79. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (film, dir. Mike Newell, 2018)
80. Ill Fares the Land (film, dir. Bill Bryden, 1982)
81. Joanna Russ, How to Suppress Women's Writing (non-fiction book, 1983)
82. Rachel Aaron, 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love (non-fiction book, 2013)
A disclaimer at the beginning of this one: at no point in the past or the future do my views represent those of my employer or anyone else, except where clearly attributed to them by name; my opinions should be taken only to represent my own perspective and not those of any other group or individual.
Which is to say, on this occasion, that it is not the cinema's fault that a week or so ago I watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society six times in four days. I can't recommend it. I couldn't really recommend it after the first watching. Plenty of other members of the audience had a great time, and I am happy that their lives were enriched. As for me, I've coughed up quite enough hairballs at the idea that a person - a very young-looking person - can write a whole book, of non-fiction, in under a month, based on two weeks of research. ("But Fiona! How do you know it took less than a month?" The opening scene is clearly in springtime, and the subtitle says 1946. When she sends the manuscript back to Guernsey at the very end, the package is dated mid-April 1946. The British postal service - or "the mail" as they insist on calling it, in this film, which is set in 1946 - is not that fast. I have seen this six times.) I, excessively late with my non-fiction project in progress as I currently am, am not the target audience of this film. Even without that, please allow me to assure you that it is in fact pants.
At the other end of the spectrum of island-based dramas with small casts, Ill Fares the Land was pretty good. It's a little-known TV dramatisation from the 80s about the year or so before the evacuation of St Kilda. Some of the accents are a bit exciting - apparently St Kildans sounded a bit Welsh? - but who am I to fact check such a thing. The history of St Kilda is one of those things that feels very otherworldly - on one hand, I want to know alllllll about it, and go there and poke around and find out everything there is to know about Iron Age settlements and medieval blackhouses, and on the other hand... the fascination of St Kilda has to do with its remoteness, its isolation, its distance from anything else. Part of me thinks it would be a shame to go barging into that. It's probably not a very academic way to think. But I do think it.
As for the books: I finally finished How to Suppress Women's Writing, and I have the pencil markings of an essay that I may or may not write on it when I get a bit more time - don't hold your breath, then, but if I do write it, I'll almost certainly put it here. On, again, the opposite end of some spectrum or other, 2k to 10k is a pep talk that I'm surprised I didn't get hold of earlier and which I certainly anticipate coming back to. Aaron is a very self-aware record keeper in a way I appreciate and aspire to. I love finding out how other people work.
Other things I've seen/heard this week: I deliberately ignored Lean on Pete because I was sure it would make me cry, but apparently it's very good and you should; another round of electroswing and adjacent (this is probably my most played of the last few days); and then there was Eurovision, which is the night of the year where I turn into a five-years-out-of-date trivia machine. On the other hand, however: Vikings. All round an acceptable (if not terribly outstanding) vintage.