First, a question, about your favorite movie set in present-day London. What is it?
My incredible reward for virtue Sunday morning–virtue being that I hauled my ass out the door at nine to go have what turned out to be an exceptionally, yea unfairly robust and demanding hot yoga session–was that when I opened my locker and tried to put my glasses back on, they snapped in my hand.
(Actually, my true reward for virtue is that the incomparable Andrew at 312 Optical assured me that they were still under warranty, and that he would urge the folks who make them to send out the part post-haste so he could fix them. And he had checked all this before I got there, because he follows me on social media.)
I do have back-up glasses, but the lenses are very different. I’m looking at a week or more of underperforming and feeling eyestrainy. And, possibly, being offline a lot. Which is the whole reason I’m telling you this.)
Other nice things that happened this weekend included this fantastic review of A Daughter of No Nation in The Toronto Star, by Marissa Stapely:
The appeal of this series lies in Dellamonica’s thoughtful, penetrating writing … and the effortless way Dellamonica weaves sexually diverse characters into the narrative without making it feel like they’re fulfilling a quota. The overarching sense of social responsibility is refreshing, too. Sophie questions her new world as all young people should: she does not simply let life happen to her, but instead seeks to understand and improve her surroundings.
And Kelly’s posting the TOC for the Gardner Dozois anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Third Annual Collection, which will include her debut story, “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill.”
Blessings, so many blessings. There were fish tacos, and hugs from our favorite baker, some funny posts from an artist friend who’s trying to clean out one of her piles of multimedia supplies, the first few chapters of The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher, chocolate olive-oil cake from Forno Cultura, roasted parsnips and a rewatch of Thor: The Dark World.
Most of all, there was talk of London, London, OMG, London, where Kelly and I will be going, for the first time, in a mere 95 days. Part of the reason for rewatching The Dark World (not that one needs a reason) is that it’s one of the few movies we own that’s set in London now. As opposed to London in the 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, Doctorwhohundreds, etc. The only other one may be Love Actually. Hence my initial question. Because I’m not entirely sure I’m up to rewatching Luther.
“The Glass Galago”
On Wednesday in Saratoga Springs I got to see three variations of this spectacular cover for “The Glass Galago,” which is the third* of The Gales and which will be out in a couple months. Irene Gallo showed me this lush and beautiful Richard Anderson image, and I squealed like a little child newly in possession of all the ice cream.
*The first two Gales are Among the Silvering Herd and The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti.
I am sitting in the hotel room in Saratoga Springs as I write this, checking my UCLA classrooms and talking with my students about what makes a person or non-human character monstrous. They’re asking: is the monstrous always just about making someone Other? Some might say any ordinary person with a defective moral compass–your classic heartless killer or other all-too-human predator– can be a monster. And in non-fiction, that scans for me. If a journalist wants to call Charles Manson a monster, I’m not going to quibble.
In fiction, my taste runs to the more than human monsters. I like for them to have a whiff of the transcendent. In the above series of stories, Gale Feliachild occasionally regards Captain Garland Parrish as monstrous, even though he’s not even remotely evil. He’s overly blessed by nature, you see: impossibly handsome, exceedingly graceful, and good at almost everything he turns his mind to. It’s just about too much. He’s good, but he can easily be jealousy-inducing. We all know people like this: coveting their good fortune makes us feel small, and it’s hard not to blame them.
The current TV version of Hannibal Lecter has an intense aestheticism and is so robustly athletic that he’s as hard to kill as The Terminator. Some of his qualities are appealing–his love is so pure!–and that makes his compulsion to kill and eat the rude all the more awful. And the fact that we can empathize with the idea of quelling the rude, neglectful and genuinely awful people we run across from time to time actually increases the effect… it invites us to consider whether we might not condone more than we should.
Now that the Canadian Federal election is, at long last, over, I feel a need to start a few frivolous conversations. I want to talk about persimmons and weird things I overhear on the street and my cats (still supercute, in case you’re curious) and, of course, television.
As Kelly and I embark on what I think is our second rewatch of Cranford, I want to make sure you all know there are some badass women-driven TV shows happening. I’m not merely talking about Agent Carter–you’ve probably all seen what Peggy’s been getting up to lately. I’m talking about mostly British stuff. Take Scott and Bailey, whose fourth season has been nothing short of mind-blowing. There’s The Crimson Field, Happy Valley, and Bletchley Circle and Call the Midwife. They’re crime shows, war shows, nurse shows. They’re about women pursuing complicated professions and leading complicated lives, and getting all up in each other’s business as they do. Sometimes they help each other. Sometimes they hinder like you would not believe. These babes Bechdel all over the place, if you get what I’m saying.
If you’re missing out, well… you’re missing out.
A Daughter of No Nation is on the Shelfie Top 10 list for Most Anticipated SF and Fantasy books, in great company, with novels by Charlie Jane Anders, Kameron Hurley and Catherynne M. Valente. Review copies of the book are percolating out to the usual (and hopefully a few unusual) suspects. Soon we’ll be hearing what people think of the second installment of Sophie Hansa’s adventures.
I’m finding the prospect a little nerve-wracking. I don’t think there was anyone who absolutely hated Blue Magic. There were a few people whose response came down to “Holy gosh, this book sure do have a lotta queer people in it!” but there’s not much you can do about that except go, “Yep.”
Child of a Hidden Sea, on the other hand, and Sophie in particular got under a few readers’ skins, and not always in a way that led to true and enduring love. I decided to take this as a sign that I’d become better at characterization, especially since most of the reviews were, in fact, raves. Anyway, it might simply be the effect of a lingering head cold, or the fallout from a rather unusual week, but right now I’m thinking my only sane response is to go “La la la, can’t hear you!” and think of something else until my head clears.
Having been to Stratford for the first time this past weekend, and having seen three shows – Carousel, The Alchemist, and She Stoops to Conquer, Kelly and I are finally embarking on watching Slings and Arrows. We’ve had so many chances to do so over the years–I think people have lent us the DVDs on three separate occasions, and we never quite managed to pop one into the gadget before sheepishly returning the disks. It’s been one of those gaps that was almost embarrassing to admit to, what with me being such a raging Paul Gross fan. But it never happened, until now, and it’s almost–but not quite–too dated. It’ll be good prep for seeing His Almighty Grossness and Martha Burns in Domesticated next month.
Kelly has been blogging about our continuing adventures at the Toronto International Film Festival. She has write-ups on Neon Bull and Southbound, 25 April and Faux Depart / Sector 9 IX B, and the film that, so far, is the best thing we’ve seen this week: Jennifer Peedom’s Everest Documentary, Sherpa.
Today’s the final day and we will be seeing two things: Angry Indian Goddesses and London Road. The latter is a film version of a musical we saw at Canadian Stage the week of our 25th anniversary. It’s something called a “verbatim musical,” which means that the playwright recorded interviews from a neighborhood in Ipswich where a serial killer had been active, and then made an audio script for actors to mimic precisely. If that sounds ambitious, then imagine doing the same thing and setting it to music.
Tomorrow we both go back to work! Like all vacations, it’s been incredibly wonderful and too damned short.