Not being funny

42. The Post (film, dir. Steven Spielberg, 2017)
43. A Fantastic Woman (film, dir. Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
44. Lady Bird (film, dir. Greta Gerwig, 2017)
45. C. V. Wedgwood, The King's Peace (nonfiction book, 1955)
46. *Steely Dan, Aja (album, 1977)

I have been thinking, this week, about women being funny. Partly this is because of a thread on a writing subreddit about classic comic novels; by the time I got there, every work listed was by a white man - mostly Wodehouse and Douglas Adams. But then I thought, who is there? There's Stella Gibbons and Helen Fielding and personally I think Muriel Spark is hilarious, likewise Jane Austen, but then what?

Of course to ask for "classics" is to shift the goalposts very much in Wodehouse's favour, so quite possibly I am asking the wrong questions. Suggestions welcome if anyone out there on The Internet has any - and if they aren't from the UK/North America then so much the better.

Three films at work this week, all Oscar-nominated one way or another. The Post was exactly as what it promised to be; it did what it said on the tin. Meryl Streep was her usual combination of velvet fist in iron glove; the New York Times didn't get nearly as much credit as it deserved... I wonder, most of all, when this was greenlit. Quite often I feel like Historical Yet Topical films like this are designed to be reassuring. You know, we've faced dire circumstances before, and we'll do it again, that sort of thing. Once upon a time there were civil rights abuses but then we made it better. Often it feels glib to me. The Post was good but then I look at the news and there is a funny taste in my mouth which I can't quite pinpoint.

Lady Bird was fine, capital-R-Relatable (I also was a mid-00s theatre kid, and it is v weird that semi-autobiographical film-makers are now catering to me with their own lived experience), but in my opinion all the best lines were in the trailer. I am not really one for a bildungsroman, but some people love them. Several of my colleagues are salivating over this one.

And so, it's interesting to me that the film of the three I had the fewest expectations for turned out to be - I think - arguably the best and certainly the most interesting. A Fantastic Woman is a Chilean film in Spanish, about a trans woman in the immediate aftermath of her older cis-male partner's death. It's by Sebastián Lelio, who is also adapting a Naomi Alderman book about Jewish lesbians this year, so he's already my new favourite. It was blurbed as "unashamedly queer" which sounds like something I'd generally steer clear of, but it was direct and interesting and very well told. I want to tell you that it's about life as a visible minority, rather than whatever the sideways implications of "unashamedly queer" are, but just trying to phrase that without sounding like an idiot is making me cough up a hairball. So instead I shall say that A Fantastic Woman is very empathetic, very kind, and - blurb be damned - there's plenty to resonate with even if you are a little bit scared by the monolith that is queer theory these days.

The next episode of Past Tense is eye-wateringly late - believe me, I am extremely aware of it, but I have been reading Veronica Wedgwood books cover to cover so at least you know I am trying.

And finally, I tried listening to some Steely Dan again after nearly a decade. Aja reminds me of my seventeenth birthday, although I didn't play it then. I don't think Steely Dan fart rainbows like some people seem to, but they fit with a certain mood, you know?

Other things I've seen/heard/read/so forth this week: I don't even know. I don't know where it's gone. I'm reading four books at the moment, on and off, and that doesn't even include all the history. Business as usual, then.