Finished short French novel How's the Pain by Pascal Garnier, about a sick and aging exterminator who meets a young man while on his last job.
Liked it a lot. Thought it might be depressing, but it's actually very funny, especially with the odd-couple relationship. Also has a lot of poignancy as several elderly people face their mortality. And French hitmen seem to be the coolest hitmen.
What I'm Reading 2
Finished The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman. Picked it up on a whim in the library because it looked fun at a flick-through. Plot has a lovelorn set designer move from Weimar Berlin to Los Angeles in pursuit of a girl.
Finished it, but didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped. It's a bit too smart-arsed. Has a deliberately obnoxious antihero called "Loeser" as the protagonist, who ignores the rise of the Nazis as he's not very interested in politics. Mentions Brecht a lot and has a lot of alienation stuff to stop you getting too into the story, and a character who's written a historical novel carefully explains how it doesn't matter if a historical novel is hopelessly anachronistic HINT HINT.
Problem is that it's not really funny enough to compensate for the lack of a sympathetic protagonist or a meaningful plot, so I found myself impatiently tapping as I waited to get it over with.
Might work better if you haven't read much metafictional comedy though. If you haven't read Robert Rankin or Jasper Fforde it might seem fresher.
Saw Liola at the National Theatre. Adaptation of a Pirandello play set in rural Sicily. Has a complicated semi-farcical plot: the local landowner, fed up of being mocked for his lack of children, when his niece gets pregnant falsely pretends to be the father, deciding its less shameful to be an adulterer than infertile.
It's not quite a musical but has plenty of songs. The production has a vaguely Irish theme in terms of accents and music, which actually works pretty well. Who knows, maybe global warming will end up with olive and almond trees in County Cork.
Fairly light, but entertaining and well acted, with a charismatic performance from Rory Keenan as the local rake Liola.
Well worth a look. There are some £12 tickets and we got them same-day, which is a great offer for a show with a large cast and musicians in central London.
Saw the recent movie of Anna Karenina on DVD. It's got favourable but slightly mixed reviews, some seem to have been put off by the theatrical theme.
It starts off as a kind of theatrical production, with the footlights visible and scenery and flats moving behind the cast, regularly breaks out into the open with scenes in wide fields, but occasionally returns to the theatre.
I thought that actually worked brilliantly. The story I think is a bit too melodramatic to be played absolutely straight without seeming ridiculous: the theme gives it a slight sense of artificiality. That helps the cast let rip with some great performances. Kiera Knightley is a decent Anna, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a plausibly dashing Vronsky, and Domhnall Gleeson is brilliant as Levin. Great script from Tom Stoppard too.
Overall, I really loved it. But if you can't handle a bit of pretentiousness, you might well hate it.
Saw Robot and Frank on disk. In the near future, a retired cat burglar with a fading memory enlists his helper robot in new heists.
Kind of a bittersweet comedy, tending more to the sweet but with some poignant moments. Not that many laughs, but a brilliant performance from Frank Langella.
I liked the robot too: instead of too much CGI they have a dancer in a suit, doing a great job of imitating the jerky shuffling movements of Asimo.
Saw the Alternative Guide to the Universe exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Brilliant display of outsider art, with a vague science-fictional theme, many of the artists either officially insane or teetering on the borders of sanity. Great displays verging from professional-looking diagrams and posters to sketches an models of impossible buildings.
Some of the ideas are brilliantly batty, like the guy who explains that gravity is an illusion: in reality the Earth is rising, doubling in size every 19 minutes.
Lots of great stuff to see, well worth a look.
Politics. Why some movements work and others wilt. Escape from UKIP. The next moves in the Spooks v. News cold war, 13 things the US Government is trying to hide, Security services now applying "deny and disrupt" to journalism as well as terrorism, NSA losing the benefit of the doubt.
Pics. John Schoenherr's Dune illustrations. Control panels. 1926 "Chorus girl using electric massage vibrator". First painting of a guinea pig? Hilda the vintage plus-sized pin-up girl, via. Radio nut, 1924. Stanley Kubrick's NYC subway photos.
Family. Why you should have a Family mission statement. Daily Mash: I can't take it much longer without going insane, says proud dad William
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