The Three Musketeers

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The Three MusketeersThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Published: 1844
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Translated By: Pevear and Volokhonsky (from French in 2006)
Series: D’Artagnan #1
Length: 22:45 (736 pages)

Swordplay, bravado, romance, political intrigue, drunken brawls, mistaken identity – there is a lot happening in this well-known novel, which is actually the first of a trilogy of books following D’Artagnan and his three companions. I’ve seen a few film adaptations of this over the years, none of which I can really recall, but I do always remember loving the pure adventure of it all, and I’m happy to say that the same is true for the source material.

This is high adventure and historical fiction, taking place in France during the 17th century. Dumas states in the introduction that the 16th century novel Memoires de d’Artagnan by Gatien de Cortilz de Sandras inspired this story. The real life characters are not just Louis XIII, Anne of Austria and the other known figures of history, but also d’Artagnan, his three Musketeer friends, and other various characters as well, although he shifted many of them slightly in time.

The story begins with D’Artagnan leaving his home to travel to Paris in the hope of joining the King’s Musketeers, and then follows him and his three Musketeer companions on their various adventures. I won’t try to summarize the plot, because it is quite complicated, but this novel felt like adventure in its purest form, to the point of being a bit surreal – the over the top swagger, the duels at the drop of a hat, the immediate declarations of love, the carefree attitude towards death. If you didn’t catch the tone of the novel, everyone in this would come across as lunatics, but it ends up really working well.

So many of the characters are memorable and full of life, and there are some fantastically constructed scenes. How D’Artagnan met the three Musketeers, through a series of misunderstandings, was a brilliant way to introduce the characters, and I loved the bond they formed for the rest of the novel. As this was first published as a magazine serial, I did feel like it was losing me a bit in the middle as serials tend to do, but overall the story surprised me by just how fun and hilarious it was.

This is the first Pevear and Volokhonsky (although this was just Pevear) translation that I’ve read, and it was very good. The main complaint against them, that I’ve heard, is that they sometimes choose phrasing that seems too modern. A phrase that popped up in this novel surprisingly often was ‘blow your brains out’, which seemed wildly out of place to me, but out of curiosity I searched a bit online and it seems like that phrasing is in older translations as well, so I really don’t know. Maybe that phrase, or at least its French cousin, was in regular use back then, but the idea seems utterly bizarre to me for some reason. I thoroughly enjoyed both the translation and the narration (Simon Vance is always amazing), so I’d definitely recommend this edition.

There are two sequels to this, both longer than the already quite long original. I’m not sure I’ll pick those up anytime in the near future, but I think the next Dumas I’ll eventually tackle will be The Count of Monte Cristo. That novel seems to be loved by everyone, so I’m looking forward to it.

May in Review

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Books Acquired:
Poems by Robert Frost: A Boy’s Will; North of Boston by Robert Frost
The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark
Conversations by César Aira
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
A Good Year by Peter Mayle
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Books Read:
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This month started, of course, with the annual used book sale, which is always a highlight. That’s also why my Books Acquired list is so ridiculous. I’ve only read one of the new pile of books so far, The White Tiger, and I thought it was great.

Lee-Ann’s birthday was this month, which was a very busy weekend full of nonstop eating and visiting with friends.

Yesterday's birthday bacon!

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Her birthday coincided with the local Highland Games here, which is always fun. It’s a good chance to eat some haggis, buy random Scottish knickknacks, and watch huge guys throw heavy objects around.

Fun day at #VHG2017. Haggis and tatties for lunch!

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Luke, Ah am yer faither. #VHG2017

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I’m mainly just happy the sun is finally out. Our winters here are grey and dark and wet, and I always forget just how much that affects me until I get a bit of sun on my skin and find myself spinning on hilltops like Maria von Trapp.

Movies watched:
The Lady in the Van (2015) – Both Maggie Smith and Alan Bennett are fantastic, so I really enjoyed this. It reminded me that I need to read more Alan Bennett soon.

Deadpool (2016) – Just raunchy fun. Interested to see if Deadpool pops up in any other Marvel movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – Not as good as the first, but still entertaining. They tried way too hard in too many scenes to be heartwarming, and it fell a bit flat for me.

