Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith (Books 2019, 17)

No, it’s me, not London Below: this has also faded quickly from my mind, despite the fact that I love MMS, and I really enjoyed this as I read it.

Still, it’s very good. Hannah is an ordinary girl living in present-day California with her dad and (maybe) mum (sorry, mom).

Until the devil turns up, and her grandfather turns out to be his engineer. And he knew Bach.

Inevitably, the world needs to be saved.

Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith (Books 2019, 17)

More on Tarantino

Following on from my musings of a few weeks ago, regarding Tarantino’s introducing a slight degree of counterfactuality into a fictionalised version of the real world, we watched Inglourious Basterds the other day. (That film is ten years old. How?)

So it seems like adding counterfactual happy (happier) endings to real-world things is what he does now? I don’t know what happens in Django Unchained or The Hateful Eight, though. Turns out I haven’t really watched his stuff since Jackie Brown.

More on Tarantino

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Books 2019, 15)

It’s to my shame that I hadn’t read this classic of modern literature before now. And it turns out, now that I have, that it’s really good. Surprise, surprise. I don’t really care for dystopias, as I’ve said before. Interesting that the book I linked to there had just won the Clarke, and the one we’re discussing was the inaugural winner of that award.

For the first few chapters I was distracted by wondering how this situation, this state, could have come to be. Strangely what I found difficult to cope with was not the restrictions, the rolling back of rights — they are horrific, but I could and can easily imagine an America (or hell, maybe even a Britain) that could enact those laws.

No, what I found hardest to believe in was the dress codes. The way not just the Handmaids, but the marthas (domestic servants), econowives (lower-class, probably infertile women, assigned to lower-class men) and even Wives (the wives of the ruling-class men) all dress in the standard costume of their class.

Somehow I feel — or at least felt — that it would be harder to get everyone to dress the same way than to obey laws that restrict more important freedoms.

As the chapters went on, those concerns evaporated. The telling of the backstory through Offred’s reminiscences outlines a convincing route from 80s America to Gilead. Though a lot more could be told: it is only an outline. Still, it’s enough.

These days, with actual nazis poisoning our political discourse, and attempts to roll back reproductive rights even in France, it sometimes feels — as Atwood no doubt intended — that Gilead is not so much a fable as a warning.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Books 2019, 15)

Where, and in what direction, am I meant to slide? Because I can’t get past this screen in the iPhone camera app “Manual.”

Status

The Seventh Function of Language, by Laurent Binet, Translated by Sam Taylor (Books 2019, 14)

I need to start making notes about where I hear about books. This hasn’t been on my Kindle for long, but I have no idea what prompted me to buy it.

I’m glad I did, though. This is great. It’s set in 1980, and Roland Barthes, the philosopher and semiologist (semiotician?) gets knocked down I the street by a laundry van. He dies later in hospital.

That much is true. But Binet uses it as the jumping-off point for a mystery caper of sorts, in various picturesque cities in Europe (and a brief dip into the US). Because Barthes was believed to have been carrying a paper detailing the titular function.

Along the way we learn things about semiotics and linguistics, aided by the police officer who is investigating the case

It’s a strange one, but pretty good.

The Seventh Function of Language, by Laurent Binet, Translated by Sam Taylor (Books 2019, 14)

Tempted to register one of the many available domains using “chuntering from a sedentary position.” It would be a John Bercow fan site, of course.

Status

Do you ever listen to the start of Blonde On Blonde and want to know more about the Rainy Day Women numbers 0 to 11, 13 to 34, and maybe even 36 and beyond?

Status

The End of Newspaper Delivery

We’ve been getting The Guardian delivered on Saturdays for several years. Not any other days, because who has time to read paper newspapers except at the weekend? But it’s great to get up and have the paper there to read over breakfast.

Sadly, a couple of weeks back we got a note with our delivery:

Sorry, we are stopping deliveries from the 1st of October.

Not too surprising, I suppose. It’s hard to imagine that enough people get deliveries to make it worth’s their time and effort. And it’s not like they’re going out of business: they’ll still be selling papers, just not delivering them.

So I suppose we’ll have to go out and buy the paper on Saturday mornings, like it’s the — actually, not like it’s the past at all. I’d bet that there have been newspaper deliveries as long as there have been newspapers.

Still, it’s not like they’ve stopped everywhere. I expect there are still a few places out there that still deliver. But what next? Will our milkman stop delivering?1

In this golden age of home deliveries, remember that we depend on people being willing and able.


  1. Yes, we get milk delivered three times a week, since you ask. 
The End of Newspaper Delivery

Jason & Dan

If you saw my post the other day complaining about typography, you might have been confused. I went to see Jason & The Scorchers last Friday. They were playing in a co-headline tour with the Kentucky Headhunters and Dan Baird & Homemade Sin.

On the night we saw them, the order they took the stage was: Headhunters, Scorchers, Homemade Sin.

That was completely the wrong order, at least for the audience at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on that night. The energy and connection of the Scorchers meant that the peak for the whole event came as they finished their set — in the middle of the evening.

No doubt you think I just think that because I’m a fan of the Scorchers, and not particularly of Dan Baird. And there is some truth to that. But I watched the last twenty minutes or so from off to one side — OK, I was standing at the bar — so I had a good view of the front of the crowd; and it was clear that they weren’t as excited, as into it, as involved, as they had been an hour before.

No matter, it was still a great night, and I’m sure some people were happy that the running order was that way round. What drove me to post that picture, though, was the distraction that backdrop caused me. I couldn’t really appreciate the music for staring at it.

In case it’s not obvious to you, take a look at the ampersand, and tell me how there’s any possible way it can make sense in that orientation.

Jason & Dan