Book Review: A Simple Favour – Darcey Bell

The success of Gone Girl lead to a series of imitators. Some of them are full blooded and can stand on their own, but a lot of them are pale. Gillian Flynn’s book was not thrown together, but was carefully constructed and plotted – and she and other authors alike are probably sick of the endless comparisons. When you have a book like Darcey Bell’s A Simple Favour, which is a blatant facsimile of Gone Girl with all the good parts taken out and a thousand idiotic kitchen sinks thrown in, you have to make the comparison. A Simple Favour literally could not exist without the intervention of Gillian Flynn, and humanity is collectively stupider for it.

Book Review: Things We Didn’t See Coming – Steven Amsterdam

Things We Didn’t See Coming is a trap. In at least one paperback form, it does not have a blurb, just pull quotes. It is not until you open it and get a few stories in that you realise that they are all connected – and only then, if you’re me, because three consecutive stories featured a character called Margo. One can’t be blamed for not coming to this realisation sooner: Things We Didn’t See Coming has the appearance of a collection of short stories, and the majority of them, while post-apocalyptic, appear to deal with apocalypses of different varieties and root causes. The narrator is never named. Each apocalypse is presented without much in the way of context, and it does not need it. But, if you really are allergic to short stories, you may feel free to treat Things We Didn’t See Coming as a novel with large time gaps between chapters.

Constant Reader Chronicle: The Shining

The famous "Warren Beatty" first edition.

Spoilometer: this write up goes into a fair amount of detail about The Shining. It is not safe if you want to discover the secrets of The Overlook for yourself, because The Shining is one of the more pure delights available on this mortal plane.

The third book in Stephen King’s catalogue is The Shining, which is famous for inspiring one of the most iconic films of all time. However, Kubrick’s The Shining is the first of many adaptations that King has been disappointed in, to the point that he eventually had to sign an agreement saying that he would stop publicly expressing his distaste for the film.

While The Shining (1980) rightfully has a place in the cinematic canon, The Shining is a novel that we can not (doctor) sleep on. While both Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot had much to recommend them, The Shining is arguably his first masterpiece. Drawing on what we would come to recognise as parts of King’s personal, professional, and family life, there are many demons exercised and exorcised between these pages. The Shining is a completely realised work in a way that few novels of any genre are.

Movie Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Constance Wu is one of the finest actresses working today: magnetic, funny, tough and vulnerable, she deserves to have her own movie. In Crazy Rich Asians, that dream has come true for us all. Crazy Rich Asians is a fun rom-com based on – and changed from – the first instalment of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling trilogy. It’s exactly like a lot of things you’ve seen before, but it never matters when it’s done as well as this.

Read the review at Trespass.

Book Review: Whiskey When We’re Dry – John Larison

The Old West holds an intoxicating allure to the modern mind. Between both versions of Westworld, Back to the Future Part III, City Slickers and The Legend of Curly’s Gold alike, as a society we can’t help going back there. Whiskey When We’re Dry, John Larison’s debut novel, is a return to a well that we can visit any number of times without ever exhausting the supply. The West was boundless in the imagination, and can fit many stories; Whiskey When We’re Dry is one of the more meditative examples.

Movie Review: BlacKkKlansman

It’s no secret that the world is in political turmoil, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, set in the seventies, feels as painfully relevant as it does. Much can, and has, been said about the movie’s propping up of the police force as an institution despite its systemic racism, but it is a powerful piece of cinema and well made indeed.

Read the full review on Trespass.

 

Movie Review: On Chesil Beach

Ian McEwan is a writer of often exquisite novels that don’t always translate to the screen. On Chesil Beach is the second McEwan adaptation scripted by the man himself released to cinemas this year and, while it showcases the always excellent Saoirse Ronan to great effect, it doesn’t quite add up to itself.

Read the review on Trespass.

Movie Review: The Spy Who Dumped Me

Sometimes the best thing about a movie is its title. The Spy Who Dumped Me is not that movie, being much funnier than the moth eaten gag that it boasts for a name. Kate McKinnon is consistently the strongest element of every film that she features in, but The Spy Who Dumped Me is one of the first to properly utilise her. This is one of those films that will get overlooked despite its good nature, its reinforcement of positive female dynamics, and its more-competent-than-it-needs-to-be action choreography. Spy comedies may no longer be all the rage, but The Spy Who Dumped Me is a better example of the genre than Cars 2.

Read the full review at Trespass.