Here’s what I’ve read so far:
Jane Austen, Emma
This may be the greatest English novel ever written because of its absolute formal control and incisively drawn storyworld. Every paragraph seems perfectly balanced. Bridgerton— which clearly draws from Austen’s masterwork– appears garish and jejune in comparison.
Christopher Priest, The Glamour
I wish I’d encountered Priest earlier in my life. In this psychological thriller he reaches to the roots of the concept of glamour as a form of magic– a hidden aspect of the term’s contemporary usage we would do well to understand.
Patrick Hoffman, The White Van
This is a cracking debut crime novel that exhibits a deep familiarity with San Francisco’s geography.
This bizarre, low budget folk/eco horror film from Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, A Field in England, etc.) features Joel Fry (Plebs, W1A, etc.) as Martin Lowery, a scientist sent to a an oddly over-fecund forest during a global pandemic. Once there he discovers that the forest– elevated to legend in local folklore– possesses some form of agency, even, apparently, conscripting people into its inscrutable designs.
As part of its efforts to represent non-human intelligence the film’s narrative structure shatters into image-shards, a stroboscopic montage that undercuts the kind of story-logic we tend to automatically seek in film. It’s this kind of formalism– which is really an effort to surpass conventional cinematic storytelling– which supports Wheatley’s ultimate project. The natural world speaks in a sense– it possesses a symbolic register– but its language is utterly incommensurate with our own. In this regard the film’s diegetic sound– in particular the crackle and whisper of vegetable life– provides a powerful complement to its most striking visual images.
More Snakes Than Ladders:
This is a fascinating long-ish read that raises many questions about teaching and academic integrity in an increasingly on-line environment: