-eyed mothers who need a good rescuing. And I’ve never been a fan of electronica.
Caught up last night with The Devil’s Double (in which Dominic Cooper reminds us that he can act, whilst remaining unaverse to chewing up scenery) and The Guard (in which Brendan Gleeson is unashamed of his pants). Two more dissimilar films may not exist, but we couldn’t face Drive after the bloodied insanity of Usay Hussain.
I first stumbled across A Brief History of the Dead in 2007, but never got round to reading it. I was delighted when it was picked as the inaugural volume for the new work bookclub. I'm unashamedly going to use LJ to capture my thoughts and impressions of each bookclub book I read, to help manage the gap between me finishing it and the group getting together to discuss.
First things first: ABHotD is the tale of Laura, a scientist working for Coca-Cola, who is sent to Antarctica as part of a PR stunt. When a pandemic plague sweeps the world, she is protected by her position, but ignorant of current events. Her storyline is her fight for survival in (probably) the least hospitable place in the world, as she struggles across the ice cap in search of help that can never come.
The dead of the title are the twin storyline, living on (existing?) in a city for as long as they are remembered by the living. As the city empties due to plague (think about it), the survivors find new connections in the web of Laura's past.
I first read Susan Hill at school – The Woman in Black inevitably and I'm the King of the Castle. Woman stands out as the perfect chiller, and I've subsequently seen the excellent stage adaptation; King was a downright unpleasant exploration of children, read alongside Lord of the Flies and in a similar vein.
Crime felt like a departure for Hill, but it was obvious from the beginning that the Simon Serrailler novels were not typical police procedurals. The fictional cathedral town of Lafferton is entirely real and recognisable, for all it exists as only a few well-described key locations; Hill taps into the platonic English country town to sketch the rest. we don't need detail or maps, because we have all been there in some incarnation.
In contrast, the principal characters – the Serrailler family – are thoroughly considered, and the novels are more about their lives, causes and preoccupations than about the murders that drive the plots. Where Susan Hill excels throughout the series is her nuanced look at humanity's strengths, fatal flaws and other weaknesses through the lens of the family's experience. The series seems designed to make the reader uncomfortable, and the latest is no exception in it's wish to challenge the reader's ethics and sense of justice.
The Ides of March has a lot to live up to: Clooney is Democratic candidate Mike Morris, gearing up to become the Democratic presidential candidate.
The comparisons with Primary Colors are inevitable. Ides is also told from the perspective of idealistic campaign manager (here a chiseled Ryan Gosling, using his soulful blue eyes to good effect); its candidate is charismatic and idealistic; and if the hard-nosed wrangler is Philip Seymour Hoffman rather than Kathy Bates, that’s hardly a shortcoming.
…stands for Benoit B Mandelbrot. Tonight, dizzykj and I attended the Air Accordion Society, which turns out to […]
It's been a long old week, so the boy and I rewarded ourselves by buying a lot of our favourite foods, grabbing some DVDs and agreeing we could spend 36 hours on the sofa. The steak and haggis were peerless, the wine was good, so that leaves me with some muddled thoughts on media. I'll warn you now – this is a ramble.
I avoided reading Jacqueline Carey for years, put off by the avalanche of cliche and exploitation that oozed […]
I finally got round to finishing the first series of Dollhouse while ironing for tomorrow. Quite apart from […]
…I’ll give it to you, Mr Whedon: you pulled it off again. Give me time, and my feminist […]
As we approach our eighth anniversary, my boy and I have been reflecting intermittently on what it is that draws us together. One popular theory is our willingness to (indeed enthusiasm for) take the piss: not just partners, but sparring partners. Another, often revisited, is our uncanny tendency to think and say the same thing at the same time. Last night, watching the rather good Public Enemies, our shared frame of reference and ability to follow random cues was the key: as the film introduced a Chicago villain, my boy leant over and murmured without preamble “Proper fucked”.
Possibly the rest of the audience were curious as to why I found that particular scene so funny, but he was absolutely right. I haven’t a clue what the actor’s name is either, but it was certainly him. And he was, as it turned out.
1) Metaphors aside, boys should never, ever, wear rose-tinted glasses. 2) Should a boy choose to do so, […]
No sooner did I compare myself to Achilles (or at least my choice not to emulate him), than […]
An Uncommon Reader
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer