In the early days of this blog (5 years and almost 400 posts ago) I used to do monthly roundups. I’ve fallen out of the practice but have decided to revive it for this year, having been inspired byJason Kottke and others. After all, what is a personal website for if not for my ill informed opinions on popular culture? So here is the media I have consumed for January 2022.
- How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell- I liked the theory and ideas behind this book more than the actual explanations.
- Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir- A fun combination of high fantasy and science fiction, with some necromancy thrown in for good measure. The setting and characters felt unique and different, but the lore dragged it down.
- Humour by Stanley Donward- Very short, strange short stories/ prose poems. I first read Stanley Donward when I was doing my playwriting masters twelve years ago. Reading him again, it’s amazing how much I have been influenced by these singular stories and how much I have tried to emulate them in my own work.
- Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett- I’m reading through the Discworld books again, very slowly. Now I’m an adult I can see the social satire much more clearly. The first two books are funny but patchy. This is the first one in the series that feels like a complete story from beginning to end. It also introduces Granny Weatherwax, who appears in this book fully formed and a force of nature.
- The Bible II by Sam J. Grudgings- You should all go out and get this poetry book. It uses biblical metaphors to talk about addiction and recovery and is dense in the best way, every line sparks off new images in your head. It’s painful in places but also beautiful. I read it slowly over a month and it is a book to savour. Sam has created a unique poetics that is uniquely his.
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones: Beautifully written, weird combination of murder mystery and obscure mythology. I enjoyed it but found the main character irritating, which obscured the central message of the book. An odd read.
- Remains of the Day- Just masterful. I loved the restraint of the performances, everything that remains unsaid and the overwhelming melancholy. It’s a beautiful film and a fantastic adaptation.
- Ready Player One- The best thing I can say about this film is it is just not very good, whereas the book is actively hateful.
- Matrix: Resurrections- Sure, it’s a confusing mess, but its an entertaining confusing mess. I’d much rather see film makers try something different and fail rather than watch the same story again.
- Schitts Creek- A warm bath of a show that you sink into and enjoy.
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 1- Funny and well paced, it is a great exploration of why people want to perform. You like almost every character, even the ones who make mistakes. It’s Amy Sherman-Palladino’s best work.
- Apocrypals (podcast)- Two non believers read the bible and try not to be jerks. This is a fascinating and often silly dive into the Bible, with a biblical scholar on the show providing historical, cultural and linguistic context for each book. Their dive into the Gospels and Genesis are fascinating and has me reading the Bible along with them.
That’s it for this month. I’m going to try and keep my notes and what I’m up to now more up to date.