What’s our holiday reading this year?
I’m reading some clients’ work (a couple have just delivered some exciting new projects). The non-client book on my bedside table right now is Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. It’s not something I would have sought out, but a friend insisted I read it. I’m enjoying how evocative it is, how it makes me experience a very particular time and place… and how well his unfeasibly long sentences work.
The book I’m giving several friends for Christmas is Frances Hardinge’s The Cuckoo Song, which was a wonderful discovery this year.
We are away this Christmas and I am taking Deep South by Paul Theroux, whose writing I always find interesting. As we’ll be in Majorca I am also taking Wild Olives: Life in Majorca with Robert Graves. Graves settled in Deia in 1929 and was absent for 10 years during the Spanish Civil War. This is a wonderful memoir by his son, William, of the family’s return to Deia in 1946 and life with this great polymath. Graves’ legacy is clearly evident in Deia today.
A book I’d like to receive this year is Trunk Books- The Art of Smallfilms- The Work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. A wondrous illustrated book on the genius of two gentlemen who lived locally to my home.
And in other media?
It’s the run-up to the voting for the BAFTA awards, so I’m bingeing on movies right now. I love watching as many films as I can fit into one day, although after a week of this it makes you a bit funny in the head. Special favourites this year include Carol, Brooklyn, Suffragettes and Ex Machina. The new Charlie Brown movie also gets a big thumbs-up for honouring the original material while making it feel fresh.
In other media I’ll be catching up on the Swedish crime drama Beck, starring the understated Peter Haber and adapted beautifully for television from the books by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall.
Film wise I’ll be forcing my other half to finally watch the original Star Wars trilogy so that we can go and see The Force Awakens in January. I also have rediscovered the George Stevens film Shane and will be giving it a close watch. It’s a film in which much of the narrative goes unspoken and is much more than a ‘Western’ which it is often referred to as. It’s an absolute classic and I understand now why it was shown in English literature classes at school.
And what Christmas tales do we treasure?
For me, Christmas is about big long classic movies. What will it be this year? So often, we get served up The Sound of Music, which I had a troubled relationship with (is there enough insulin in the world to cope with so much sugar?) until I saw it again as a grown-up and noticed its vein of cynicism. This year over the break there’s Gone With the Wind, whose qualities are often overlooked. It’s such a good tale of coming to self-realisation that I find it a salutary reminder never to underestimate my own occasional blindness.
For nostalgia I often read Dickens’ Christmas Stories around this time of year but I prefer Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. This is a perfect short story of a young boy, Buddy, and his close friend who is also his much older cousin and their yuletide habits. The two are sadly removed from one another by time and circumstance. It’s an exercise in moving, symbolic concise writing, sentimental, brilliant on friendship which crosses boundaries and truly beautiful.