We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Cult novel about a teenage girl living in a small, eccentric family in Vermont in the wake of deaths in the family. (I always used to get it confused with I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith,a cult novel about a teeange girl living in a small, eccentric family in England in the wake of deaths in the family, but they're different.)
Overall pretty good: the characters are grotesque but compelling and it has vivid descriptions of a claustrophobic life. However I didn't find the plot very interesting It seemed very obvious from the start who the poisoner was and it's hard to warm to the snobbish narrator.
What I'm Reading 2
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan. Mainstream author tries out science fiction. The book is set in an intriguing parallel universe where Alan Turing survived and revolutionised the computer industry. It's set in an early Eighties of Margaret Thatcher and the Falklands War, but everyone has laptops and mobile phones, and most cars are self-driving electric models. The political developments are fascinating especially when Tony Benn becomes Prime Minister. I found it hard to reconcile the Eighties grimness with the technology though: why's everyone so broke when British-led technology is all over the place?
The main plot has an unsympathetic protagonist buying one of the first of a new model of android, while also building a relationship with his girlfriend who wants to adopt a child. He's not an appealing character and acts stupidly in various ways. I liked the depiction of the android, who is fully worked out and is neither just another person nor a cypher. He uses his high-speed processing to compose thousands of not-very-good haikus, and eventually acts in logical ways that a human would not.
Overall I liked the book: slow at times, but has some great ideas mixed in.
What I'm Reading 3
The Prison Doctor by Amanda Brown. Autobiography of a doctor who went to work in prisons after becoming disenchanted with her target-driven GP practice. Has some interesting anecdotes but doesn't shed that much light on the prison system
What I'm Reading 4
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds. Short science fiction novel about ex-military passengers from different sides in a war awakening from suspended animation in a starship. Liked it a lot, not an absolute classic but very well-crafted and without any wasted space: refreshing in an age of drawn-out series.
What I'm Watching
Saw Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood at the cinema. Quentin Tarantino movie about an actor in career decline in Hollywood in 1969, and his stuntman sidekick. Not bad, has some nice period touches and cute details Like Sharon Tate in the cinema and how a stuntman fixes a TV aerial. I found it a bit dull for long stretches though, especially the interminable driving around scenes and the ending was exactly what I expected given Inglourious Basterds.
Socioeconomics. Housing first polices help homelessness.
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