- Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
You can now follow me on Pinterest on what I’m reading, watching, and listening.
I’ve been really into BBC Radio these last few weeks and below is some of my current favorites. I’m not going to lie, Benedict Cumberbatch figures prominently in two of the series, so there’s that.
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by Alan Bradley
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
At this point, there is not much more one can say about this series that has not said before, so I won’t regurgitate it all over again. I will say I’m not sure where this story is going is the right path. The twists of where Flavia is headed, the AHA moment Bradley springs upon us, and how Bradley neatly ties up some lingering questions seem kind of amateurish. But obviously I’m on the hook now for what happens, so bring on book #7!
Sex and Rage: Advice To Young Ladies Eager For A Good Time by Eve Babitz
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)
Earlier I said,
I was introduced to Babitz recently via a recent article about her in Vanity Fair. The idea of an intellectual good-time girl intrigued me as it should, and I was dismayed to find that her work is not only largely unknown but also out of print. I was able to get a first edition copy ofSex and Rage via interlibrary loan to read and boy, am I ever glad I did. Babitz is glorious as a writer, the work hums with the fastness of the era, of the good time unapologetic choices that Jacaranda makes, doing so with such easy going nature you are desperate for the drugs she’s on.
Two of the books main characters are cities (LA and NYC), who are plumped up in their finery to show you what they are really like during their heights. Make no mistake, this is very much a roman à cléf of Babitz’s life and I don’t think this book would have been successful any other way. The only way to capture the essence of the era and the city would have been to live it as wildly and as fully as Babitz. Once you get past this is a thinly retelling of Babtiz’s life and realise her wordplay is punchy and clean, the book sails forward in all of its gloriousness.
Cakes and Ale by W. Somerset Maugham
(Amazon | Worldcat | GoodReads)
This is supposed to be HILARIOUS. A laugh riot. Bawdy. A modern retelling of Twelfth Night. In reality? A trainwreck.
The premise of the story is a moderately successful writer is approached by the family of a recently deceased big to do writer to write his biography. But there is a catch! The biographer has to erase all mentions of the dead writer’s first wife, who was so bawdy and outlandish, she turned him bohemian. Craz-zee.
Except, the linear story is a hot mess. We’re introduced to a nameless (at first ) 1st person unreliable narrator, a writer, at the beginning of the story who is fretting over accepting the call of a slightly more successful writer friend. Maugham then spends nearly 20 pages on what Mr. moderately successful is and isn’t. Then as we start to get into the meat of the story, so-called Mr. moderately successful is then dropped from the story. I’ve spent the next 70 pages of the primary unreliable narrator basking in the glow of his youth, and where we find out he is the one who has met the dead writer when the dead writer was married to the bawdy first wife. While the crux of the story is to circle around the moderately successful writer writing the biography, I’m 1/3rd of the way through and Maugham is dragging this on.
Maugham is better known, and respected, for his short stories which are supposedly sublime. I keep thinking I have read Of Human Bondage, but I think my memory is faulty. So Cakes and Ale is meh.
The Vikings ended a few weeks back and I’m curious to see where this goes. Historically, Ragnar Lodbrok doesn’t last long past what we’re at now in history on the show, and they have been tap dancing around the settlement of England (and yo. Dane law.). Where will this go and how much will the producers manipulate versus the truth?
- Penny Dreadful
Gaslight retelling of various Romantic and Victorian nightmares (Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Dracula) starting a James Bond, a Bond Girl, and a Companion. One episode in and it shows a lot of promise. I’m curious to how they will continue intertwining the various mythologies into a single story.
TheHusband is a big fan of Louie, so we’ve been watching this as it has been appearing. I find Louie’s comedy mostly great, but he always tends to have one or two jokes that fall flat with me.
- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Another new news show encompassing the weekly worth of events in half hour, but with a British spin.
Starring Billy Bob Thorton and Martin Freeman, along with a host of other big actors, on a spin of the Cohen brother’s movie.
I cannot possibly encompass the gloriousness of Eurovision in a mere paragraph.
- At Home With The Georgians
Originally aired in 2010, it was rebroadcast this past week to begin the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the first George of England. It stars one of my favorite academic/presenters Amanda Vickery. What is really interesting about this series is not just the historical view of the Georgian era, but how much we think is modern in terms of how we view homes and living actually is centuries old. DIY is not a novel or new concept.
Weekly watching: Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Americans, Survivor: Cagayan, Elementary
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?
This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003