in which I wrap up March

(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed.
I finished The Way Things Were by Aatish Taseer, and then I wrote about why I found it interesting.

Book club gave me the chance to re-read Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, so that was a delightful Easter had by all. It had been a long time since I read it and I had forgotten how strong a character Bathsheba is – and actually how right the recent film was in its focus and portrayal of her. I’d also forgotten quite how ‘farmy’ it was, and this time I really enjoyed its picture of that rhythm of right. I want to read @HerdyShepherd1’s book A Shepherd’s Life soon, and I feel like they might make a nice pair (certainly his current twitter feed of baby lambs and frosty mornings made for a good background to Madding Crowd).

And finally, I’m in the middle of a thoroughly delightful War and Peace re-read: currently the war of 1812 is getting started, and Natasha is soothing her guilty spirit in a LOT of Russian Orthodox Easter church-going. The thing I’m really loving about it is just how utterly frustrating all of these characters are – like they all want to wreck their chances of happiness at every possible opportunity – and yet I love them to bits. Especially Andrey Bolkonski, who has been locked into my head as my imaginary boyfriend for 14 years (and who was confirmed as a Precious Cinnnamon Roll in the recent BBC TV series), and yet who is horrible to his wife Lise and bascially an emotionally confused arrogant jerk. (And still my imaginary boyfriend…)

(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
I saw the latest Coen Brothers’ film, Hail, Caesar, which I deeply, deeply enjoyed (and not just because Channing Tatum tap dances), and I saw Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, which I thought was a brilliant adaptation of the novel. I really liked the way it gave the story a single protagonist; although it meant losing some of what is going on with Wilder, it didn’t lose too much – and the ambivalent withdrawal/engagement dance that Laing does throughout makes for a great audience avatar. In its tone and atmosphere it reminded me a lot of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil in its vision of a future in which society is stratified and people are isolated, and then it all starts to fall apart – except with more parties, like, maybe, the disco version.

(3) Things which I wrote
I wrote about Hail, Caesar and about The Way Things Were. I also wrote about rubbish and milk bottles, inspired by a workshop I was attending. Delightfully, Abel and Cole got in touch on twitter, so maybe they’ll look into reusable milk containers.

(4) A photo from the month gone by
How I spent some time on holiday…

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(5) In the pile for April
I need to finish War and Peace, and read Sara Novic’s Girl at War for book club, and then I’m basically going to raid my shelves. I have a pile of non-fiction to read: A.O Scott’s new book on criticism, a lot of Rebecca Solnit, and bundles of essay collections. I also have a lot of shortish novels to go through, so we’ll see. I’m going to be seeing Giselle and A Winter’s Tale at the Royal Ballet, which I’m really looking forward to seeing again. And at the cinema I’m looking forward to Captain America: Civil War but I’m not sure my emotions are going to cope.

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