Now You See Me (2013) – This was a bit silly. If you really turn your mind off, it’s an enjoyable heist movie, but don’t let your mind wander back to reality for even a second.

TV watched:
Master of None: Season 2 (2017) – Some of the best television I’ve watched in ages. Season 1 was already fantastic, and this was a huge improvement on that. Very clever filming, great writing and casting. Aziz Ansari should be winning every award for this series.

Games played:
Rocket League (2015) (PC) – I haven’t really been playing anything recently, but I still always come back to this.

What have you been reading/watching/playing this month?

Garlic and Sapphires

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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in DisguiseGarlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
Published: 2005
Length: 334 pages

This is Ruth Reichl’s memoir of the time she spent as the restaurant critic for The New York Times, from 1993 to 1999. It begins with her flying to the city after accepting the job and being recognized on the plane. These reviews could make or break a restaurant, and many chefs around the city made sure their staff knew who she was. If they could recognize her when she arrived at the restaurant, they could try to spoil her and help their review.

Because of this, she began dressing in disguise when visiting restaurants. She couldn’t very well give fair reviews if the staff were giving her special treatment, so she would don a wig, buy some clothing from a thrift store, and reinvent herself – a sort of foodie spy trying to integrate with the enemy.

In her first review for the paper, she wanted to split the article into two distinct reviews. The difference in experience between how she was treated out of disguise on her first visit and how she was treated as an unknown, less stylish woman was so dramatic that she felt they warranted separate pieces with different star ratings. In the end, she was forced to combine the reviews and average the star rating, but I loved that she was so adamant to expose this disparity. As she says in the book, for many people the occasional visit to an upscale restaurant is as much about the theatre of it all as it is about the food, and to be ignored in favour of more obviously affluent people isn’t right.

At one point she wrote a one star review for a popular restaurant, one that had previously garnered four stars, and the next day she checked her voicemail to find it full of angry responses from readers. That felt like something you don’t see much these days – voice feedback. Could you imagine checking your voicemail in the morning to find the equivalent of a string of angry YouTube comments? I picture every angry social media comment as coming from an unsupervised preteen with developmental issues, and I don’t know if I could cope with being forced to admit that actual adults are behind those opinions. It’s just too real.

She didn’t just wear a disguise, she assumed the personality traits that came along with each costume as well. How much her outer appearance affected her personality was really interesting. It allowed her to explore sides of herself that she would normally ignore, although the way she seemed to, almost against her will, take on complete personalities the instant a new wig hit her skull, as if being possessed, was a bit far-fetched. It felt like an excuse to be rude and manipulative at times, particularly near the end of her run, but I was impressed with how willing Reichl was to show a less pleasant sides of herself in this.

Her descriptions of the food were, obviously, a pleasure to read, as you’d expect from a renown restaurant critic. I do wish there was a little more focus on the food than the disguises, but I suppose it did give the book a lot more depth, more so than I anticipated going in. She also included a number of recipes throughout the book – chocolate cake, asparagus risotto, spaghetti carbonara, that sort of thing. There’s a recipe for Gougères (cheesy puffs essentially) that I’m really interesting in trying.

While the disguise routine started to get a bit old for me halfway through the book, her writing kept me going. I really enjoyed it. I see she released a memoir before this, so I will have to track that down.

The Human Factor

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The Human FactorThe Human Factor by Graham Greene
Published: 1978
Length: 347 pages

I’ve read two other Greene novels besides this one, The End of the Affair and The Captain and the Enemy, and I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to get when I pick up one of his books, but I know I love his writing. This is one of his later novels in an incredible career that began in the 20s and lasted until the late 80s. I always think of him as a classic author, but it seems odd to include anything written in my lifetime, so I tend to fall back on the arbitrary ‘fifty year’ rule with him.

Anyway, this is a spy novel of a much more realistic fashion than what we typically see. The protagonist, Maurice Castle, is no James Bond. He’s a middle-aged man who works at a desk and looks forward to retirement. He did have, what seems like, a more exciting position in South Africa during apartheid, where he had to flee the country with a black woman who later became his wife. They now live a quiet life with their child in London.

