20 Mar 2023

So, I posted the below and then disregarded Nora’s advice, and held my breath for a month. It felt sort of necessary somehow. But here we are, it’s the vernal equinox, and I’m ready to move up a gear. A handful of the daffodils have shows their faces in the back garden, and I heard (but did not see) a bee.

Since I last posted I’ve read a couple of books, both of them a little disappointing, but by no means without merit:

The first was Gabrielle Zevin’s much-hyped Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (2022), which I found both frustratingly divorced from the practical realities of the video game industry (in which it is set), and too eager to undermine its female lead by placing her into romantic relationships with virtually every male character in the novel.

The second was Nell Zink’s Avalon (2022), which is dense with ideas, but I found the through-lines of its characters to be too faintly pencilled. It’s not so much that I was clamouring for capital C, capital D: Character Development — but in a novel centred around a young woman moving through various upheavals in life circumstance, I felt something a little lacking. Perhaps I just wanted to close the novel with a more definite sense of Bran having learned something about herself. Equally, perhaps that was not Zink’s project, and she remains an unquestionably fine, endlessly interesting writer.

I also caught a clutch of good movies; let me bullet point them for you:

  • The Fabelmans (2022) — catnip for those cinephiles for whom Spielberg has been a constant presence since childhood

  • Women Talking (2022) — masterful in every regard

  • Men (2022) — Alex Garland’s weirdest, with a truly outré last reel

  • Certain Women (2016) — a rewatch of this favourite on International Women’s Day; Kelly Reichardt can do no wrong

  • Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy (2021) — almost the equal of Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s other 2021 film: Oscar-winner, Drive My Car

  • Empire of Light (2022) — I think I need more room for this one, and may write about it in the newsletter this weekend.

  • A Human Position (2022) — I loved the pace of this, and the pride it takes lingering on both Norway’s natural beauty, and its objects of design.