Did you hear about the Morgans?

103 min.

Hey, er zijn nog wel onschuldige, niet-frustrerende Hollywood romcoms in deze eeuw gemaakt. In Did you hear about the Morgans? mag Hugh Grant het weer eens proberen, dyhatm posteren doet Sarah Jessica Parker mee als een mildere versie van haar Sex & the City karakter.

Ze spelen een kibbelend stel dat vanuit New York City noodgedwongen vertrekt naar een gat in de MidWest van de VS. Men laat er de autosleutels in de auto’s zitten!

Genoeg elementen om een arsenaal van tenenkrommende clichés te openen, maar iedereen houdt zich in en houdt het bij een charmant plotje dat iedereen menselijk houdt. Men leert zelfs van elkaar.

En zo heb je een film waar je nergens hoeft door te spoelen of weg te kijken, maar gewoon met een zoet en zacht gevoel kan blijven zitten.

Did you hear about the Morgans?, Columbia Pictures 2009

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Hex

Stefan de Graaf kwam juist op tijd om de hoek van het parkeerterrein achter de Nico de Witt-supermarkt gerend om te zien hoe Katharina van Wijler werd overreden door een antiek draaiorgel.

Net zoals bij The Library at Mount Char is dit verhaal helemaal klaar voor televisie of film. En ook hier zou het best flink minder kunnen wat betreft geweld, deze keer bijna exclusief gericht op vrouwen.

Beek is geen dorp zoals andere Nederlandse dorpen, Beek heeft een eeuwenoude heks. In het dagelijks leven is ze redelijk rustig, zolang je haar maar met rust laat en het dorp niet te lang verlaat. Natuurlijk gebeuren er meerdere dingen waardoor de rust helemaal en compleet vernietigd wordt.

Maar de weg daar naar toe is vol in detail beschreven geweld en horror. Ja, daar is het dan ook een boek voor uit het horrorgenre. Maar moet het zo van-dik-hout-zaagt-men-planken? De conclusie wordt er ook met dikke spijkers ingeslagen, waardoor je makkelijk hoofdstukken kunt overslaan: het zal later toch nog eens allemaal verteld worden.

Dus ja, spannend materiaal, maar er kan nog wel een (televisieschrijvende) redacteur over heen.

Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Luitingh-Sijthoff 2013

Every Heart a Doorway

The girls were never present for the entrance interviews.

I always feel so fancy when I’m offered books, even though it’s through a subscription and it’s me and a gazillion others. Hey, it’s still a free (e)book!

Every Heart a Doorway had been mentioned in the online reader circles I visit, viewing it as the Messiah of LGBQT-friendly YA versus ‘there was an attempt’. So basically, the usual range of opinions online.

All the characters in this tiny novel (little over 100 pages) once visited a fairy-ish world and are now back in the world as we know it. To deal with this, and to temper their hopes on ever return again, they’re at a school. Some come from gruesome worlds involving death and/or vampires, some lived in technicolour happy worlds.

Like being lost in your supposed home world isn’t enough to deal with, murders start to happen.

I’m on the ‘moh’ side of opinions. This novel feels like a set up for something bigger and possibly better. And LGBQT-friendly? One of the characters seems to be trans*, while an other calls herself asexual. It’s mentioned in passing, not as a main, defining point. Which is good, but I wouldn’t use it as its unique selling point. What is? I don’t really think it has one.

Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire,

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 realise 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