A piece of confidential information, under his small department’s jurisdiction, made its way into Communist hands. There are three main suspects, of which Castle is one, and his calm life starts to become much more tense. It’s a slow build throughout the novel, and while it certainly isn’t action-packed, it was an exciting read. In his autobiography, Greene wrote that he wanted “to write a novel of espionage free from the conventional violence, which has not, in spite of James Bond, been a feature of the British Secret Service”, and I would say he pulled it off exceptionally well.

Hate is an automatic response to fear, for fear humiliates.

The relationships in this felt very real to me, and I just loved the dialogue. He got across a lot in a few words, and he was surprisingly funny at times, which I appreciate. There are small moments of humour in even the most tragic of times, and I think a lot of authors can forget that.

I can definitely say I’m a fan, at this point. The only other unread Greene novel on my shelf is The Tenth Man, which I’ll likely get to later this year.

Waking Gods

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Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Published: 2017
Narrated by: Full Cast
Series: Themis Files #2
Length: 09:02 (325 pages)

This is the sequel to Sleeping Giants and the second novel in the Themis Files trilogy, a series about a team of scientists finding and testing a giant robot found buried on Earth. The first two novels in this trilogy probably should have just been one. The first ends in a very anti-climatic and dull way, particularly for a novel about a giant robot, and this one just continues the story. Waking Gods does jump ahead in time several years, but it really feels like the second half of that first novel. There seems to be some rule that you can’t have just two novels in a science fiction or fantasy series. It will be three or more, even if you have to rip one in half to do it.

It’s hard to include too much about the plot, as this is a sequel and I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s basically the most exciting bits of the last novel all the way through. Since we’re familiar with the characters now, the focus has shifted somewhat to the world events, and things do get quite crazy. It’s a novel that’s really about holding the tension rather than straight up action, which I think bothers a lot of people. Don’t expect Gundam or Power Rangers. This is largely about trying to plan for and deal with major disasters, and Sylvain Neuvel really doesn’t pull any punches. Horrible things happen in this, and that really helps build the tension later in the book.

— Spoiler —
I really love Rose Franklin’s story line, and how she’s able to look at the project in retrospect and see it differently. To see what she did before, with the same mind, but with an objectivity that most people don’t get a chance to experience. The ‘am I a real person’ dilemma she had was great, but it’s that idea of being able to examine years of your own life from the viewpoint of your younger self that I found really interesting.
— /Spoiler —

I’ve been listening to this series in audiobook format, and it’s just perfect for that. It has a full cast, mostly very strong narrators, and it just works so well. There are a few production issues, such as having the characters occasionally scream as loud as they can without the volume being adjusted, causing you to bleed from the ears and stumble into traffic, but it’s mostly excellent.

If you enjoy the first novel, definitely pick this up. If you were lukewarm on that novel, you will probably feel the same way about this. It’s really more of the same, amplified slightly, but for me that was enjoyable. There is a huge plot twist at the end of this, however, and I’m excited to see what the novel will bring.

Shockaholic

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ShockaholicShockaholic by Carrie Fisher
Published: 2011
Narrated by: Carrie Fisher
Length: 04:25 (176 pages)

I was very sad to hear of Carrie Fisher’s death last December. I read Wishful Drinking a year ago and really loved it. I’d forgotten at the time that she was a hilarious and talented writer, and I decided that I needed to eventually read everything she’s written. Her autobiographies, of which this is the second, are all on Audible, so I’m starting with those. She narrates them herself, which is always an added pleasure with the memoirs of performers. Her fictional novels are also on Audible, but they all seem to be abridged, so I’ll be looking for those elsewhere.

There’s no room for demons when you’re self-possessed.

This does cover some of the same ground as her last autobiography in detailing her experiences with electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), but it’s worth repeating. The treatment has such a stigma associated with it and people still compare it to medieval torture, when it fact it’s come a long way, so it really was courageous and important for someone in the public eye to share their experiences. Carrie Fisher actually did a lot in her life for the awareness of mental health, particularly with bipolar disorder.

