in which I wrap up May
Is it just me, or did May see reeeeally long? (1) Things which I have read.
Kintu - Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. This is a Ugandan family story, moving through generations and branches of a family. It’s a great exploration of ugandan history - including the land before it was “Uganda” - and a great story about people.
The Summer that Melted Everything - Tiffany McDaniel. This was London Bookclub’s May book - it’s ludicrously melodramatic and overwritten. A book about the devil coming to town should not have an antagonist named Elohim, it’s too obvious.
The Idiot - Elif Batuman. One of this year’s Womens’ Prize for Fiction nominees - and currently probably in second place for me, behind Home Fire. It’s about language and ideas and growing up. The tone won’t work for everyone, but I really liked it.
Some Hope - Edward St Aubyn. I can only read one Patrick Melrose book a month (max) because they’re too brutal - as well as being incredibly sharp and painfully funny.
Asymmetry - Lisa Halliday. Probably my book of the year so far - definitely of those published this year (otherwise it’s in a fight with Little Fires Everywhere). It’s gorgeously written and a really subtle engagement with power dynamics and privilege.
Enchanted Glass - Diana Wynne Jones. I have started reading Proust - but I took a Bank Holiday Weekend break for a little bit of kids’ book fun. Diana Wynne Jones is always a joy.
(2) Things which I have watched
At the cinema:
Avengers Infinity War. Yeaaaaaah. Admittedly I went in with high expectations, but I was disappointed. There were bits I enjoyed (snippets, lines, Paul Bettany’s face, putting all the annoying characters in one plot line) but it didn’t pack the emotional punch I felt like it should have had for me, as a long time Marvel fan. I need to see it again with lower expectations to see how it works.
Deadpool 2. Supersweary, violent fun. Not as fun as the first one, but the better of the two Josh Brolin is evil films this month, and I do enjoy the kid from Hunt for the Wilderpeople appearing in more things that cross my cinema screen (Oh, and this is one of the more astute pieces on that problematic plot point and trope).
Solo. A lot of fun and quite a lot of fluff. I’m not a major Star Wars fan, though I do go see the things - and I generally enjoyed this (though there was at least one plot point-tie in bit that was ‘eh, what? I has a confusion’). Always nice to see Paul Bettany’s face - but let’s be real, this is all about Donald Glover and the capes.
At the theatre:
I saw a lot of ballet. Obsidian Tear, Marguerite and Armand and Elite Syncopations; Manon; and Swan Lake all at the Royal Ballet, plus Elizabeth (with Zenaida Yanowsky) at the Barbican, all of which I enjoyed. I took a friend who knows dance to see Manon, and she had never seen Frankie Hayward dance, and it was really great to see how blown away see was by her. I also really enjoyed Liam Scarlett’s new Swan Lake - it was a mix of famiilar and sparkly and new, with a lot of gorgeous tutus. We saw Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov in the leads, who are always wonderful, and their solos in Act III were breathtaking. They are dancing for the livestream on 12 June, and I highly recommend it.
I went to see Max Richter at the Barbican, and I was so exhausted (it was a nearly four hour concert), but it was worth it. The Colin Currie group played Steve Reich’s Tehillim which blew me away, and then Richter performed Three Worlds, which is one of my favourite recent albums (and the score for the ballet Woolf Works)
And finally I saw The Writer at the Almeida, which I enjoyed and admired rather than outright loving
(3) Things which I wrote A short reflection on why, maybe, the Total Perspective Vortex doesn’t need to be mind-melting
(4) Two pieces from a Year of Wonder Two choral pieces this month. Going chronologically, Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine comes first, and can then be followed by John Tavener’s Mother of God, Here I Stand. I love both composers, but I didn’t know these two pieces by name (I recognised the Cantique…).
(5) A photo from the month gone by A cool set of plant pots at the Barbican
(6) In the pile for June I’m currently getting into Proust with Lydia Davis’ The Way By Swann’s and balancing it with Peadar O’Guilin’s The Call. Lisa Ko’s The Leavers is my bookclub book, and Chris Heurtz’s The Sacred Enneagram is my reflective book.