You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld – I have been sitting on this book of short stories for a couple of years after it was recommended to me. But with her new novel coming out, everyone was jumping on the bandwagon (grrr, I hate that). So I finally delved into it, and was so impressed. Her writing is great, sharp and observational of modern behaviour. It is inclusive, feminist and political. I laughed out loud a lot, many of the stories were satire, and I knew a lot of the people she was writing about. Her characters are really honest and interesting and insightful. I cannot wait for Rodham!
After Australia edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad – this is a great compilation of short stories and poetry from a range of indigenous and poc Australian writers. They imagine an alternative Australia in terms of race and other issues. The stories stop and make you think, they make you smile and they make you frown. They are beautifully written, mostly by up and coming authors too. Really worth a look at.
Broken Open by Craig Hamilton with Neil Jameson – after ‘working’ with Craig Hamilton on air the other month, I thought it was timely to revisit his memoir from 2004. It is the memoir of his life so far, but it is really about his breakdown in 2000, what led up to it, and how he has dealt with it since. This is a really honest account of a very confronting time and it is an important read, especially for men. Men often ignore their mental health, so this is a great read to show what can happen and that it is ok and you can resolve things. In these Covid times, when everyone is experiencing some kind of change, this is a timely read for everyone.
Notre-Dame de Paris: history, art, and revival from 1163 to tomorrow by Antonia Felix – this is a lovely coffee table book full of stunning photography from over the years. It covers the history of the Notre-Dame, the art within, what is has been and is used for and the recent fire. There are also little stories, and references to movies and songs and other arts that feature the cathedral.
The Body: a guide for occupants by Bill Bryson - I love Bill, I love his dry sense of humour and his interest in the minutiae. I love listening to him read his books even more. So I was very excited to get his latest on talking book, but I had to abandon it halfway. He was Bill, it was dry and it was interesting, but The Body is a challenging subject, and a lot of the information was dire, especially in these Covid times. I simply found it too depressing to listen to. I will pick it up another time for sure. It was interesting and full of amazing detail, but it was just too much.
Growing up Gay in Australia, edited by Benjamin Law - a great compilation of hilarious, and heart breaking in equal measures. Short stories, edited by Benjamin Law, and featuring a wonderful list of famous and not so famous writers. I listened the the talking book and didn't want it to end, highly recommend.
Hairdresser’s Husband - rewatched this modern French classic thanks to SBS World Movies. Written and directed by the great Patrice Leconte with Jean Rochefort as the older Antoine. As a child Antonie falls in love with his hairdresser and that is his only wish in life and at 50 he meets Mathilde, a hairdresser, and they embark on a love affair. But all is not as rosy in Leconte’s world. This is a gorgeous, melancholy film with a twist that haunts…much like many of his films. I have not seen this film in years and it holds up beautifully.
Country Music - this was a long form documentary but the master, Ken Burns, and it was extraordinary, from the very beginning to the mid 90s and everything in between. Lots of appropriate country artists talking about each other and the music, the glorious music. This is for lovers of music, and if you don't like classic country, you will be the end.
PJ Harvey: a dog called money – this is an ‘interesting’ documentary about the process of recording her 2016 album, The Hope Six Demolitian Project. A lot of the songs are political and taken from her travels. The intent and desire is there, and the songs are quire wonderful but there is something empty about the whole process. The footage of Harvey in these countries, mostly third world and middle eastern, doesn’t really show her connecting with anyone despite being there and taking copious notes. She is never really interviewed in why she has written what she has, possibly thinking the songs will speak for themselves. In some ways they do, in others not so much. Her musicians/band do not even seem to be connecting with her, saying on a previous album they were getting close to a tour and hadn’t heard a single song and were getting worried, and she turns up with a fully made album, leaves them the CD to play, makes a cuppa tea and leaves them alone. I guess this is telling to her personality. It was fascinating to watch, and the music varied and sublime, but there was too much distance.
Chromatica by Lady GaGa – I am not a huge GaGa fan, but I don’t mind her singing, especially when she sings properly – she has a lovely operatic voice. The new album was good, poppy and a good groove, not too over produced.
Love is here to stay by Tony Bennett and Diana Krall – stunning album of standards from the masters. Their voices sound sublime together and then there is Diana’s unique piano playing. Jazz at its best.
Julia and Hilary - I am loving Julia Gillard's podcast, she interviews a whole range of fascinating women but her interview with Hilary Clinton was the female partnership I didn't know I needed. Absolutely brilliant, go and listen to it now!
Unspooled Finale - Casablanca and recap - I have been listening to this podcast for about 2 years now. The premise was to take the AFI (American Film Industry) Top 100, rewatch each film randomly and then review them. Amy and Paul are young, and in the film industry as reviewers and participants. I loved it when they loved films I loved, and got cranky when they got stuck into films I really liked. They looked at things from today;s perspective and they made decisions on whether each film was worthy of being on the list, what they would replace it with and so on. I also loved it when they reviewed a film they had never seen before, especially if they loved it, it almost was like re-discovering old friends. Often they interviewed people involved in the films. and they always looked to The Simpsons for a recreation, lol! The final film was Casablanca and what a fitting end, my all time favourite film. I have not watched it for a long time and I was actually in tears through a lot of their chatter, they loved it so much. And I was sad to see the end, the very last podcast was a recap on their findings which was also fascinating. If you love classic film, or want to know more about it, this is THE podcast to listen too. They are returning with a new season, looking at the films they would add into the top 100, so that will be fun I am sure. Cannot wait.