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

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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

Snowflower and the Secret Fan

I am what they call in our village “one who has not yet died” – a widow, eighty years old.

I allowed myself another book in between the ones school wants me to read. As I started The Catcher in the Rye, I really needed it.

It probably couldn’t be more different from that novel if I’d consciously gone looking for it. Snowflower and the Secret Fan is in nineteenth century China, the main character a girl the reader follows into adulthood. Lily has the firm belief that she isn’t worth anything, solely by being a girl. She will be someone’s wife some day, someone’s mother some day, but herself? Just a burden.

Feet are still bound in that century, and Lily goes through it. Small, beautiful feet will make her chances for a husband better, for starters. Before that relationship is created by planners and family, another connection is laid: with a girl that will become her sister, her other half: ‘laotong‘. With her comes the fan from the title, and that fan is written in ‘nu shu, the women’s language.

And this way, Lily can share her story. There’s ordinary life and hopes and dreams, disease and disaster. Lisa See puts you on her door step, showing a historical reality so incredibly foreign to me.

The story is fiction, the elements used in it not. I’d recommend this for anyone interested in those that move within a women’s constraints. In China, this time.

Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See, Random House 2005

Year of Wonders

I used to love this season.

This is the first of the books I have to read for school. Lies of Silence, Catcher in the Rye, The Help and The Tortilla Curtain will follow.

Looking at that list, and having already read two of those, I know I could have done a lot worse.

Year of Wonders is about the plague. An English village in the 1660s gets hit by the disease and decides to quarantine itself, an element that’s based on a real story. Of course that doesn’t go well with everyone, and doesn’t the plague refrain from laying waste to it.

Main character Anna is not completely inner circle, but not a complete outsider either, giving a(n usually) sensible view to the happenings of small village life. When she loses her control of her emotions, it’s all the more painful and uncomfortable; because if she can’t handle it any more, who else will?

It’s a book on ordinary happiness, family life, small minded judgment, feminism and religion. Maybe I’ll change my mind about appreciating it when I have to write a 2000 word essay on it, but for now; an addition for many to read lists.

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, Penguin Books 2002

Toen ik uit de lucht viel

Veel mensen vragen zich af hoe ik het voor elkaar krijg om toch steeds weer in een vliegtuig te stappen.

De complete titel op de voorkant van dit boek is Toen ik uit de lucht viel – en als enige een vliegtuigongeluk overleefde – hoe het oerwoud mijn leven redde en dat is wel een redelijk complete samenvatting van dit verhaal.

Waargebeurd, dus dan is er altijd iets meer ruimte om zulke manoeuvres te accepteren zonder al te veel kritiek. Want allememachies, Juliane Koepcke is dus écht uit een vliegtuig gevallen en heeft het overleefd, in een oerwoud, met maden in haar wonden, een zware hersenschudding en alleen wat zuurtjes voor de lekkere trek.

De rest van het boek wordt gevuld met het (vroege) (gezins)leven van Koepcke, daarmee niet alleen onderbouwing gevend voor de claims op de voorpagina, maar ook de boel aan het opvullen voor een kleine 300 pagina’s. Met daarnaast ook nog ruimte om de pers eens flink aan te spreken op brongebruik.

Het merendeel leest heel makkelijk weg, en de hoofdstukken over tijdens en na het vliegtuigongeluk zijn bijna te bizar om te bevatten. Voor zoiets mag de verdere aankleding best een beetje onevenwichtig zijn.

Toen ik uit de lucht vielen als enige een vliegtuigongeluk overleefde, Juliane Koepcke, House of Books 2012