It’s time for one of those posts I do every once in a while about things I’m into, from no particular category, in no particular order.
1. The Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. The book club I was part of in Virginia (I keep in touch with these friends and try to read the books when I can) chose book one, The Bear and the Nightingale, as this month’s pick. I voraciously consumed it in a little less than a week, and now I’m on book two, The Girl in the Tower. (I decided to buy the whole trilogy yesterday in book form yesterday even though I already have two on my Kindle. They’ll look nice on my shelf.) I’m loving this historical fantasy about pre-tsar era Russia, with its beautiful descriptions, nuanced and mostly likeable characters, and a fairy-tale quality that comes through in unexpected ways.
2. Audm. This subscription app allows me to listen to long-form journalism pieces from some of America’s most respected publications. It entertained me (and provoked thought) throughout most of my drive from Michigan to Pennsylvania on Friday. I’ve listened to articles (just to name a few) about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, why most Americans don’t cheat on their taxes, and a man who got out of a white supremacist group in Britain and started working against them at risk of his life. I also listened to a profile of folk singer Rhiannon Giddens, which alerted me to her new album there is no Other, which I then looked up and listened to for the rest of my drive. (item 2.5) It’s a haunting, minimalist album that I’m not going to try to describe because I’m already using pretentious music review cliches. Two thumbs up.
3. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected). My mom is working her way through all of Adam Sandler’s movies because she and I are going to see him live next week–another story for another time–and I joined her for this 2017 Netflix original featuring Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, and Emma Thompson, among others. It’s about an ageing artist who has a chip on his shoulder about his declining reputation and, more importantly, who’s made a mess of his relationships with his children. Then he collapses and ends up in a coma, and the kids and his flighty current wife have to figure out what to do. That sounds unpleasant, but the dialogue is fascinating. It’s how real people talk. I aspire to write dialogue like that. There were many moments when I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. And the ending was pretty hopeful, believe it or not. Two more thumbs up.
4. Dirty Turtle at The Meadows Frozen Custard. Last night I made my mom go with me on a sort of summer-kickoff mini-adventure. I wanted to watch the sun set from a spot where I’d never seen it before, visit a war memorial (in honor of Memorial Day), drive with the windows down, and eat ice cream. It was a cloudy evening, so we didn’t see much of a dramatic sunset–plus we were nervous that the community park was serious about closing at sunset and that we would get stuck in there overnight, so we just did a driveby of the war memorial and then drove to a nearby housing development where we parked by a vacant lot on top of a hill and watched what was left of the sunset. But we did get a delicious frozen dairy treat, even though I was envisioning hand-dipped ice cream rather than the soft-serve custard that The Meadows dishes out. That’s okay, though–I ended up really enjoying the Dirty Turtle my mom recommended: chocolate custard with walnuts and salted caramel. I’m not sure why places like this think it’s cute to put “dirty” in the title of their food and drink items; I think in this case it just meant that the ice cream was chocolate? I don’t know. But I could definitely eat one of those again. FYI, The Meadows is a chain of custard parlors (? is that a thing?) in Pennsylvania and Maryland only (I think); perhaps those of you in other locations can suggest this flavor combination to your favorite local ice cream joint.
Let me know what you’re enjoying in the comments!
I am currently obsessed with Oscar Wilde. It started a few months ago when I read, for the first time, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I just finished The Collected Oscar Wilde, a 268-page volume, and am now reading “De Profundis.” I have two more books on order from Thriftbooks. One is a collection that includes more of his plays and the other is a play that another author wrote about Oscar Wilde’s trials. I cannot decide if I would have liked Wilde if I had met him, but his writing is so gorgeous. I think my favorite, so far, is “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” I just found online a letter he wrote about the treatment of children in prison. Of course, I have to add “The Soul of Man under Socialism” to my historical research.
Kandy, I love Oscar Wilde too! I don’t know if I would have liked him as a person either, but his writing, like you said, is beautiful. The plays are a hoot—very different from the serious stuff you’ve been reading (but with some of the same themes). You should read his fairytales too!
I absolutely loved “The Fisherman and His Soul” and “The Birthday of the Infanta,” from the collection I read. I am not sure if those are from his fairy tales, but they have that feel to me. I plan to extend my collection of his works whenever I can. Wilde was truly a literary genius. I am now in the part of “De Profundis” in which he describes how he changed with his imprisonment. His description of learning from his suffering is so powerful. I have found it interesting to compare his arrogance in his earlier essays (beautiful, witty arrogance, but arrogance nonetheless) with his passion in “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” I think his descriptions of his suffering in “De Profundis” describe that transformation. I do wish he would have lived longer. I wonder what he would have written in his later life, perhaps when he had more of a chance to heal from his experiences.