The worst side-effect of ECT is memory loss, and while the idea of forgetting important events is horrifying, it’s an acceptable trade-off for the positive effects the treatment can have on people like Fisher. She had to go in for small maintenance bouts of ECT, and she said she wanted to write down these memories, what was left of them, in case they disappeared. And why not publish it while she was at it?

This is a, somewhat disjointed, collection of stories from her life, centred largely around her relationship with her famous parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and her perpetually flatulent, personality-lacking step-father. She took what was clearly hurtful abandonment and was able to look back on it with a lot of humour. It’s very funny at times, but not like the first book. This one has a much more thoughtful tone.

I didn’t really know too much about Eddie Fisher or Elizabeth Taylor, but it didn’t matter; in this they’re just her dysfunctional parents. There’s a chapter on her experiences with Michael Jackson and one covering a rude and sexist dinner conversation with Ted Kennedy, and even though I have no real interest in reading about either of those people, she still managed to keep it interesting. It’s hard not to list the topics of this without it sounding like a name-dropping tell-all, which I suppose it is, but she lived her life, whether she liked it or not, in this ridiculous celebrity world. Thankfully, the stories still feel personal and, if anything, she seemed genuinely embarrassed and bored of stardom.

What you’ll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head.

I really enjoyed this, although I think I preferred the first book. This one had more poignant, insightful moments, which I loved, but the first book felt like more of a complete package, and as it started life as a one-woman show, it was a bit snappier.

Amsterdam

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AmsterdamAmsterdam by Ian McEwan
Published: 1999
Length: 192 pages
Awards: 1998 Man Booker Prize Winner

Amsterdam opens at Molly Lane’s memorial as two of her past boyfriends reminisce and pay their respects. One is the lead editor of a struggling newspaper and the other a revered composer. A third suitor, a right-wing politician, is also attending, and after the funeral the three become entangled in each other’s lives in very destructive ways.

Middle-age angst is a central theme here, with the characters facing different stages of their careers. The editor is pushing for success and feels he can achieve it with a story that lies in very grey moral ground, and the composer has already found a lot of success in his career and is struggling with maintaining it. In doing so he also finds himself in a, much less grey, moral quandary. This is a novel about hard choices and what drives different people in their decisions, and the main plot point is oddly more relevant today than it was when this was written.

“You’re the composer?” Vera or Mini asked.

“That’s right.”

“It’s a great honor, Mr. Linley. My eleven-year-old granddaughter studied your sonatina for her final exam in violin and really loved it.”

“That’s very nice to know.”

The thought of children playing his music made him feel faintly depressed.

Molly died fairly young and needed invasive care at the end of her life. The two men, not wanting to live through the same undignified end, enter into a pact with each other; if either end up in a similar position, they want the other to guide them to the Netherlands in order to end their life through euthanasia.

I’m very much in support of physician-assisted death, and I found it a little odd how carelessly McEwan handled the matter in this book. Having no prior knowledge, a reader would come out of this thinking anyone with suicidal thoughts could stroll into Amsterdam, have a plate full of hemlock pannekoeken for breakfast, and be done with it, which quite obviously isn’t the case. Out of curiosity, I Googled Ian McEwan’s views on the matter after reading, wondering if he was against the act and maybe decided to weave in a little fear-mongering. I was a little shocked to find that he not only supports assisted dying, he actively campaigns to legalize it in England. I wonder if he wishes he had handled the topic a bit more responsibly in this book.

While much of this is quite dark and heavy stuff, it reads lighter than you’d think and is quite funny at times. McEwan writes very simply while still being able to convey complex ideas and emotions. The characters are deeply flawed in somewhat believable ways, and I loved the little snarky observations they were making. Unfortunately, the ending did fall short for me. There was a major shift in how the characters acted, almost becoming darkly slapstick, but it just didn’t ring true for me at all.

Sunday coffee and Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. #AmReading

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This was my second Ian McEwan novel. Of the two, I preferred Atonement, but this was still really enjoyable.

Annual Times Colonist Book Sale Haul

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Our favourite book sale has once again come and gone. Sometimes I’m sad that it’s only a once a year event, but then I look at our bookshelves quivering on the edge of failure, and I remember why it’s probably for the best.

