Friday, 8 July 2011

I love this book.

My favourite book of the past year--and I read a ton of books--is Megan Abbott's Bury Me Deep.

I realised recently that I have a special place in my odd little heart for stories where the protagonist ends up with a skeleton in his or her closet--usually literally--and it's a disastrous spiritual burden, a gory guilty secret. I'm thinking of Richard Wright's Native Son and the horror of the discovery of the bones he's hidden in the furnace. Or Hitchcock's Psycho and the car that keeps popping to the surface of the swamp like the villain in your worst nightmare. In Bury Me Deep it's a pair of suitcases that the heroine is left lugging all over the country (I don't think that's giving too much away seeing as it's based on a well-known true story, the Winnie Ruth Judd 'Trunk Murders'). This kind of story makes you feel scared and ashamed and the best kind of sullied.

Church of McGovern

This week I watched the first episode of Season 1 of UK screenwriter Jimmy McGovern's newest series, Accused.

I'm a gushing, dribbling fan of the writer, from Cracker and The Lakes on down. He's pretty much my hero. Accused did a lot of the things Mr. McGovern does best--turning the details of working class life into a functioning drama and playing out the pressures and injustices of the British class system--yet I have to admit was a bit disappointed with the legal scenes that rounded up the episode.

I understand that the show isn't a 'legal drama' (it explores the crime itself rather than the outcome) but to me it felt like the episode skipped it's natural climax and robbed me of my payoff for the hour I'd just invested in Willy Houlihan's problems. (Errgh, doesn't that sentence sound screenwriter-y? I feel like hitting myself.) I was left with the impression that the writing team's legal research may have been lacking regarding the trial process and that we'd just jumped over a plot hole or two. ("Wait, what? Go back!") I was surprised because that's really not like Mr. McG, he usually has so much respect for the viewer. I also didn't see his usual fleshy specifics in the characters of barrister, jury and judge so I was unable to understand why the verdict fell the way it did.

Series 2 has been commissioned and I'll watch a few more episodes of this one before I say more; Mr. McG has given me hours and hours of rapt viewing and a real live creative champion from my own side of the tracks, so the benefit of the doubt is the least I can give him in return.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I love this movie.

Laura starring Gene Tierney, directed by Otto Preminger.

Holy hell, she was beautiful.

I love this book.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Two thirds of the way through Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter I was beset with dread: I haven't been following this poor sad guy who has possibly, even probably, done nothing wrong only to watch him get crushed without mercy, have I Mr Franklin?

I love you, Mr. Franklin.

This novel is a perfect example of our simple yet elusive goal as writers: "a good story, well told". I loaned the book to four people in four days and they each read it in one sitting and wandered around with dazed, satisfied faces when they were done. I want to order copies for all my favourite book lovers and send them out as winter surprises.

I love this movie.

Night of the Hunter (1955) has my heart.