The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. Picaresque, bloody, half-comic Western about two brothers on a mission to assassinate a man in the Gold Rush. As is usual for brothers working as hired killers, one is a ruthless psychopath, the other has a sentimental side and pangs of conscience; the soft-hearted one is the protagonist here.
It's well done, with a good sense of place, larger-than-life characters, and some good set pieces. But it didn't seem quite up to the standards of Joe Lansdale who pretty much has the patent on this kind of fiction; not quite as funny, not quite as grotesque. From the blurbs it does feel like another case of a "mainstream" labelled writer getting credit while someone characterised as genre gets ignored.
Overall though, pretty entertaining.
What I'm Reading 2
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Novel set in ancient Greece about the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. In the Iliad, Patroclus was Achilles' favourite companion , whose death led to Achilles breaking his sulk and rejoining the war. Homer says little about their relationship, but classical Greeks speculated that they were lovers.
The novel refreshingly doesn't try to historicize the Iliad: gods, centaurs and prophecies appear freely. The first half deals with the youthful romance between the pair, the second half covers the Trojan war. The chief irony is that Patroclus knows that Achilles will die young, and agonises over how he will cope with the death, not realising that he will go first.
I really liked reading this. It paints a great picture of mythological Greece, not shying away from the casual and accepted brutality of history, but still with a sense of wonder at gods and monsters and natural beauty.
The downside is that the romance feels a bit Mills-and-Boony, especially the sex scenes which strive a bit too hard to be tasteful. It's hard for a straight man to know how realistically a woman is writing about a gay male relationship, but it felt a bit artificial to me.
Overall though, a good book.
What I'm Watching
Saw Thor: Ragnarok. Not a deep movie but a lot of fun. Reminiscent of the 1980s Flash Gordon movie, it manages the tricky job of being funny and tongue in cheek in the format of a big effects movie. Some of the dialogue is improvised which keeps it a bit fresher. Plot is entirely predictable and revealed by the trailers, and the effects are weightless CGI. But there are good supporting performances keeping it interesting: especialy Jeff Goldblum as the camp Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson as the drunk Valkyrie, and writer-director Taika Waititi as the inept rebel gladiator Korg. Even manages to sneak a memorable tune into a Marvel soundtrack by using Immigrant Song for Thor. Well worth seeing.
I managed to snatch a look atthe Scythians exhibition at British Museum as we were meeting some relatives there and arrived earlier. Had to go round with the toddler in tow though, and he wasn't very impressed at all, and had to rush. Seemed like a good exhibition. The highlights are the gold belt decorations, usually depicting struggling animals; but there are also archaelogical remnants and artists impressions of how these ancient people looked. Seemed good but not enough time to appreciate it.
Going on a 5 day business trip to Eastern Europe at the end of the month, haven't been on one in a long time. Will be a bit crap: budget is tight with hand-luggage-only economy flights, and previous hotels have apparently been horrible with nasty smells from the drains. Very good that I can go though: the other guys do lots of these trips and it's looked bad that I keep ducking them.
Had one of those ultra-low tides and walked around on the bed of the Thames with the toddler. Was interesting but didn't find any bronze age swords, pirate treasure or even Victorian coins. Lots of shells there which I wasn't expecting.
Running going well. Intervals seem to be having an impact after I flatlined for a bit, shaved 9 seconds per kilometer off my time on my usual route when I pushed. Not sure if wrist based heart rate sensor is accurate. A week ago ran same route with average 167, peak 190. Now with a a faster run the heary rate was average 135, peak 154, so slower heart rate for a faster run.
Socioeconomics. Reawakening conference: beyond disappointment.
Politics. latte Socialists to Gauche Caviar: luxury leftwingers around the world. Scottish tax-raising powers have been booby trapped by Westminster.
Video. Gatwick airport drone disruption.
Fiction. The worst muse.
Sci/Tech. Mastodon language popularities.
Pics. Thor's Helmet nebula.
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