Update June/July 2018

Hi everyone.

Trying something a little different. I’ve been lax with keeping everyone up to date and sometimes I’ve much to tell, sometimes a mere trickle. There are times I’m resting, other moments when I’m planning, days when I’m writing (not always much to impart then), and occasions when other things interrupt the best-laid plans. I’m trying to do something of a more involved ‘update’, an exercise which also stretches the old writing muscles.

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We were away in June to Norway so for this time only this update will include both the months of June and July.

One can say every country is a land of contrasts and Norway has its cities, but what I always take away is the memory of the sheer immensity of the landscape. To stand surrounded by mountains almost defeats the ability to take everything in, numbs belief to what the eye takes in. I don’t recall ever visiting any place where the air is cleaner, where a person doesn’t struggle even on the hottest day to breathe. If it weren’t for the long, dark winters, it’s one country where I could imagine living.

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Enough concerning my holiday. Films I’ve watched these months include the new version of Stephen King’s IT, which is my favourite book of his although there’s a whole section I would have deleted as both reader and writer. I didn’t realise the film would be told in two ‘Chapters’ and that another is coming in 2019, though this makes perfect sense when one knows the story takes place in two stages with the characters as children, and, later, as adults who discover they failed to vanquish the horror.

It’s refreshing to see a book featuring children treated this way. There’s a rule in the publishing industry most readers won’t even consider: if the protagonist is a child then the book is for children. This line has blurred owing to the popularity of Harry Potter, read and watched by more adults than kids or so it seems, and with many YA (Young Adult) books making it to the big screen. There are many excellent YA novels out there. When I was a teen no such genre existed: there were simply ‘books’ and while there were categories and age groups, largely one’s parents decided whether to police reading material. I confess I read King long before I should have, and my teen years were filled with Mills and Boons (it’s what the other girls were reading), the ‘classics’ (which had been part of my childhood), John Steinbeck, Stephen King, and James Herbert. There’s a reason my reading has always been, and remains, eclectic.

IT is undoubtedly a horror film. While I’ve a soft spot for the first try to put it on the screen back in 1990, mainly because of Tim Curry’s appearance as Pennywise, the book at last has the treatment it deserves. It’s decidedly creepy in places. Scary? Hard to say. Fright like many things is subjective and I struggle to choose a film or a book when I was last ‘scared’. Something unexpected might make me jump but that can happen in any genre. Films, books, any media that has made me peep into dark corners to check whether shadows are something more are rare. Still, I loved the creepiness of this version, particularly as the impression left by a book is difficult to transfer to screen. Reading is often far creepier than watching.

Other noteworthy (and one or two not) films would be Darkest Hour (Gary Oldman deserved recognition for his role as Churchill), a film I admired for the acting, and because it kept a war film interesting without turning it into another bombardment of huge explosions. The scenes are to do with what went on ‘behind’ the war and engaging. Victoria and Abdul is another instance of historical ‘dramatisation’ though I sense this one is with more liberty. Still, it’s interesting, and Judi Dench’s performances can seldom be faulted. Something we started and stopped after twenty minutes was The Brits Are Coming. Despite the well-known cast, it came across as chaotic and decidedly unfunny. Atomic Blonde was better than expected. Mostly we’ve been catching up with all 7 seasons of The Game of Thrones, the series and books I both recommend.

More next week where I’ll get to a few book titles…