Summer Clunkers

Beach reads not even worth the reviews. Chick lit lite. At best. The Heirs, Susan Rieger. A superficial soap opera with implausible scenarios. Ditto. The Arrangement, Sarah Dunn. You guessed it. A couple with an autistic boy decides to set ground rules for cheating on each other for six months. Of course. It all goes wrong. Syrupy in the end.

Ray Donovan. This season better get better. Fast. Devolved into maudlin slow episodes. Last week of GOT. No! Good thing it’s gorgeous weather. Tavern on the Green patio. Or. Bringing our own chairs to watch eclipse, read, have lunch in the park. Yes!

GOT Books?

Game of Thrones returns. After reviewing the last two episodes of gory wars, exploding bodies, and dogs’ ravenous dinner of Ramsay, Season 7 began. It couldn’t get grosser, could it? Oh yes. How does a library become a cesspool. Literally. There are tomes and turds galore. And.

Speaking of bad reads. Leaving Lucy Pear, Solomon’s “mother load” touted by WaPo, is a dud.

Hot Stuff

TV: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back. Tituss Burgess dominates. Maybe too much this season. House of Cards. Needs two views. After second watch, some of the plot and character deficits are filled in better. But. Still. Uneven writing this year. Frank & Claire remain compelling. Speaking of Kevin Spacey. Fun host of the otherwise lackluster Tony’s.

Book Treks. 2011 – 2017.

This summer try The Honeymoon about George Eliot, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, The Woman on the Stairs, A Gentleman in Moscow, Swans of Fifth Avenue, Paley’sCapote.

Literary Mind Craft

The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge. I’m not sure. It kept me rapt. Author clearly had lots of things to work through. Personally. Maybe. Literarily many unfinished stories found their way into this dense work. Sprawling disjointed tales of several complex people in different times and places. Spaces. Told from a woman’s point of view, Marina the shrink, working out her own issues. The author gave her an authentic voice. It begins as her husband Charlie disappears into Agawam Lake in the Berkshires. H.S. Lovecraftian fandom less clear. More context necessary for those not acquainted with this cult of science-fiction-horror genre. Nonetheless. Worth the meandering page-turning journey. Lots to think about. La Farge’s New Yorker view.

Speaking of mind-bending. Twin Peaks so far is a self-indulgent David Lynchian acid trip with no redeeming plot value. Vomitaceous. Literally.

Layered Literary Canvas

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith. A beautifully written history which brings the reader into the art guilds of the Netherlands in the 1600’s. New York’s gritty Brooklyn, isolated rich on the Upper East Side in the later 1950’s. Australia in 2000. The stories are built in layers as is the painting depicted. Sara De Vos’ last oeuvre brings a poignantly perfect masterpiece of an ending to all of the disparate lives affected by her work. Prose is gorgeous. Characters provocative and real. Learned a lot about oil on canvas. One of the best reads this year.

Femmes Fatales

Women. Murder. And such. The Feud had promise. Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford. Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. But. Acting so bad. Not campy bad. Just bad. Couldn’t get through the first episode. Big Little Lies. Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Ditto. Derived from a typically insipid Liane Moriarty book. Girls. Lena Dunham’s best season yet.

Little Deaths, a murder mystery novel by Emma Flint. A Brit who has been obsessed with crime stories since she was a girl. An okay read with with a bit of a feminist agenda. Baileys Prize Longlist. Used to be Orange Prize. Both sponsors have since ditched. Why a segregated genre for women authors? Lots of women winners of Man Booker. Good writing is good.