In which I wrap up November
(1) Things which I have read.
You’d almost not know that I was on holiday for a week that I only read three books… but I did do a lot of wandering around ancient temples and napping. Also, one of these books was nearly 700 pages and took some thinking about.
That book was Gnomon by Nick Harkaway, a behemoth of a book about survelliance and resistance which made my head spin in a really good way. It took my brain some work to keep up with it. I simultaneously loved it, and agreed with the nice Guardian reviewer who thought it could have used a bit of cutting and tightening (even if I can’t work out where). Either way, I’m grateful for Harkaway and his brain.
I moved on from Harkaway to Cornwell-under-a-pseudonym-Senior, John Le Carré and The Mission Song, which I’ve had for a while because a spy story about the West’s ejit-witted engagement in African politics seemed like my kind of jam. I enjoyed it a lot, and the thoughts on translation and immigration are fascinating, but I would classify it as a minor post-Wall Le Carré.
Finally I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World, which was my purchase after Ishiguro won the Nobel and was London Book Club’s November choice. I loved it. I think Ishiguro is an author I’ve grown into: I remember reading Remains of the Day and Once Were Orphans in my early twenties and liking them, but missing something. Never Let Me Go was the first I really grasped at, and then The Blind Giant impressed me enormously and has really stayed with me. I’m now in a ‘want to read everything he’s ever written’ place because I love how he writes about perspective and memory and history. The two I’ve read about Japan and the war - this, and A Pale View of Hills are both fascinating about a country that seems to struggle to deal with its twentieth century history.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed Let’s embrace two completely contrasting films: The Killing of a Sacred Deer and Paddington 2. Yes. Those were my November choices. Killing of a Sacred Deer was maybe one of the weirdest films I have ever seen and yet I am really really glad I saw it even if ‘enjoyed’ is not quite the word. I’m pretty sure that Colin Farrell should work with Yorgos Lanthimos on the regular, because he does some of his very best (non-In Bruges) work with him.
Then Paddington 2. Which is like being actually hugged by Paddington. People keep asking me if it’s as good as the first one, which, no it’s not, but really - what is? It’s delightful and charming and not at all sappy. There’s a hot air balloon and steam trains and Brendan Gleeson. Honestly, what more do you want. Other than to be literally hugged by Paddington.
(3) Things which I wrote
I made the foolish mistake of going on a tour visit to a floating visit in Phnom Penh. I hated it. And myself.
(4) A photo from the month gone by
I got to go to Angkor Wat, which was truly impressive. But I liked the Angkor Thom complex even more.
(5) In the pile for Decemnber
I’m currenly reading Jenny Erpenbeck’s latest novel, Go, Went, Gone, which I am savouring and think - so far - is completely brilliant. At 70 pages in, I think it’s also the most accessible. I have a very large TBR pile, and I’m working out what to take home for Christmas reading. Maybe The Loney and a few others in a solid pile in the bottom of the suitcase. I’m also hoping for Emily Wilson’s Odyssey translation for Christmas (HINTPARENTHINT). In the cinema I will obviously be going to see Star Wars and sobbing into a large pile of tissues, and probaby Pitch Perfect 3 even though I assume they are on a sliding decline.