Life's too short

...for many things, as it happens, but specifically in this instance for books you don't get on with. Having been recommended the works of Jodi Taylor several times by people I like very much, I'm forced to conclude that actually, I don't think she's my cup of tea. It pains me to say this, because lady time travellers are by their very nature exactly what I want to be reading. But alas, I have not been grabbed.

Oddly, I'm more at peace with that because I know that there are plenty of other people who really enjoyed Just One Damned Thing After Another. I'd rather think that enjoying a book is a matter of taste; it's a lot easier to say "Sorry, this isn't for me," if it really is about personal feelings rather than arbitrating on something's objective worth. I don't believe in worthless books. Even as I very much do believe there are things in the world I don't want to spend more time with than I need to.

77. Custody (film, dir. Xavier Legrand, 2017)
78. A Fistful of Dollars (film, dir. Sergio Leone, 1964)

Speaking of things several people have told me to see - Custody is one of them, and I'm passing that recommendation on to you, because it's excellent. It's in French; apparently it's Legrand's first feature film, which is amazing, and he had a hand in writing it, which is unsurprising. It's a masterclass in wringing conflict out of facial expressions, and painting empathy large - you know the father is violent right from the start, but you barely see anything until the last five minutes. And you don't need to. It's not a story about him - it's about the people who have to spend every minute of every day second-guessing themselves to try and stave off those five minutes. Custody is 90 minutes of an eleven year old boy trying not to cry. All that and subtitles is a bit of a brain-melter, and I want to watch it four more times.

As for A Fistful of Dollars, I missed the first half-hour, and I wish someone had told me it was a comedy when I went in. I can see why you'd love the Spaghetti Western aesthetic. That poncho though. Also, an honourable mention for the fact that I now have the music stuck in my head.

I've been slowly working my way through How to Suppress Women's Writing by Joanna Russ. There are no physical copies to be got hold of in this city - apparently it's having a Moment, and getting a reprint. The reason it's taken me more than a month to read a 150-page e-book is that I get halfway through a chapter in a go and need to stop, go outside, and scream at the sky. It's a very frustrating book (entirely deliberately), and also fits in remarkably well with the flow of the rest of my thoughts lately. (For example: the unofficial Mookbarks cover star is Margaret Cavendish, who Russ evidently feels as much affection for as I do.)

It's hard to write quietly in a corner without peers. It's hard to know where to go, sometimes, to find people who know what you're talking about in the same level of depth. Maybe that's why I get so embarrassingly overexcited at other people's conferences.

More on Russ when I've finished with her.