A local newspaper here has been running this event for the last twenty years, and it’s always a nice reminder that there’s still a love of books out there. Saturday and Sunday the sale is open to everyone, with books ranging between $1 and $3. On Monday, it’s open to schools and non-profit organizations to take what they want for free. Any remaining books are then sold to a company in California. In the last twenty years, the sale has brought in 4.7 million dollars, which all goes to local literacy programs.

So while this book haul could be seen as rampant consumerism gone amok, considering I already have shelves full of unread books, I like to think of it as a charitable act.

Book sale haul!

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  1. Poems by Robert Frost: A Boy’s Will; North of Boston by Robert Frost
  2. The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark
  3. Conversations by César Aira
  4. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  5. Bullfighting by Roddy Doyle
  6. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  7. A Good Year by Peter Mayle
  8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  9. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
  10. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  11. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  12. Shopgirl by Steve Martin
  13. Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome
  14. The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
  15. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  16. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
  17. Baudolino by Umberto Eco
  18. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Thoughts:

  • I’m definitely taking chances on a few of these, but if there’s ever a time to take a chance on a book, it’s this event.
  • I don’t care about baseball, but I’ll hopefully still enjoy The Art of Fielding. I was in the mood for some campus fiction.
  • Shopgirl possibly falls under the category of ‘chick lit’, but it’s written by Steve Martin, so I thought I’d give it a try.
  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency possibly falls under the category of ‘middle-aged women lit’, but not knowing anything about it, I could easily be wrong about that.
  • I was planning to pick up more classic fiction, but I was apparently in a contemporary literary fiction mood yesterday.
  • I love science fiction and fantasy, but I almost never leave this sale with any. I think it’s because that section is alphabetized, where as the rest of the sale is mainly just a hodgepodge of books. When they’re all mixed up like that, I enjoy digging through and discovering gems, but when I see them in order I tend to drift towards authors I know and barely glance at the rest.
  • I don’t go in with a list, as that just never works for me, but I did have the goal of picking up any Muriel Spark novels I could find. Sadly I only came across one tiny novella.
  • I picked up a lot of Man Booker Prize winners and nominees this year.
  • I discovered after getting home that Bullfighting is actually a short story collection, which tend to not really be my thing, but we’ll see.
  • Most of the authors are not from America or the UK.

I’ve already read Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), but I loved it and wanted a nice physical copy. I have a feeling I’ll be re-reading it in the next couple of years. This one was great – good condition overall, nice wrap-around cover art, thick opaque pages, and multiple introductions, including a couple from the author. It’s a Time Reading Program Special Edition, which I was unfamiliar with, but when I got home I realized I also had a copy of The Martian Chronicles in that edition. I will have to watch for more.

It as a fun day, and as per tradition, we went for an unhealthy afternoon breakfast after the sale. I meant to take a photo, but my hunger overwhelmed me.

Company Town

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Company TownCompany Town by Madeline Ashby
Published: 2016
Narrated by: Cecelia Kim
Length: 08:58 (285 pages)

This is a science fiction crime novel that takes place in a city built on a giant oil rig off the east coast of Canada. It’s the near future, and it’s incredible rare to find someone who hasn’t augmented their body in some way, by changing how they look or enhancing their physical strength or cognitive abilities. The protagonist, Go Jung-Hwa, is the only person on the rig that is unaltered. She works as a bodyguard for members of the sex trade, which is now legal and highly regulated but is still not without certain dangers.

Hwa’s unaugmented body is an asset, as it means she can’t be hacked. She also happens to have Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a condition that has left a large birthmark over most of her face. She has developed a slightly bitter outlook in life as a result of this, and it’s contributed to her feelings of isolation, but it also happens to make her invisible to facial recognition software. Because of these contextually-advantageous disadvantages, and her combat training, she is offered a job to protect the fifteen-year-old heir of a local wealthy energy tycoon, a man who essentially owns the town. After she takes the job, attempts on their lives are made, people start dying, and she works to find out who’s behind it all.

