The Library at Mount Char

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

This is one book that could do with the cleaning up of of TV-script writer. There’s so much violence, described in detail, that could be put away behind an (atmospheric) description or implication instead.

While the plot’s got plenty of things going for it. Mysterious not-alien, godlike but not gods creatures that look like humans, call themselves librarians but are able to do about anything? International mythic elements used to show these skills and knowledge, and something going on underneath the surface to spur things into action? Yes, yes, and yes.

But then there’s a conclusion that can elicit little more than a ‘mwoh’, possibly also because you’ve been beaten into a pulp by all the abuse, rape, murder and torture.  So maybe Scott Hawkins can release his notes about the world he build, and give someone else a chance with it. That way we get more of the story behind the librarians, and less of the blood and pain that made them the way they are.

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins, Crown Publishers 2015

Lies of Silence

At a quarter to nine, just before going off work, Dillon went down to reception to check the staff roster for tomorrow.

If I manage to pass the first year, I’m going to add a Read-for-school category. No doubt, this one was the coolest one yet.

Lies of Silence reads like a (nineties) Tom Cruise movie. There’s an unlikely hero whom has to choose between his wife and hundreds of innocent lives. There’s an obvious, but mostly incompetent bad guy. And there’s a younger mistress (okay, maybe not completely Tom Cruise movie).

Except this time it’s nineties’ Belfast. No ‘good thing it’s only fiction here’, IRA really used citizens to blow up more – in their eyes wrong – citizens. Michael’s used because of his function and his car, and quickly owning up to his wife about his mistress isn’t the biggest problem in his life any more.

Brian Moore keeps up the tempo, and the book just being 250 pages allow me to use the comparison with a nineties Tom Cruise movie again. Things move fast; the book just leaves you with the reminder that this is recent history.

Lies of Silence, Brian Moore, Vintage 1999

Rich People Problems

PROBLEM NO. 1

Your regular table at the fabulous restaurant on the exclusive island where you own a beach house is unavailable.

Follow up from Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, now with even some issues that everyone that isn’t a billionaire or millionaire could relate to. Maybe.

Does one read books of these series for recognising situations from their own lives? Probably not. Bring in the details about the clothes, the planes, the houses, the spending.

Again, there’s so many characters that the genealogy in front of the book can be helpful. The author ramps up the amount of notes as well, this time using them (more often) to comment, instead of to explain. But in between all of that is a brightly coloured, very expensive (looking) story full of dramatics and diamonds. It’s silly, it’s superficial, it’s quite delicious (especially in between Year of Wonders and writing essays about The Catcher in the Rye).

Rich People Problems, Kevin Kwan, Doubleday 2017

The Good Place

26x 20 min.

Wat is dit voor leuke onzin? Het zag er leuk en helder gekleurd uit (á la Pushing Daisies, dat ik altijd als standaard voor ‘TV met felle kleuren’ zal gebruiken), en online was er enthousiasme voor, maar nog niet op de vervelende door-de-strot manier. The-Good-Place-poster

Blijkt het stiekem geen onzin. Maar toch ook wel, maar dat moet je zelf ontdekken. Kort gezegd: Eleanor is nogal een eikel, sterft en komt in The Good Place terecht. Hier komen activisten, professoren, zeer goede mensen terecht. En zij dus, en ze heeft vrij snel door dat ze er niet hoort. Maar ja, als je elke keer hoort dat de andere optie vliegende vier-koppige beren zijn ..

Eleanor probeert dus een beter mens te worden. De mensen om haar heen maken het er niet makkelijker op.

Het is een snelle, lichte serie met genoeg kneepjes waardoor het allemaal net wat scherper wordt. En het staat hier op Netflix, dus je kan er helemaal snel en soepel doorheen schieten.

The Good Place, NBC 2016

Girls Trip

162 min.

Well, never a dull moment. Not that I expected anything else, the trailer was already filled with peeing in public, sexual innuendos (and just plain comments), yelling, laughing and loud messes. You saw it with The Hangover and the dozens of similar girls-trip-postermovies, now it’s the turn of the girls.

As in every buddy-on-the-road movie there’s familiar types for everyone to recognise themselves in. The loud one, the disillusioned one, the boring one, the one (seemingly) complete in control. They haven’t seen each other in years because of some disgruntlement(s), served up whenever the speed needs to be picked up again.

Sometimes it’s a bit too loud and too crass, but the majority of the time it’s the silly fun that’s almost always welcome. Also; try to catch it in the cinema (or a large(r) group), the crowd definitely completes the experience.

Girls Trip, Universal Pictures 2017

The Help

Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960.

There was a book before the film. And yes, this is another one for college. Also another one I prefer over The Catcher in the Rye.

It’s the segregation years of the sixties in the USA. White women are housewives, black women are housemaids. They are expected to do everything, but are rewarded by little to no appreciation and always have being fired hanging over them. The majority of them are little more than paid slaves, which is something that Skeeter also discovers when she comes up with the idea to write the stories of housemaids. It doesn’t land well with a lot of people.

In the book there’s not just Aibileen’s point of view, but also Minny’s, and Skeeter’s. With the first two the reader gets two different minds and views on the same subjects, while Skeeter is the alien out.

The Help is such an easy read that when the uglier subjects pop up and disasters happen, it almost shocks you out of the pale pastels and superficial happiness everyone seems to abide by.

I expect I have to read it for the vocabulary used, I read it to discover if it was less coddling than the film. It was.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett, Penguin Group 2009