(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed.
I finally finished reading Shadi Hamid’s Islamic Exceptionalism which was really interesting and with which I’m having an ongoing mental conversation. I’m hoping and planning to write some of it down at some point when I can find several sustained minutes.
I re-read Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay which is still warm and funny and smart and satisfying. This time round I spent more time living with Rosa in my head, which was lovely.
Also finally read the second book in Jeff Van der Meer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which is Authority. Annihilation, the first book, gave me the screaming heebie jeebies over Christmas and this one has a similarly creepy atmosphere. It also built on the story in an entirely different way than I was expecting, which was nice. I’ve found both books somewhat less than compulsive reading at the start – something in the style, I think, but always interesting enough to keep going (also, they’re short!), and then I end up reading the last 70-odd pages in a huge rush of tension. Hopefully the library can get me part three.
I finished up the month by reading Colson Whitehead’s new book The Underground Railroad, which comes out in the UK this autumn. I screamingly love this book. I started writing a brief description of why here, and accidentally wrote a whole blog post about it.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
I made it to the cinema a whole twice. I saw Swallows and Amazons, which turned out to be fairly delightful despite my great fears. It doesn’t need it’s Russian spy plot at all, and I would have preferred more of the Swallows and Amazons-y imagination in its place, but equally it didn’t sink the film the way I worried it might.
I also saw Bad Moms on the strength of a couple of friends saying it had made them laugh like drains and a surprisingly positive Wittertainment review. And I really enjoyed it. Pleasingly funny, very pleasingly lacking in gross-out humour, and I am here for a film that pokes holes at the ridiculous pressures placed on mothers today.
I spent a day watching Chekhov at the National Theatre (Platonov, Ivanov, The Seagull), which I loved and which stretched my brain and left me feeling slightly pummelled the next morning. I also saw The Threepenny Opera which was more flash than daggers and has left me feeling more than ever that Rufus Norris and I are not on the same wavelength because we are 0 for 3 now. And I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe which was a raucous joy and a great counterpoint to and release after Chekhov day (I saw it the next evening).
I am still promming with a slightly tired joy. I’ve seen 35 of a possible 64, so I feel like I’ve made intensely good use of my season ticket. Highlights you should dig out on iPlayer radio are:
* Prom 32, featuring Schoenberg’s Survivor of Warsaw and Mahler’s First Symphony
* Prom 39, with Mahler’s Fifth Symphony
* Prom 42, which was The Sixteen singing Arvo Pärt and Bach
* Prom 52, featuring Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances
* Prom 54: Mozart’s Requiem
* Prom 61: Kamasi Washington
* Prom 63: Bach’s Mass in B Minor
(3) Things which I wrote
I wrote a short post about why I love Swallows and Amazons so damn much, and why I was worried about the film.
(4) A photo from the month gone by
A couple more Proms shots…
(5) In the pile for September
I just started reading William Finnegan’s Barbarian Days, which I can already tell you is extremely gorgeously written. I’ve got Rowan Williams’ new book Being Disciples which looks accessible and short, so I’m really excited for it. And then my book club is reading Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont.