I haven’t been doing a lot of extra reading this month, mainly because I am up to my oxters in reading and planning for Reading Ireland Month which starts next week.
Every so often I like to read the latest buzz thriller, and Girl A by Abigail Dean certainly fitted the bill. It’s being marketed along the lines of Gone Girl (to which it bears little resemblance) but I didn’t find it quite as shocking or intense as the early PR would suggest. Lex Gracie is known to the world as Girl A, the girl who escaped her parents ‘House of Horrors’ where she and her siblings were abused. When their mother dies in prison, the remaining family must decide what to do with the infamous family home and come to terms with what was done to them. Girl A is a perfectly serviceable, readable thriller, but I found some characters to be thinly sketched and the timeline to be so all over the place as to be occasionally confusing. It’s fine, but I doubt I’ll remember much about it in a few months.
No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood is a completely different prospect altogether. As I’d read another social-media themed book last month – Fake Accounts – I wasn’t quite sure whether this one was a good idea, but I enjoyed it a whole lot more than I expected. To say it is a book of two halves is an understatement, and the nature of the narrative is such that it is hard to talk about the much stronger second half due to spoilers.
The first half is written in the style of one great big Twitter scroll and explores the life of a woman who has become famous from an viral tweet ‘Can a dog be twins?’. As she travels the world speaking at conferences, the shallow nature of her life in the ‘portal’ as she calls the internet, is perfectly skewed. Her life, and the book, changes completely when she receives a message from her pregnant sister with some bad news.
The second half of the book contains some very beautiful writing and is a visceral and emotional account of the effect of trauma on a family. If I’m honest, I wish some of that insight had gone into the earlier pages, however Lockwood is a poetic writer and this has much to recommend it.
I have been so keen to see Saint Maud for a while now and it did not disappoint. Billed as a horror, it is more gothic than frightening. Morfydd Clarke is a revelation as Maud, a private nurse who has been sent to care for Amanda, a once famous dancer now dying of cancer. While dealing with her own past trauma, the overtly religious Maud becomes obsessed with saving her patient’s soul. This is a terrifying exploration of faith and madness written and directed by Rose Glass and is all the more remarkable for being her debut.
I Care A Lot isn’t subtle by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a slice of nasty fun. Rosamund Pike (who really just needs to play baddies from now on) is fantastic as Marla, a grifter who cons old people out of their estates by giving them a fake dementia diagnosis. Her latest mark is Jennifer Peterson, played by the ever-reliable Dianne Wiest, but this time Marla has picked the wrong OAP to mess with. Featuring great outfits, a ludicrous plot full of holes and Peter Dinklage as a Russian Mafia boss, this is a ridiculous but enjoyable movie. If you enjoy a movie where everyone is horrible that is…
Finally, if you feel like having your heart broken, stamped on and handed back to you then I can highly recommend Divines a stunning piece of French cinema directed by Houda Benyamina. It starts out like a female version of La Haine, but develops into a wonderful exploration of poverty, escape and female friendship. It features a star-making performance from Oulaya Amamra and an ending that is guaranteed to leave you in pieces. I loved it.
I’ve also been checking out some new podcasts. I listened to the brilliant Where Is George Gibney? about the disgraced Irish Olympic swimming coach and after a few Twitter recommendations, have started Wind of Change, which features Say Nothing author Patrick Raden Keaffe exploring the theory that the Scorpions soft rock anthem Wind of Change may have been written by the CIA. I kid you not….
I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!