in which I wrap up February
Month in review: wow Februrary went fast - and also spat us out into midwinter in Siberia
(1) Things which I have read.
Pattern Recognition - William Gibson. Only 15-odd years late to the table with this one. I always find Gibson engaging and atmospheric, and I enjoyed this, but it didn’t hit me the way Virtual Light and Idoru (in particular) did. It gets me up to the stage where I re-read Spook Country - which is the first Gibson I read where I really felt that I got it (I don’t recommend starting Adventures in Gibson with All Tomorrow’s Parties I just don’t).
Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng. After finishing Little Fires Everywhere I went straight to the bookshop and grabbed this (speaking of, thanks to Waterstones who automatically gave me a discount because theit only copy was bruised - that is a really rare thing). Ng is now definitely up there with my contemporary faves - authors whose stuff I will pre-order and chase down because it just works for me so. This was a heart-acher. Ever since I was small, I’ve noticed that when a book causes me emotional pain - without making me cry - I get an aching pain in the base of my thumb. This book made my thumb ache.
Pages for You - Sylvia Brownrigg. London Book Club’s book of the month, which I quite enjoyed. When I was reading it, I was properly engaged, but it didn’t grab me to the extent that I always wanted to get back to it. I am intrigued that there is a sequel - which I don’t think I want to read, at least, not for a few years. I like where this book left the characters, and I rarely trust people not to break their best toys.
Lullaby - Leïla Slimani. I borrowed the buzz book of the moment from a friend and enjoyed it immensely, reading it in a morning on a day off work. That said, it hasn’t stuck with me hugely, even three days later, and when I was reading the book it almost felt too long (and it’s barely 200 pages) because it was so clear where it was going.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
Besides a LOT of Winter Olympics, which made me plait my hair and wear my hat inside like a boarder...
I skipped over Spiderman Homecoming in the cinema, because I just did not need another Spidey and also I didn’t really have time, but I caught it on a plane and it turns out that it’s really cute and delightful and I enjoyed it a bunch.
Black Panther, oh HELLO, yes please, lots. I’ve been watching for this for ages and I hugely enjoyed it (and a lot of the commentary on it - I particularly recommend searching Africa is a Country for its collection of pieces on the topic). I obviously don’t have the depth of connection with it that many other viewers do, but I loved that it felt like the stakes were real and worthy of argument and also OMG the women. Especially Shuri. Shuri is my new queen.
I was slightly disappointed by The Shape of Water, mostly because it was so well reviewed and, as a big fan of Pan’s Labyrinth I was really looking forward to this. I admire it hugely and I think it’s really really good - but I just didn’t love it. I wanted to so much, but it did not steal my heart away.
I, Tonya, on the other hand, I enjoyed hugely. Very smartly done and very funny. I took my dad, and his comment was, ‘Almost everyone was so terrible you’d think they should be in a Coen Brothers film.’ Which is quite astute, because, yes, Shawn and LaVona and Jeff could all absolutely be Coen characters.
I saw Nick Hytner’s Julius Caesar at the new Bridge Theatre as well, which I really enjoyed. Caesar is not my favourite Shakespeare, and I go to it with a lot of Roman Republican history baggage, which always colours my viewing, but this was really good although I think the Philippi bit is too rushed. I thought the promenading was very effective - I’d be intrigued to do that with someone who doesn’t go with my baggage, becuase I’d like to see how the rhetoric works on the crowd. I also really liked the gender switching: it added a really nice edge, in particular, to Cassius’ relationships with Caesar and with Brutus, who are revealed as an obnoxious douchebag (well, that;s not news with Caesar) and a precious mansplainer.
(3) Things which I wrote
Just one piece on Lent. Apparently it’s hilarious that my blog autoposts to facebook - which I’m not really missing at all.
(4) Two pieces from a Year of Wonder
This month featured Max Richter, Bach’s Violin Concerto, Spiegel im Spiegel, and Allegiri’s Misere, all of which are huge favourites of mine. But I’m picking Charlotte Bray’s Agnus Dei, which is a beautiful setting, and Ola Gjeilo’s The Spheres, which is an aural depiction of the aurora.
(5) A photo from the month gone by
I went to Nigeria. This is Jos at dusk.
Also, I made my radio debut:
(6) In the pile for March I’m currently half way through a read through of China Mieville’s The City and the City, prior to the new TV version (still no idea how it will work) and Adam Nicholson’s The Glorious Dead, which I’m enjoying a lot but was been set aside for book club fiction. I’m traveling in March, so I have to find out what is on my kindle again, but I’m pretty sure I’m taking @AlanNoble’s new book, Disruptive Witness and maybe Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but I also really want to get to Sana Kraskiov’s The Patriots because it’s been on my TBR for a few months.