The first day of a new month and it’s time to take a quick snapshot of what I’m reading, listening to and watching.
I’m 80 pages from the end of Santango by the Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai. This was first published in Hungary in 1985 and regarded as a classic, but wasn’t available in English until 2012. To call this book bleak would be an understatement. It’s almost brutal in its vision of life in a rotting, rain-drenched hamlet populated by a bunch of misfits. The narrative style is unforgiving (chapters without paragraph breaks) but so compelling. As a complete contrast I’m reading Mrs.P’s Journey: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Created the A-Z Map by Sarah Hartley. It’s a semi-fictionalised account of Phyllis Pearson, a painter who apparently single-handedly walked London’s 23,000 streets on foot during the course of one year, meticulously documenting every avenue, cul de sac and mews. To publish the map, and in light of its enormous success, she set up her own company, The Geographer’s Trust, which still publishes the London A-Z and that of every major British city. This is our book club choice which we’ll be meeting to discuss next week. It will be interesting to hear whether our members see Pearson’s life story as an urban myth or truth.
On the iPod for my journey to work and as my gym companion, I’m listening to an adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop. It’s a good choice for audio with so many colourful characters (I disagree with people who see Dickens as simply a caricaturist) who have idiosyncratic speech patterns. It’s also so over the top with its good versus evil tussle between sweet, good natured Little Nell and the malicious dwarf Daniel Quilp that it’s amusing.
Series 2 of Broadchurch is on currently but its such a disappointment after series 1. It’s descended to the point where you really can’t believe in the police officer played by David Tennant. He’s so inept I have to wonder how he’s ever held down a job in the force.
Talking of credibility, our box set of the The Good Wife series 5 brings many rolling of the eyes moments during court room scenes. Aren’t there any lawyers in Chicago other than Lockhart & Gardner and their new rival firm of Florrick & Agos and why do they always need to send their most senior partners to these cases? Some of the antics in court seem ludicrous – I know US court procedures are much less formal than those in UK but they seem ridiculous at times. Still, it’s good entertainment to wind down with at the end of the day.