Talk about “exciting times”. There was a huge question mark over whether or not I’d get this book finished in time to write my review today. I had a bit of chunk left on Monday night but I had an early blood test the next day. This meant minimum late-night reading. The plan was to finish it on my lunch break on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that never happened. A big issue with working from home is the proximity of my bed to my workstation. I tend to eat lunch as I work and have a break later in the afternoon. This means I can spend the whole time doing nothing. Yesterday, I set my alarm for an hour and had a nap. It was pathetic. I’m not going to be fit for anything once I’m no loner shielding. Still, it got me through the rest of the day. It did mean that I had to quickly get through the final 60 pages and write this review all in the same night. As you can guess, I managed it and with a pretty good chunk of time to spare. It’s all down to the power nap.
I rented this film from Amazon Prime when it was on offer but it never felt like the right time. This seemed like the kind of film that needed my full attention and I’ve just not been in the right frame of mind lately. I’ve been so exhausted, which has meant I could only face watching lighter/sillier films. I really wanted to watch this film though. Thankfully, my time was running out. After getting ahead of my things to do this weekend, I sat down to watch it and was able to give it my full attention. After a couple of fairly mediocre films, it was going to be good to get back to something decent. I was craving a film that had a real story to tell. One that would fully explore its characters and their lives.
I have been blogging for almost 10 years now and, when I started, I had no intention of getting anything from it. Okay, maybe I had a ridiculous and kind of mad dream that I would be offered a job as a film critic but I knew that would never happen. Mostly because life isn’t like a Netflix Christmas film. Mostly because there are plenty of people who were actively working towards getting a career in journalism who deserved it more. The point is, I wasn’t expecting to get anything from it. The idea of getting free books hadn’t even crossed my mind. So, when I started being approached by writers with the offer of a free copy in exchange for a review, I was flattered. I also enjoyed getting the chance to help out. We all know that the publishing industry is pretty rubbish and extremely biased. I like getting the chance to help self-published writers. This weekend, I was offered the chance to read the new poetry collection by Danielle Holian. I’m always trying to expand my poetry horizons after all.
The good news is that my first week back at work was better than I was expecting. It’s been busy but manageable. The bad news? I haven’t exactly done well with reading this week. I’ve been horribly by other things this week. I’ve not been turning off my computer until about midnight every night and that’s really not a good time to pick up a book. I got some done last night and I’ll try and get some serious reading on today. However, I have a bit of stuff to sort out. Namely applying to a few jobs. Before Covid-19, my boss basically told me that they might not be able to afford to keep me on, so I’m a little worried that, when all of the furloughed staff come back, they might suddenly decide that they can’t keep me on. It’s always good to get ahead with new jobs and, thankfully, people still need marketing people in a pandemic. Now I have real-life experience, it might even be easier than last time.
As I suggested in my review of How to Build a Girl, there was an obvious choice for a companion TBT film. Almost Famous is a clear bedfellow for Caitlin Moran’s coming-of-age tale. The only problem is, I never want to watch Almost Famous again. I know that I’m in a tiny minority of people but I really don’t get what the fuss was about. It just seemed a bit too overindulgent and facile. It was pure Hollywood and didn’t really speak much to me or my experiences. I don’t understand why people adore it so much. So I needed to find an alternative. I went for another Kate Hudson film. Not one I was any more excited to watch but one that I could at least sit through. Handily, she plays a journalist who tries to get ahead by being unnecessarily mean. Oh, and it has “how to” in the title. Not a bad companion film after all.
This weekend I, like so many other Netflix users around the world, sat down and binge-watched the second season of The Umbrella Academy. When the first series came out, I didn’t know much about it. All I knew was that it was based on a comic book series written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. Now, I admit that Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge is one of my guilty pleasure albums but I’ve long outgrown MCR. I didn’t expect to enjoy the show but Netflix is clever. It kept playing the trailer over and over until I couldn’t help but watch. I was quickly obsessed. It was a great show and the soundtrack was phenomenal. It felt new and nostalgic at the same time. I couldn’t wait for the follow-up season and, though the narrative wasn’t quite as slick, it was still bloody entertaining. So, when I realised I wouldn’t finish a book in time for today’s review, I knew I had to do something drastic. I bought the Kindle edition of the first volume of the comics. I had to see for myself.
I have a copy of Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Girl somewhere on my bookshelves. Obviously, I haven’t read it yet but I haven’t read a lot of the books on my bookshelves. A friend gave me a copy of How To Be A Woman for Christmas one year but I haven’t read that either. It’s not that I didn’t want to. It’s just that there are so many other books in the world. Being a reader is like having the worst case of FOMO imaginable. There are so many books that have already been published and plenty still to be published. Of course, you’re always going to be wondering if the book you’re currently reading is the best one that you can get. It’s understandable that certain books and authors are going to miss out and, unfortunately, Caitlin Moran was one of them. I had thought about waiting until I’d read the book but if I did that I’d never have watched the film. It probably goes against the bookish code but it had to be done.
I know we have the same conversation every time some new contemporary author is compared to Agatha Christie but it’s the kind of thing that bears repeating. Modern readers really underestimate her skills. It seems as though all you need to do these days to be compared to her is either mention her/her books or write a small scale crime thriller. By small scale, I mean not one of these overly dark, psychological thrillers but more of a slow burner that revolves around a domestic or small setting. Here’s the thing: Agatha Christie knew what she was doing. She understood people, she understood motivation, and she understood murder. She had the ability to shock and she knew exactly what her readers wanted. Her books are light on detail and character study because they don’t need it. They do what they set out to do. She wasn’t an indulgent writer because she understood how to craft the perfect whodunnit. She didn’t need gimmicks or excess plot to distract her readers. She hid everything in plain sight. Something writers these days tend to struggle with.
Today is the last day of my holiday, which means I’m back at work on Monday. Thanks to our local lockdown, I won’t be going back to the office as originally planned. Part of me is really happy but I was kind of looking forward to being able to get out a bit more. I would always go out for a walk at lunchtime but, since March, I’ve not really been able to leave the house. At least it means I can keep pretending that I’m finally going to make my way through my huge TBR.
Another month is done and, as of late on Thursday evening, I’m back to shielding again. At least it means I’m not being forced back to work but it does mean I’m not going to be getting out of the house for a few more weeks. Time really has become meaningless this year. Do you remember back to January? January always feels so slow but that’s nothing compared to the last few months. We’ve only just got to August and it feels both too soon and too late. I’ve barely seen anyone beyond my family since March. I’ve gone nowhere but the doctors in the last few weeks. Yet, I still haven’t achieved anything that I thought I would at the start of lockdown. I’m managing to just about keep my reading pace but I’m not reading more. I’ve got loads of unfinished puzzles to do and I’ve not been using the time to apply for jobs. All I’ve done it watch the same old shows over and over again. Can we just pretend 2020 doesn’t count towards our individual achievements?