a cuckoo calling (jk rowling) & julia shaw’s the illusion of memory

a cuckoo calling

really enjoyable – hard to put down (or a delight to pick up); cormoran strike and robyn are great characters, and the story unwinds and retangles in the manner of the best whodunnits

that’s all it is really – a whodunit – but none the worse for that; a clear love of london shines through, the unfulfilled semi-erotic tension between strike and robin is fun, and there are many ‘makes you think’ moments, particularly about what strike has had to live through and (as in a casual vacancy how the other half live (that’s both halves))
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othello & moby-dick


everyone (including me) went to see mark rylance’s iago; for the first scene or so i was confused as he spoke so fast i missed lots of the content

but we settled, and really enjoyed rylance’s nervy subservience, running around, shooing one manipulee off the stage one way while other victims of his plan were coming on from the other side; one review described his costume as (US?) civil war soldier; i saw it more as hotel bellhop – ridiculous and boyish, indicative perhaps of the way he felt treated by his master


a poem more than a novel

and what a surprise ending {spoiler} – i was convinced along that Moby Dick and Ahab’s final confrontation would be internecine; the cataclysmic destruction of the ship by a whale head-butt was an amazing finish, especially as Moby Dick (we are led to believe) survives

How they are related

Which one is Ahab and which Iago? Iago and the whale win, so let’s do it that way round. But Ahab pursues the whale in vengeance, so let’s swap and start again. Ahab, littler, consumed with a cancer of anger and humiliation, pursues the dignified, differently-coloured, greater being – but the outcome is the opposite. The novel is no tragedy, therefore, but a moral fable telling of the power of nature, and the impotence of (human) hatred.

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romeo and juliet, & mahler’s 8th symphony

romeo and juliet (south woodford odeon, live-streamed from stratford (the other one)

like the rory kinnear macbeth, the dead rise and walk – and not just the scripted banquo; this romeo and juliet has first the slain mercutio and tybalt, and finally all the dead, facing us like zombies with a message – the cost of i) parental inflexibility and ii) a ‘culture of knife-crime’ Continue reading

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the town hall affair & the turn of the screw

the town hall affair

a live dramatic reconstruction of a real, filmed, public debate in early-seventies new york between writer and critic norman mailer and representatives of ‘women’s lib.’ notably germaine greer

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philosophy for life by rupert read, and bamford quaker community

philosophy for life: a series of essays by the green quaker norwich-based (uea) philosopher, chained together skilfully by editor m.a. lavery, this book is a serious, witty, and unashamedly intellectual attempt to take dame philosophie from her ivory tower and put her to use in the world of politics and political activism; for read, philosophy is a way of thinking critically, of unpacking and exposing the sleights of language with which the governing elites keep our thinking enchained Continue reading

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macbeth (streamed from the olivier to picturehouse central, may 10th) & the lene lovich band (at the lexington, islington, may 20th)


live-streaming is in many ways so much better than #beingthere: better view, cheaper, and a filmed interview with the director before curtain-up; which helped me notice the feel – ‘britain in a few years, after a civil war’ – armour is metal trays and other bits, fastened on with parcel-tape: nice touch

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rodin and the ancient greeks, & the iliad

rodin and the ancient greeks

i didn’t realise that rodin spent a lot of time in london, and that he kept visiting the british museum to see the elgin marbles and other greek sculpture; it seems (at least according to the bm’s materials (but see this for a plausibly cynical alternative)) that this was his primary source of inspiration

setting his and the greek pieces side by side was clever: you could really see how he had developed his own forms from theirs, particularly the headless and limbless torsos:

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