in which I wrap up March
(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed.
The City and the City - China Mieville. This is an old friend, which I have been meaning to re-read for an age. I finally got around to it, because I wanted to make sure I did before the BBC mini-series of it appears. It’s still utterly marvellous and smart and thought provoking and tense, and I still don’t know how they’ll film it.
Folk - Zoe Gilbert. A book of interwoven short tales about a small community on a slightly strange island is very me, and I really enjoyed this. It wasn’t quite as interwoven and novel-ly as I expected, but now I am over that affecting how I read it the magic of what I actually read lingers. It’s great for dipping in and out of, and for bedtime reading.
The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters - Adam Nicholson. I have a pile of Homer to re-read this year, in new translations by women. This was a good re-entry point to the world and value of Homer, but I am now ready for the same kind of book to be written by a woman to see what different ideas are drawn out.
Five Rivers meet on a Wooded Plain - Barney Norris. I read this on kindle, or it would have been the first in the trail of mediocre paperbacks I left behind me as I travelled through Jordan. This was London Book Club’s book for March and it was so twee. It thinks it’s much deeper than it is. Give it a miss.
Alys, Always - Harriet Lane. This was the best of the bunch I read on holiday, a very fast, almost thriller. I wanted a different ending that blew it all up, but it was an interesting concept.
Then we came to the End - Joshua Ferris. I probably would have liked this much more if I’d read it when it was published a decade ago. As it is, it was an easy read, but significantly longer than it needed to be to make its point, and if you want white men writing on the mundanity of daily office life, read the fragments of David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King.
A Disruptive Witness - Alan Noble. I just finished this, and will be writing about it soon. Suffice it to say, it comes out in early summer (in the US at least) and I liked it a lot.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
Lady Bird. I loved this film. It’s slight but not shallow, sharp and warm, funny and sad, and very very true about families and homes. You should read my friend Hannah writing about why she loved it .
Call Me By Your Name. I missed this when it came out last year but the BFI had it on just when I had a free Saturday thanks to the snow cancelling an appointment. I am so, so glad that it did. I utterly loved it and can’t stop feeling about it and its mood. Both this and Lady Bird have wonderful movie-parents.
A Wrinkle in Time. The trailer for this so excited me that I went out and read the book for the first time and really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the film, but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. I felt that the bits with the It were not quite as deep and dark as they were in the book, especially the It’s interaction with Charles Wallace. That said, it was great fun and wonderful to see with this cast. If I had kids I would take them.
Pacific Rim Uprising. The first Pacific Rim was a barrel of fun with heart. The sequel doesn’t quite match it, but it was still a great fun smashy monster robot film and John Boyega has oodles of charisma to carry it along, even if no one quite understands why Hollywood keeps trying to make Scott Eastwood happen.
(3) Things which I wrote Some reflections on visiting the Cedars of Lebanon
(4) Two pieces from a Year of Wonder
In a month that features more Bach (always more Bach), Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Nils Frahm -as well as Vivaldi’s double trumpet concero - I’m choosing Ar Hyd y nos, sung by Bryn Terfel and John Field’s Nocturne no. 5. I first heard the Field when I was about 17, when an RSC production of A Month in the Country used Field’s Nocturnes as it’s core piano music. Ever since, I’ve associated it with melancholy in Russia in summer.
(5) A photo from the month gone by Wadi Rum. A place to come face to face with the majesty of creation and feel suitably, reassuringly, tiny.
(6) In the pile for April I’m in the middle of Sara Krasikov’s The Patriots, which I am loving, and then I just need to get into the TBR pile by my bed. I have a proof of The Unit, a new dystopic fiction with a Margaret Atwood rec on it, so I’ll be reading that. At the cinema I will be off to see the new Wes Anderson and the latest Marvel world-buster, gearing up my emotions to say goodbye to Chris Evans’ Cap.