Hot Milk

Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this, and I finished it two days ago. What’s the genre? How do I feel about it? Would I recommend it, and to whom? Well, at least it’s original (urgh, worst argument)!

Hot Milk is the story of Sofia and Rose. Sofia is the daughter taking care of her mother, who has strange symptoms no-one can diagnose in a successful way. Rose is the mother, the ball and chain of her adult daughter, suffering all kind of mental and physical aches. They end up in Spain for a specialist that might be their last chance.

Sounds pretty straight forward, but the story quickly goes of the rails in an almost fevered matter. The relationship between Rose and Sofia is far from healthy, but Sofia’s relationship with the world outside of Rose is unstable and confusing as well. Then there’s the specialist, whom seems to go for something between mad scientist and rich hermit. It feels a bit like an ugly, depraved version of magic realism, with the heat and discomfort sensible.

So …you could read it, if you don’t mind feeling annoyed and uncomfortable from time to time. It gets under the skin, I just can’t say if you’d like it there.

Hot Milk, Deborah Levy, Penguin Books 2016

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Wynonna Earp

13 x 40 min.

You want some small town western in your Buffy, with focus on more women than a Firefly? Here you go!

wynonna_earp_posterWynonna Earp needs a bit of an investment, largely because of the grumpy and not instantly love-able title character (hmm, how different would that be if she would have been a guy?). But if you can give her a break (she’s got a proper motivation, after all), you are welcomed into a diverse world full of nasties and a heroine that honestly, completely, excusez-le-mot, doesn’t give a fuck.

This creates a messy thrill, speeding along in such a way that plot bumps or disbeliefs don’t have room for growing. Go for the demon-vigilante with bisexual sidekick ride, yiha!

Wynonna Earp, SyFy 2016 (first season on Netflix)

Caterpillars Can’t Swim

“Go!”

So I discovered something new (NetGalley), and now I’m sure I’ll never want for something to read ever again. If the subscriptions to two international libraries and Overdrive weren’t going to take care of that, of course.

To the book. Young Adult with the main character having cerebral palsy, living in a very small town and saving another male teen that might not want to be saved. But still, pulling someone out of the water creates a connection.

Ryan feels responsible for Jack after that, even though Jack and Ryan’s best friend Cody try to stop making him feel so. Jack’s not the best, most social, fun loving guy around, while Cody is the pretty stereotypical jock.

What Liane Shaw does – and very nicely so – isn’t hurry either of them into a corner. Yes, someone’s disabled, but not his disability. Yes, someone’s gay, but not his sexuality. And yes, the jock can learn. All characters get room for development, and that doesn’t happen often enough.

It makes for a sweet, soft story, and a nice start of my Netgalley experience.

Caterpillars Can’t Swim, Liane Shaw, Second Story Press 2017

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

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

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 Dark Tower

95 min.

Tsja. Het had heel veel kunnen zijn, een film over de fantasy scifi van-alles boekenserie van Stephen King. In plaats daarvan probeerde het vooral even van alles aan te stippen, zonder al te veel op te letten op wat het bronmateriaal aanbood.

the dark tower movie posterDus wordt er een jongen toegevoegd, en details van zo’n zes boeken rond gesprenkeld. Hij heeft visioenen van een andere wereld met daarin een donkere toren, maar dan blijkt hij nodig voor de doelen van de slechterik, dus mag hij ook die andere wereld in. Gelukkig is er een held, de laatste van zijn soort, en daardoor emotioneel op de standaard Remi-manier.

Idris Elba (de held) doet nog wel zijn best, en je gunt hem een spin off of op zijn minst een mini-serie waarin we meer van zijn achtergrond leren. De slechterik lijkt vooral een donkere outfit genoeg motivatie te vinden om slecht te zijn. Er wordt niet genoeg gedeeld, en moeten we ons echt wel zorgen maken als de toren valt?

Men zou bezig zijn met een televisieserie voor de boeken. Geef Elba nog een keer een kans, en laten we de rest vergeten.

The Dark Tower, Sony 2017