In which I wrap up February
(1) Things which I have read.
Dreyer’s English - Benjamin Dreyer. I picked this up because my twitter feed was nattering on about it and because there was a great interview with Dreyer in the NYT, and I had the best time reading it. It’s witty and smart, and it cares about grammar and how it can make writing sound and read better without being unpleasantly snobbish. It probably is a bit snobbish, but Dreyer is very good at making you feel as if you’re on the same side, even when he’s being rude about things the British do differently.
The Vagrants - Yiyun Li . A bleak yet compelling story set in a non-famous city in China just after the end of the cultural revolution. As a picture of the topsy-turvy-nothing-stable-to-trust rhetoric and rules of a totalitarian state, it’s really good, but it really is quite miserable.
The Fifth Season - NK Jemison. When the third of the Broken Earth trilogy won a third successive Hugo for its author, I thought i’d give the first a try. It took a little while, but I really got into the story in the end and will definitely be reading the others. It didn’t absorb me in the way that some fantasy has - and it did make me think a lot about WHEN we might get the third of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles (How is it men get away with making you wait ages for books in a series, and the women tootle along turning them out? Wait, don’t answer that…)
Washington Black - Esi Edugyan. One of the Booker nominees from last year that I really wanted to read (there weren’t many), I was glad to get this as a gift. I really enjoyed it, as a strange, picaresque story that asked some pertinent questions about white explorers and saviours’ relationships with the people they encounter and ‘save’ - but it wasn’t as rich as it might have been, and I will probably forget it fairly soon.
(2) Things which I have watched
Burning - a fully strange yet strangely compelling Korean film that’s basically about toxic masculinty. It’s vivid, and has definitely stayed with me.
If Beale Street Could Talk - this film is fully gorgeous and good food for the soul and the eyes. It’s rich and it’s simple story is fully present to the complexity of the world, and I loved it. And no, i don’t understand why this wasn’t nominated for the Oscar for best film and certain others were…
Lego Movie 2 - all I remember of the first Lego movie really is that it was very very funny and very very smart, and had a really catchy tune. This is also very funny and very smart, and has a lot of catchy tunes: it’s not as revelatory a wonder as the first, but still a delight.
The Kid Who Would Be King - speaking of delights - THIS film, which is possibly the most British kids adventure film to ever kids-adventure, and I loved it. It’s a properly joyful, good film and I would have adored it as a twelve year old and if I had a twelve year old I would love to be able to take them to it (though I would not love to have a twelve year old, thanks). If you don’t go and see it, you’re a part of the reason why we can’t have nice, funny, charming, good-hearted films that aren’t about superheroes, and we can’t be friends. Unless the heir to King Arthur unites us.
Dawn Wall and Meru - apparently Free Solo has got me in to climbing films, and I bought and watched these two this month. Dawn Wall is about the attempt to take a really really hard (as opposed to the normally hard) route up El Capitan, and its pretty good. Meru is about the attempt to climb a really really stupidly hard bit of the Himalayas, but also about post-traumatic stress and the mentality of climbing. It’s by the same people who directed Free Solo and it’s a noticeably better film, as a whole story, than Dawn Wall. Also everyone is clearly nuts in the best possible way.
(3) Things which I wrote
This month has mostly been about the journalling in my world.
(4) A recommendation of some kind
If you ever happen to be in Kathmandu, I would highly recommend the Kantipur Temple House as a place to stay. It’s lovely and quiet, but just out of the crush of Thamel (which is good for food and knock off hiking). They don’t have TVs, but they do provide cloth shopping bags for you to take to market and filtered water so you don’t have to buy plastic bottles.
(5) In the pile for March
I’m away for a couple of weeks, so I’ve hit up the pile of books that I own and want to read but suspect I won’t want to keep, in the hope that I’ll be able to leave them behind as I go. And then when I come back, I’m going to get into Max Porter’s new novel, Lanny.
(6) A Photo from the last month
When in Kathmandu: eat momos.