(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed
Once again, it feels like a month of reading slump… Come back, mojo. I re-read Station Eleven, as my book club chose it for our May book, and it was just as good a read second time through.
We also read Outline, by Rachel Cusk, for the Bailey’s Prize. I was - not enamoured. I enjoyed the reading - it was very well written, but I never felt any urgent desire to pick it up again once I’d put it down, and I don’t think it was as intelligent as it thought it was.
And then I finally finished We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, from April. As with Outline, the reading was fine - it was a very well written book - but I did’t feel any spark with it, and I don’t think it added anything to my understanding of the world or empathy with anyone. It’s just another book in the world. I’d rather it had been less competent and more ambitious and exciting.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
I saw a lot of dance. I saw the Northern Ballet in the Linbury, which was really nice, especially their birthday ballet to some Stanley Holloway recordings. There is a ballet of Albert and the Lion, y’all. Then I saw the Royal Ballet’s new Woolf Works which was completely beyond what I had ever expected, and I hope they bring it back in a year or two. And finally I saw Sylvie Guillem - very finally, in the last show of her career. I get all the fuss.
Three contrasting films this month:
Spooks: Greater Good. I do love a good spy story, and this was a solid, well-made spy story. It wasn’t quite Peak Spooks level (Ros, Adam, Zaf era), but it was definitely better than the final couple of years. Plus, EAST BERLIN, SPIES. I’m easy.
Pitch Perfect 2. I love the first Pitch Perfect so much that I have been to the sing-along show at the Prince Charles. And so, I am sad to report that, aside from Jesse being a role-model boyfriend to his going-to-be-a-mogul girlfriend Beca, Pitch Perfect 2 was mostly disappointing, which some fairly uncomfortable jokes and no Breakfast Club moments.
Mad Max: Fury Road. Boom. It’s post-apocalyptic Lawrence of Arabia, with feminism. It has good action, smart politics, and Charlize Theron. I loved it.
And lastly, I finished watching Agents of Shield season two. Man, I wish that show were better. The end of the season, which involved some proper ‘which way is up?’ politicksing, should have been totally up my street, but I just didn’t engage at all.
(3) Things which I wrote…
(4) A photo from the month gone by
May Bank Holiday Monday on the Sussex Coast. That’s the Seven Sisters.
(5) In the pile for June
Still Wolf Hall. But hey, I only have my kindle with me for two weeks, so it actually has a shot. Although I do plan to pick up Nickolas Butler’s new short story collection while I’m in a land where it is already published.
When I get home I’m finally kicking the funk and actually reading The Country of Ice Cream Star and All the Light we Cannot See.