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Media Monday

"Media" might be stretching it a bit this week, as (aside from Doctor Who) I've only watched Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. And it has just ended again. Woe. I don't think there's anything about that adaptation that I didn't like. Even the extra bits that weren't in the book worked perfectly (I'm thinking of the short hand needed to get characters into certain places, without the long narrative sequences of the book. Strange being arrested and escaping from prison, for example). And the whole thing is so gorgeously shot. The fellow behind the adaptation, Peter Harness, is adapting War Of The Worlds for the BBC at the moment. A period production, which is vanishingly rare for that book, and apparently scheduled for broadcast next year. Rather looking forward to seeing what he does with that. It's a great story.

Elsewhere, I've been doing some quite interesting reading. I've taken to librarying, and choosing books completely at random, without reading their synopses even. It's a fun experiment, as it means that I've been reading things that I never would have done otherwise. Mixed results, obviously, but I think I was trying to recapture the lack of preconception that I had as a kid, when I really would try anything. Sometimes it works well, and sometimes...!

One experiment was Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, which is about the build up to, and aftermath of, a shooting spree at an American high school, when an endlessly bullied boy snaps. Good attempts to get into the head of a boy pushed to his limit, whilst also offering no simple explanations or solutions. Also a good sketching of the mindset of popular kids, and how some people will always be popular, and some just never will be.

Another experiment was Rabbit, Run by John Updike, which apparently is a sixties classic. Less successful from my point of view than the Picoult book though! A rather pathetic young man, feeling that the world owes him something, drifts aimlessly from wife to mistress, hurting everybody and unable to commit. He's not supposed to be likeable, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable (for me anyway). I can see why it's a classic though. Must have been a heck of a shock to the system for American literature at the time.

Then I read a book called Packing For Mars: The Curious History Of Life In The Void by Mary Roach, which is about the history of space exploration, and absolutely fascinating. Mary Roach isn't a scientist, so there isn't as much depth in her book as I would usually want, but she makes up for that with sheer entertainment. Wonderful, often very funny tales of life as an astronaut, and about how various techniques were developed to deal with the unique issues of space travel. Fun stuff.

Oh, and another book! An elderly couple of my acquiantance have a book called The Complete Illustrated Cookery Book by Mollie Stanley Wrench. It fascinated me when I took a quick look through it, so I went a-hunting on eBay and bought a copy. It was published in 1935, and it's wonderful! No oven temperatures or gas marks. It tells you to put things on the fire, or on the edge of the fire. No short cuts, but everything to be made from scratch. And the recipes! Brains and feet and tongues. Lots of vegetarian stuff too though, as meat wasn't as easily available in those days, and a lot of people were very badly off. Also a lot of people didn't have any means of keeping food cool, so couldn't store the stuff of course. Lots of curry and chilli still. Some things never change! Frightening amounts of dripping and lard, and cream and butter; and a remarkable desire to smother everything in mayonnaise (home-made of course!).

It's lovely. I recommend it!


( 10 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Jul. 4th, 2017 04:08 am (UTC)
Have you read "The Martian"? Just because you read that book by Mary Roach ... I think you might enjoy that one as it has lots of talk of life as an astronaut and quite a few scientific things as well.
Jul. 4th, 2017 08:39 pm (UTC)
I have read it yes. Didn't like it, which is odd, as it's the sort of thing that I usually like. I should probably try the film.
Jul. 4th, 2017 10:28 am (UTC)
You can always return back to JS&MN again and get sad when it finishes all over again!

Have you tried out any of the cookery book recipes (with or without fire)?
Jul. 4th, 2017 08:41 pm (UTC)
Not yet. I only got the book on Saturday, so there hasn't really been the time. There's a recipe for vegetable mulligatawny soup, and I really like that, so I may give it a go some time. There is also a recipe for kidney soup. I will not be trying that!
Jul. 5th, 2017 12:22 pm (UTC)
Noo, I won't be asking you for the recipe for kidney soup either!
Jul. 4th, 2017 04:20 pm (UTC)
I read Nineteen Minutes years ago. I found it riveting and sad. I tried another Jodi Picoult book - My Sister's Keeper - but I hated the ending and couldn't sympathise with the mother much at all. I haven't read another of hers after that.
Jul. 4th, 2017 08:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, I looked up a few more of her books on Amazon, and that seems a common reaction to "My Sister's Keeper", which I think is her biggest seller. I don't know if I'm tempted to try more of her work. "Nineteen Minutes" was well done, and made a proper attempt to avoid definitely painting anybody as good or bad, but it looks like she's not always that accomplished!
Jul. 8th, 2017 05:50 am (UTC)
loved the JS&MN book, but I really struggled to get into the adaptation. Not sure why, maybe the bits liked about the book, like the footnotes and the little asides, that work really well in the novel don't work on the screen.

I like the idea of random library books. :)
Jul. 8th, 2017 05:08 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can understand that. The book and the adaptation are very different animals, and a big part of the joy of the book was all the side trips and detours courtesy of the footnotes. They probably could have incorporated them into an adaptation, but it would have been a giant, sprawling affair that I can't see the Beeb ever agreeing to! Maybe they could do it with red button optional footnotes!
Jul. 8th, 2017 05:19 pm (UTC)
Red button footnotes :D
They should have done that!
( 10 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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