Sugar Money

I was tethering the cows out by the pond when a boy came into our pasture saying that Father Cléophas himself want to see me tout suite in the morgue.

And even based on true events, although I have to admit that the note from the editor(s) and shared background information took away from the story, for me anyway. I could have not read them, of course.

The story here is how two slaves on Martinique are sent to another island to bring back the slaves the French Fathers think they own while the island is English now. Sounds like nothing could go wrong, right? Nothing fishy at all at sending two slaves to silently invite slaves to move islands.

Lucien and his brother Emile are the ones that are tasked with this, and Lucien is the one telling the story of these few days. He does so in a mix of English, French and Creole, which works well with their surroundings and situation.

The only gripe I have with the story only being about this one event, is that as the reader you feel slightly dropped into someone’s lives and left behind when you (probably) only want to learn more. Maybe Jane Harris should have gone with a bit more creative freedom there. But what she writes, she writes appealingly.

Sugar Money, Jane Harris, Faber & Faber 2017

The Locals

They were saying that all appointments were canceled, indefinitely, that it was the end of everything, but why would they assume that?

Last time I read this author I wasn’t quite sure how to recommend the book, and this time it isn’t much different. There’s an appeal to his writing, but the story? Not just a collection of too human people (you start with the honeymoon phase and you end up wanting to throttle them), but mostly not much happens? So why would I still, pretty surely, recommend this novel?

Maybe because it offers an uncensored view of “normal” Americans outside one of the well known states. Small town in Massachusetts in the aftermath of 9/11, but soon moving their attention back to their small town politics and each other. Not even the rich outsider can change that (permanently).

I like family sagas, following the same people through time and (family) issues. Usually I try to pick less familiar surroundings than western society, but these people are so alienating in their paranoid and petty thoughts, that things turn out pretty exotic after all.

The Locals, Jonathan Dee, Random House 2017

Autoboyography

The end of our final winter break seems almost like the beginning of a victory lap.

Smartest title encountered this year or too thought through? Because y’all, this book is about two young book writers following in love with each other! I think it’s cute, just as the story.

Tanner is a bisexual male teen that kind of goes back into the closet after his family moves to Utah, specifically a town with a Mormon majority. He’s not even out to his best friend, so how do you handle falling in love with the wonderful, beautiful, very Mormon TA?

It would have been easy to turn this into a pro or con story about religion and Mormons, but both authors stick close to the love story and darn, do they do it sweetly. Just like Tanner and Sebastian can’t seem to think about anything else, it’s sometimes a challenge to not discard the pages without them. Will they? Won’t they? In how many ways will organised religion ruin this?

Characters that aren’t these two sometimes get a bit the short end of the stick, but both secondary characters and surroundings make this a cute high school romance.

Autoboyography, Lauren Billings & Christina Hobbs, Simon & Schuster 2017

 

Spiderman Homecoming

133 min.

Ik had niet echt haast om deze te zien, want Marvel biedt toch elke zoveel maanden hetzelfde ‘nieuws’ aan. En dan ook nog een derde nieuwe Spiderman binnen vijftien jaar? Moh. Andermans enthousiasme wat betreft Marvel had me naar Ant-Man geleid, dus dat was ook weinig motiverend.

Spider-Man_Homecoming_posterMaar dan wil je high school comedy en oké Tom Holland (de derde Spiderman) doet het zo leuk en het is zaterdag, dus vooruit. Genoeg excuses.

Gelukkig slaan ze deze keer de spinnenbeet etc over, en mag Peter Parker in zijn eigen wijk bewegen en spelen. Want hoe tof dat superheld-zijn ook is, hij is een tiener. En deze keer is dat echt duidelijk: schoolreisjes, populariteitsstrijd, gala, huiswerk!

Ander pluspunt is de schurk. Geen cartoonish nick name en dubieuze motivatie, maar ‘gewone’ criminaliteit met een alien tintje door de (noodzakelijke) verbinding met eerdere Marvelfilms. En ook daar scoort deze film op, dat die verbinding eens niet door de strot wordt geduwd.

Alles waar ik zin in had dus, en dat voor een Marvelfilm.

Spiderman Homecoming, Marvel 2017

Son of a Trickster

His tiny, tightly permed maternal grandmother, Anita Moody, had never liked him.

This was such a much weirder story than I expected. I expected a YA novel about a dark and moody male teenager that throws in some (Norse) mythology to make it urban fantasy. Instead I got ..what did I precisely get?

Jared is a weed cookie maker, problem finder, care taker for his dad and stepsister, mother and senior neighbours. He almost can’t help himself, taking care while he should be getting some. For a long time this just seems to be it, a story of a screw up screwing up, surrounded by losers and failures. Until it isn’t, and there’s talking ravens and people-eating otters and things you can’t keep blaming on eating mushrooms. Mythology is added, but not in the cookie cutter Marvel way. No Norseman to be found either, because we’re in Canada, and their First Nation People have got some different stories to build on.

Even though the reader knows this isn’t just mushrooms any more, it’s tempting to blame them; the weirdness just builds up with left and right some violence thrown in. Where is this story going, why is main character Jared still at the unlikely part of the trope ‘unlikely hero’? Is this because it’s the first book in a trilogy? Either way, this might be the first YA that leaves you completely bewildered by what you’ve just been put through. And yet I don’t know how I should change anything if I could.

Son of a Trickster, Eden Robinson, Knopf 2017

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Film legend and ’60s It Girl Evelyn Hugo has just announced that she will auction off 12 of her most memorable gowns through Christie’s to raise money for breast cancer research.

No-one is (very) likeable in this story. Not that that is a requirement for a story (in my opinion), nor that it means that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is less accessible and/or entertaining because of it. I’m just saying there isn’t much people to root for.

The stories are entertaining enough, old Hollywood glam with a woman who will do many things to get where she wants to go. Evelyn Hugo is the embodiment of self-made, and now, close to her death, she wants someone to write a biography of her. Journalist Monique doesn’t know why Evelyn picked her all of people to do so but don’t worry: you Will Find Out (dramatic soundtrack).

Per husband, Evelyn explains her life decisions and shares the saucy anecdotes freely. It’s a novel for those that like pretty things; romance and likeability is sacrificed for it. Is it too early to call this a proper beach read?

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Simon & Schuster 2017

God’s Own Country

104 min.

Ik snap wel waarom het gebeurt, maar vind het vaak toch nogal makkelijk: de ene film de [bijvoeglijk naamwoord] [andere film] noemen. Vooral omdat dit schijnbaar vaker gebeurt bij kleinere projecten, want ik heb nog niet gelezen hoe Justice League een zwakkere X-Men is, bijvoorbeeld. God’s Own Country werd verschillende keren de Engelse Brokeback Mountain genoemd, maar mooi niet dus.

Gods Own CountryTen eerste zijn het tenslotte al geen cowboys, Georghe en Johnny. Johnny is de zoon van een chagrijnige boer in een chagrijnig klein dorp, en hij probeert alles buiten zichzelf te houden met heel veel alcohol. Georghe is een seizoensmedewerker uit Roemenië, en godsie wat is ‘ie goed met zijn handen (en lammetjes).

En dan is er het land, wat zo mooi is vastgelegd dat het soms bijna afleidt van deze twee gasten die éindelijk hun eigen ruimte binnen het leven beginnen te bouwen. Het is allemaal zo lief, pijnlijk en diepe-zucht-opwekkend dat je er na met een licht hoofd achterblijft.

God’s Own Country, Met Film Production 2017