I recently read Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley. Even though I think Psychogeography is a bit pretentious, I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction, especially the many referenced books about and set in London. I am planning to read many of them – I took a lot of notes. I also bought a DVD of the two Patrick Keiller films mentioned (London and Robinson in Space). Paul and I watched London yesterday and I just loved its ambling story – from a never-seen narator – of wandering through 1992 London accompanied by the stories and thoughts of his – also-never-seen – companion, Robinson. London was such a gem. I can’t wait to watch Robinson in Space – where they leave London and wander around Britain.
I am interested in reading Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and A History of the Plague Year, as well as work by Iain Sinclair, Robert Louis Stevenson, Will Self, Arthur Machen, Edgar Allen Poe, Peter Ackroyd and probably others.
I am over halfway through the biography of Caroline Herschel that I picked up at the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath, the Comet Sweeper: Caroline Herschel’s Astronomical Ambition by Claire Brock. I’m really enjoying it. The lives of William and Caroline Herschel are very interesting. Below are some photos from the museum in Bath.
I am currently re-reading Neil Gaiman‘s fantasy Neverwhere, which is set in ‘London Below’, a secret, underground London rarely seen or understood by those who live in ‘London Above’. It uses lots of Underground tube station names for characters. It’s lots of fun.
I recently bought Michelle Tea’s book of poetry, the Beautiful for Helen for her birthday. I have a copy of it and I just love it. I also recently bought a CD of performances from Sister Spit, the performance poetry collective that Michelle Tea tours with. I love it. I think I will make a copy of it for Helen.
In the past week I’ve watched two interesting films that I borrowed from Blockbuster: The Norwegian The Bothersome Man, and the French Paris, Je T’aime (Paris, I Love You). I would recommend them both! The Bothersome Man is a strange tale of alienation and dislocation: Andreas arrives in a strange city, not knowing how he got there, but is provided with a job, an apartment and he gets on with his life. Everyone is pleasant but everything is very superficial and when he tries to kill himself he survives. Paris, Je T’aime has about twenty short films set in Paris and they were really great.
I recently read Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea. It is an easy-to-read novel about the loves and losses of four young women living in modern-day Saudi Arabia. It was interesting to see how they live with all the strict conditions placed on women but they are all very rich so they really have the resources to get around some of the restrictions. It left me wondering how the poorer women of Saudi Arabia cope with these restrictions, and it made me appreciative of the freedoms I am so used to: I’m very thankful of the freedoms that feminists fought for and I am very happy I do not live in Saudi Arabia.
Gamrah’s faith in her new husband is not exactly returned …Sadeem is a little too willing to please her fiance …Michelle is half-American and the wrong class for her boyfriend’s family …While Lamees works hard with little time for love. The girls of Riyadh are young, attractive and living by Saudi Arabia’s strict cultural traditions. Well, not quite. In-between sneaking out behind their parents’ backs, dating, shopping, watching American TV and having fun, they’re still trying to be good little Muslim girls. That is, pleasing their families and their men. But can you be a twenty-first century girl and a Saudi girl?