I loved the cyberpunk setting. At times this felt like a Raymond Chandler plot done on the set of Bladerunner, and it’s full of interesting ideas. Almost so many ideas that it starts to feel a bit thinly spread, but it was still enjoyable throughout. I found the murder mystery aspect of this quite exciting, and many of the characters were great. Hwa is a complete badass with some intriguing inner turmoil, even if you have to suspend disbelieve somewhat when it comes to the fight scenes. The idea that an unaugmented bodyguard could be successful in a city full of, potentially, supernaturally strong and agile baddies seems unlikely to me, but it wasn’t something that stood out as an obvious problem while reading.

The ending was by far the weakest part of the story. It was a convoluted mess that I don’t think I completely understood, to be honest, and I can’t be bothered to go back and re-read it. Then it turned into a disappointingly cliché Hollywood ending which completely undermined everything in the story about Hwa overcoming and beginning to accept her facial imperfection. The plot was really engaging until that point, so it was sad to see it fall apart.

This was one of the featured books in the 2017 Canada Reads competition, a ‘battle of the books’, that the CBC has been holding for the past fifteen years now. I always hear mention of this in passing on the radio or on signs at local bookstores, but I’ve never given it much attention. I have a vague goal of reading more Canadian literature, something I have really neglected in the past, so I thought I’d tune in this year.

Five Canadian celebrities choose a book to champion in the competition, and they meet for a series of moderated live radio roundtables to debate which book of the five every Canadian should read. I listened to the first episode, and I don’t think I’m a fan of the format, but I like that it publicizes Canadian authors. This year’s winner was Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis, which I’m still deciding whether I’ll read. It’s obviously a novel about dogs, and I don’t think I want to read a novel about dogs. We’ll see.

Despite my gripes about the ending, I did really enjoy my time with this novel.

April in Review

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Books Acquired:
Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain
Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow

Books Read:
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher
Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
The Human Factor by Graham Greene

We have the used book sale this weekend (maybe I’ve mentioned that once or twice?), and this last month they had a book drive to collect donations. Lee-Ann and I happily got rid of two bags full of books. Some were books I didn’t enjoy, and therefore didn’t want to keep around, and others were books I had for a while and didn’t see myself reading anytime soon. The nice thing about this book sale is that the proceeds go to local literacy programs, so if I buy a book that I later decide I don’t want, I can just donate it back another year and not feel guilty about it. Guilt free book buying!

We were going to hold off buying anything until the sale, but we couldn’t help ourselves one afternoon and wandered into the bookstores downtown. I’ve been meaning to read Get Jiro! for ages now, being a fan of Anthony Bourdain, but the reviews were a bit spotty when it was released and I lost interest. I plan to read it this month and decide for myself. I hadn’t heard of the Judd Apatow’s book, but I love behind-the-scenes comedy interviews, so it sounds great to me. It’s a collection of interviews he’s conducted with various comedians over the last thirty years.

Morning face.

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Movies watched:
American Ultra (2015) – Silly, but fun. Not a great movie, but it was entertaining, and I like Jesse Eisenberg.

Reptilicus (1961) (MST3K) – This was the movie featured in the first episode of the newly revamped Mystery Science Theater 3000, where they commentate over terrible old movies. I used to love watching cheesy bad movies, and their commentary can be quite funny, so I’ll be watching more of them. Reptilicus was gloriously bad, with jokes that didn’t land and special effects that were extraordinarily awful.

Seven Psychopaths (2012) – I put this on because I love Tom Waits, although it turns out he has just a very small part, and I love movies in which the main character is an author, even though that’s seen as a little hacky. It turned out to be really good. I didn’t realize before watching, but it’s directed by Martin McDonagh, and I loved his last movie In Bruges. This wasn’t quite on that level, but the script took some really clever twists, and it was the best performance I’ve seen out of Christopher Walken in quite a while.

TV watched:
None finished.

Games played:
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (2017) (PC) – I usually avoid Early Access games out of pure principle, but this one pulled me in, and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s still quite rough, performance-wise, but I haven’t come across any huge bugs yet. I managed to come in second on a solo game, which won’t matter to anyone who hasn’t played it, but I was quite happy with myself.

Rocket League (2015) (PC) – This is my ‘just ten minutes before I go’ game. The new Dropshot mode is a blast.

What have you been reading/watching/playing this month?