in which I wrap up November

Yeah, somehow it is now December. So long, most of 2014…

(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed L

ila - Marilynne Robinson. The third part of the loose Gilead trilogy, (previously featuring Gilead and Home) this is actually a prequel, chronologically, to the earlier novels, about the life of Lila, who becomes the wife of Rev. Ames, the narrator of Gilead. This is delicate and beautiful, and one of the most lovely depictions of someone being simultaneously baffled and attracted by faith. I actually find it really hard to write about Robinson’s fiction, because it’s hard to capture what is so wonderful about it. Fortunately for me, Sarah Churchwell’s got me covered.

I think Home remains my favourite of the set, because Jack Boughton breaks my heart, but this illuminates the strange connection that he seems to have with Lila later on, and I’d totally read a fourth book that was about both of them working out some way of doing life after the end of Gilead, without them falling in love. She could write that. Listen to me, Marilynne.

A Confederate General from Big Sur - Richard Brautigan. My first Brautigan, gloriously loopy beat fiction. The back of the book does not do it justice. There’s an alligator. I cannot imagine what it would be like to read this on Big Sur, especially if drugs were involved. I’m not sure I would recommend it: you might fall over the edge and be swallowed up by the Pacific.

(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed

  • Interstellar - imperfect, but well worth watching.

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 - despite the daft title, I was surprisingly impressed by this. Mockingjay is my least favourite of the books, for reasons mostly to do with the ending, so I wasn’t expecting a huge amount, and I got a much better, more interesting film than I expected. Although, the whole thing reminded me of jut how much I’m going to miss Philip Seymour Hoffman.

  • Orphan Black, Season 1 - OK, I know the entire internet told me about this, but, wow, Tatiana Maslany. Season 2 isn’t on Netflix or iPlayer - can anyone help?

(3) Things which I wrote that I’m fond of…

I was deeply amused by the rhetorical antics of Senator Ted Cruz in reciting Cicero mostly verbatim against Obama, as much as one can be amused by the kind of deeply divisive and unhealthy rhetoric that once helped lead to civil war…

I also wrote a couple of pieces for the Rhythms community on Band Aid, which I object to at a gut level. It was tricky to get my thoughts into something provocative and unladen by a lot of footnotes and qualifiers because of course everything is more complicated than I make it sound, but still:

(4) Most Distracting Thing on the Internet

Serial, obviously. Damn you, Thanksgiving, for the enforced break. Also, possibly more sustainably in the long run, StartUp podcast and the other future shows that StartUp’s creator Alex Blumberg is starting to commission… The man knows what he’s doing.

(5) In the pile for December

Taking my kindle on holiday next weekend, so I may finally get into The Goldfinch. Also on the list for my Christmas holiday is Don de Lillo’s Underworld, which is big and fat, and going to be read while I sit with my feet up on my parents’ Aga.

Some Advent Notes

Let's Play at Being Cicero