In which I wrap up April
(1) Things which I have read and enjoyed.
I spent a week in silence doing the Ignatian spiritual exercises in April, and I also mostly read short books.
1. The Patriots - Sana Krasikov. The not-short book, which I was recommend as ‘If you liked Do Not Say We Have Nothing, you might like this.’ I did - and I did. It’s a family saga of an American Jewish family in Russia, starting from the idealistic and feisty young Florence in the late twenties, making her way to Russia up to her son and grandson dealing with C20th capitalist oligarchy. It’s just a really solid story, very engagingly told. Would definitely recommend.
2. The White Book - Han Kang. I’ve really got into Han Kang, but am now up to the ‘waiting for the next book’ stage of our relationship. This is a lovely, melancholy, reflective little book. I’m fascinated by memory, and this worked for me.
3. The Noise of Time - Julian Barnes. Back to Russia. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Barnes, and I’m glad to discover I still enjoy him. This managed to be a little bit funny and a little bit sad, and made me go away and listen to Shostakovich, which I always enjoy more than I remember. It’s also nice to read books that remind you that living in Bad Political Times is an ethically messy business for everyone, without making everyone Bad.
4. Grief is the Thing with Feathers - Max Porter. Finally got to this, and really enjoyed it - even without ever having read Crow. I’ve never had to deal with grief like this, but it felt like a really true depiction. My mother read (read: skimmed) it after me and declared it the weirdest book she’d ever read.
(2) Things which I have watched and enjoyed
My only film this month was Ready Player One, which I mostly enjoyed against all my better judgment and beliefs about the world. It was entertaining but hollow, like the book, but trust me, the message of ‘you have to spend time in the real world message’ is a bunch of crap if it’s only so you can spend time making out with your cute geek girlfriend in your supercool loft.
I did go to the ballet twice, however. Firstly to the Royal Ballet for Bernstein night, where I loved both the new Wheeldon and the new McGregor, and continue to think Scarlett’s Age of Anxiety is underrated. Secondly to Sadlers Wells for ENB’s Voices from America. I enjoyed it all, but went primarily to see the new William Forsythe which was A. Freaking. Joy. So so so much fun.
(3) Things which I wrote
Two pieces: A short reflection on one of my lent activities: going barefoot; And a review of Alan Noble’s upcoming book A Disruptive Witness
(4) Two pieces from a Year of Wonder
Two refreshers this month:
I always forget that Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini is actually a set of variations on a Paganini Caprice, and this month gave us that: Caprice no.24.
Henrik Gorecki’s 3rd “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” is gorgeous and haunting. This month we got the 2nd movement.
(5) A photo from the month gone by Still love this shot of just how good our Easter feast was.
(6) In the pile for May
I have already seen Infinity War, but on the first of May, and I am looking forward to Deadpool number two. I also have a bunch of ballet trips booked in, including Liam Scarlett’s new Swan Lake, and then, while everyone is watching Eurovision I am going to be at the Barbican for a night of Max Richter. Book-wise, I am finishing of Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and then I have The Summer Everything Melted for London Book Club. Finally, then, I will be starting on Proust, as I have volunteered to co-host London’s chapter of Summer of Proust.