What I read
My reading slowed down in February, as life got in the way. I read a few books though: I finished and reviewed Marguerite Duras’s non-fiction book Practicalities, W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz for the Classics Club and Nanjala Nyabola’s Travelling while Black. I also read Banana Yoshimoto’s modern classic coming of age novella Kitchen as I continue to work my way slowly through the 1001 books list, and Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment, which was unexpectedly fascinating (review to come).
I read Michael Rosen’s just-published Getting Better: Life lessons on going under, getting over it and getting through it. I had high expectations of it, and found it a bit of a disappointment, as it was so simplistic, and felt like a bit of a mess. Impossible to not warm to Rosen though. Finally, I’ve been reading Salman Rushdie’s newly published Victory City on audio book. Another hot mess, but interesting enough to plod on with, its a sort of epic, fictionalized, irreverent history of India, which might resonate more if I knew anything about the history of India to start with. Written before his horrific near-fatal stabbing in August, as ever I’m impressed by Rushdie’s intellect (though so is he).
What I watched: Films and TV
In addition to reviewing Lithuanian film Pilgrims I watched Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s black comedy Triangle of Sadness, his first English-language film. It’s a satire of ultra-rich living that works really well, with a nice role for Woody Harrelson as the cruise ship’s alcoholic captain. I was sad though to learn that Charlbi Dean, the beautiful young actress and model who really shines as the film’s female lead, had died just before the film’s release.
Other than that I rewatched a couple of classic Japanese anime films with my kids (Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro – I could happily watch the uber-charming Totoro every week), watched brilliant 2019 high school comedy Booksmart with my youngest daughter and watched cheesy late ’80s Schwarzenegger vehicle The Running Man with my husband and the same daughter.
TV-wise, I’ve been watching Slow Horses season 2 on Apple TV – worth the subscription fee just for Gary Oldman’s hilariously revolting portrayal of washed-up British secret services man Jackson Lamb, as well as the UK comedy series Everybody Else Burns, set in a family of fundamentalist Christians, and the second season of Emmy-winning US comedy series Hacks.
I went back to the Tate Modern with my youngest daughter for a GCSE art assignment, and reviewed the exhibition of work by Lithuanian artist M. K. Ciurlionis at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London. I also wrote up my trip to the Lithuanian art installation/opera Sun & Sea in London last summer.
Plans for March
Plans for the month ahead include a focus on books, film and music from Ireland for Cathy’s annual Reading Ireland project, and reading the Welsh classic novel How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn for Paula’s reading Wales event.