I’m still wading my way through the International Booker shortlist, although I was slightly derailed by stress after spending a few nights in hospital with my daughter last week, and could only cope with Naiose Dolan’s Exciting Times, which I quite liked. It has an endorsement from David Nicholls on the cover, but doesn’t beat his One Day in my opinion: though that was very relatable to me, and covered my generation, whereas this made me feel a bit middle-aged. I mean, I am middle-aged, so fair enough. However, it was a good read for a hospital vigil of sorts, when I didn’t want a challenge or to be made sad. It was very funny and sharp, and a bit romantic, about a young Irish teacher adrift in Hong Kong, and also great for a linguistics nerd like myself as there are interesting asides about languages (did you know Irish has lots of different words for seaweed?). It’s brilliant on social media etiquette, and overall I would recommend.

Off the International Booker shortlist I just read The Dangers of Smoking in Bed from the imagination of Argentinian writer Mariana Enriquez and expertly translated by Megan McDowell, but I didn’t love it. It’s very dark, and not without black humour, modern gothic with a nod to Argentina’s murky past – all of which makes it sound great, but the quality of the stories was patchy I thought, and some of them I just wanted to … well, end. So, yeah, I’m afraid although I found some of it brilliant, some stories were frankly boring or a bit juvenile in their desperate desire to shock.

Film

During April we watched Palm Springs on Amazon Prime., and loved it, though its not for kids. I read somewhere it is like Groundhog Day crossed with Bridesmaids, which is about right…

Then the other day we watched The Mitchells vs The Machines over on Netflix, which very much is a family film, but is also good fun for grown-ups.

TV

On All4 we’ve just found Stath Sells Flats, which is set around a family of hapless Greek-British estate agents in north London, and is just a hoot. Lots of familiar faces, and it reminds me a bit of my five years in Haringey in my 20s. I’m going to be watching the new series of the very funny Motherland this week too, a parenting comedy that is basically a documentary, in my experience!

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