(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark was our choice for October book club, and it was my first time reading it. I enjoyed it, but I think I’d describe it as a ‘diverting curiosity.’ I might go back to it, but only because it’s so slim. It is a book that hangs around in the mind though.
My two ‘Booker’ Book Club reads were Satin Island by Tom McCarthy and The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. I enjoyed The Fisherman, but I didn’t find it particularly exceptional (and I am Oh So Tired of new Nigerian authors being referred to as the ‘Next Chinua Achebe’). I really enjoyed Satin Island which made me a minority among its readers at book club, but I find what he’s trying to do with thinking about meaning and narratives really interesting, and I’m a critical theory nerd who likes strange-and-ambitious novels even if they don’t quite work.
Finally I read Rainbow Rowell’s new book Carry On, which is a YA fantasy that is her telling of the story that is the subject of the fandom in her previous book Fangirl. I basically buried myself into my sofa for a Saturday and read both with great joy (and some hot chocolate).
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
On TV I finally caught up on Daredevil, which was mostly ok, and all of Orphan Black before it disappeared from iPlayer. I have some feelings about Paul.
At the cinema I saw Regression which was terrible and made me pine for good Alejandro Amenabar films like The Others.
I also saw Suffragette, Crimson Peak, and The Lobster, all of which I enjoyed. I liked Suffragette’s choice of focus and the way the filmmaking got out of the way of story. I thought Crimson Peak was glorious, aesthetically, even if I like the idea of gothic romance more than I actually like gothic romance, and I love the fact that it exists at all because people wanted to make this thing happen. And The Lobster was spectacularly off-the-wall satire, and I kind of love Colin Farrell as a sad-sack muppet of a man (I really like him as an actor, Public Service Announcement).
I also saw Spectre, which I found dull. And then I got annoyed at James King standing in for Mark Kermode for implying that everyone who didn’t like Spectre was unfairly comparing it to Skyfall and forgetting how bad Die Another Day was and therefore not using their critical faculties, which NO, that is bobbins thank you very much. I wasn’t expecting Spectre to be as good as Skyfall (and I know that Die Another Day was the nadir of everything) but I wasn’t expecting to nearly nod-off after the opening sequence in Mexico (before all the nonsense with the helicopter). Until the finale in London I found I didn’t really care about anything, and it was a complete waste of a lot of people including-but-not-limited-to Naomie Harris, Christoph Walz and Monica Belluci. If they’d left Walz out and focused on Andrew Scott’s C and what was going on in British SpyLand that could have been REALLY GOOD. But they didn’t. So. Meh.
(3) Things which I wrote
Four pieces… positively verbose! I started with these thoughts on Richard II at the Globe, which I really enjoyed because it was funny and it made me think about the importance of humour in learning about history. Following this one on note-taking, I’ve started taking my notebook and not my laptop or iPad to meetings - and while I have to spend 15–20 minutes putting the key points into Evernote afterwards, I am retaining much more of what I hear. Finally, in two parts, my reflections on the process of finding a new church: (I) and (II).
(4) A photo from the month gone by
This is not one of mine. But I have this month discovered and become completely absorbed into Hamilton, and this shot from the Ham4Ham lotto show gives me joy. Anyone want to give me a ticket and a flight to New York?
This is one of mine. It's how buses do parking in Dhaka.
(5) In the pile for November
I’m trying to read three things for work: The Christian Imagination, by Willie James Jennings; The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity by Simon Coleman; and The Pedagogy of the Opressed by Paolo Freire. For funsies I’m reading Andrei Makine’s A Woman Loved, and definitely David Mitchell’s Slade House. I may well read Silence by Shusaku Endo and The Cadence of Grass by Thomas McGuane, and then I’ve got a trip coming up that I want to take a fat book on, and that might mean it’s Barnaby Rudge time (Dickens).
The only thing I really want to see at the cinema is Mockingjay part 2, but I think that’s going to have to wait till December. Also, I have a pair of tickets for the Royal Ballet at the end of the month, and I can’t get there, so if you live in London, do you want them?