Continuing the Ulysses / Odyssey theme read The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. Short volume telling the story of Odysseus' wife Penelope, from her point of view in the Grecian afterlife. It's constructed with a chorus from the maids who were killed by Telemachus and Odysseus at the end, in the most disturbing part of the original.
In spite of that it's pretty light, entertaining reading: read it in a single session. It's packaged very like a chick-lit book, and seems to be meant to be accessible.
Book does its job and is a good read. Problem is it's bit predictable. I think one of Atwood's problems is that she's a bit lazy when it comes to exploring ideas. When she has an idea, she explains what it is and goes through the obvious motions; but she never really takes an unexpected path or follows it deeper than the reader would or plays with the reader's expectations. So it's a bit anticlimactic to watch everything unfold just as expected. Decent bit of summer reading though.
What I'm Watching
Annie Hall Saw Annie Hall on DVD, as part of my "alleged classics I haven't bothered with" series. Pretty good Woody Allen movie, with some shrewd observations: laughed out loud in a few places. Some of the satire of California seems pretty dated now though. Also, even though he's playing an exaggerated character, the nerd-schtick seems less convincing now that the real Allen appears to be a fairly manipulative, domineering character. Quite a diversity of touches, from the little animations to the what-they're-thinking subtitles to the stepping-out-of-character stuff: seems to have been quite innovative.
Also like the bit where they're splitting up their possessions and Annie is going through a box of badges. "I guess these are all yours. Impeach Eisenhower... impeach Nixon... impeach Lyndon Johnson... impeach Reagan..."
Went to see the Constable exhibition at Tate Britain. Visiting not too bad: went there for 10AM on a Sunday and was fairly cool at that time (wearing shorts and short sleeves anyway). Only one child, but unusually that was a German family, and as soon as it started howling the parents removed it from the gallery so as not to disturb people. Strange behaviour: no UKian parents would dream of doing such a thing.
Pretty interesting. They've got a lot of big six-foot canvases, and display them next to the full-size oil sketches; quick, blurred versions of the same scenes done to capture the light and moment. Very much like impressionistic paintings, though Constable reworked his canvases substantially afterwards, merrily moving boats, carts and buildings around to improve the composition.
Also an interesting gadget: a screen mapped to a camera or sensor facing the visitor, which flicks sections between an actual painting and an X-ray of a previous version, so you can move in and out and watch the figures disappear.
Sleep. Dunno if this happens to other people. Haven't been sleeping well for a while, but have got 4 to 5 hours per night, which leaves me slightly black-eyed but fairly functional. Then I got one really good, full night's sleep of over 8 hours... and the next day I'm utterly knackered, grouchy, irritable and with a complete lack of ability to concentrate.
The light might be the problem though I've put up an extra improvised curtain. Might try looking for one of those eye-masks neurotic housewives wear in movies.
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