Hope you’re finding some peace, and that you and your loved ones are well.
I’m okay. Better than okay, actually. At the risk of coming over like a certain Messiah-like author who constantly translates his own pain and experiences into universal truths, I have to admit that – when I last wrote – I was coming of a week that had been a bit of a disaster <but interesting for me to observe in hindsight>.
I’d been constantly upset, anxious and stressed at my inability to get stuff done and at how much I had to do. HAD being the interesting word.
Of course, I’m a fixer. I’m sure there’s a shrink word for it, but I know that – my whole life – I was a good boy who made things right; played nice. Shared. Helped out. Was my parents’ ‘best boy.’
And as the other kids realised I was a sissy, the need to be liked (exactly as my peers drew away) made me focus on that helpful side, that fixing side.
Til, over time, it became a mechanism to avoid looking at my own pain: I was too busy with stuff (school work, worrying about my parents, being a good boy) and I did it again the week before last. The stuff that was stressing me out was me reverting to type in an attempt to blot out the chaos.
But here’s a thing <oddly, at Easter>: It’s not my job to fix the world.
So this week I’ve done stuff I wanted to do, and as a result I’ve been more relaxed.
Watched TV with David. Absolutely devoured DEVS. It’s on HULU in The States (which I’m told is a bit like being on Ecstacy in the 80s: Not everyone gets it, but the ones who do are so fucking smug about it they forget they’re not all that).
Anyways, it’s on BBC in the UK, and it’s awesome. Slow. So slow. Glorious, languorous panning shots of San Francisco, and of Neo-Brutalist architecture in DotCom valley.
It stars – well all the actors <every one of them> are stars, but my eyes were – ahem – drawn, in particular, to Sonoya Mizuno and Jin Ha <who’s already lined up as the second Mr Farrell when the current one needs disposing of>. They – and everyone else in the film – are beautiful, real, focussed, sharp.
The show has a plot that’s not as smart as it thinks it is (though tbh I think it sort of knows it’s not that smart). It reminded me, at times, of a long forgotten big budget Taylor Hackford movie from the 80s – all paranoia and dirty money bathed in Californian golden light – called “Against All Odds,” mashed up with a smart movie from a few years ago – all woodland glades and diffused light and barely suppressed B-movie mascara – called ExMachina. Then I checked the credits and what do you know? It’s Alex Garland, who made ExMachina (and The Beach and a few books I enjoyed in the early 90s).
Watch it. Thank me later.
I’ve also been doing this really simple (it’s designed for toddlers) thing three times a day. Really helps me. Might not work for you. I’m not a doctor. I’m barely a writer these days, to be honest.
Last week I read the new one from Neil Broadfoot. It’s called No Place to Die, and it’s a roller coaster of death and destruction and who’s-really-the-bad-guy set at a country hotel in Scotland where an ex Hedge Funder-turned inspirational speaker <think Jordan Belfort, but even sleazier> is holding a seminar, and various people are lining up to make him pay for various past crimes. Our hero – Connor – is the security expert charged with keeping this POS alive, and the plotting, pacing and timing are perfect. It’s more than just an average shoot-em-up, however; Broadfoot makes genuine human connections in his characters that makes this a cut above the basic Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am thrillers.
And I’m still returning – in awe – to Anthony Neil Smith’s Slow Bear <and was really happy this week to hear he’s working on a sequel to one of my books of the year>.
But also <perks of the trade, innit> this week I had a sneak preview of the new Mark Edwards book “The House Guest” which is out in the summer and is Batshit Briliant. A paranoid conspiracy thriller that reminded me of the best of it’s kind, and – because it’s set in NYC, a place I call my spiritual home – was like a long hot soak in a bubble bath. With razor blades somewhere in the foam.
And – off the back of his quiet, smouldering and emotionally powerful reading from Shining Like Rainbows on YouTube– I’ve just acquired Ian Ayris’ book for myself and for a West Ham fan of my acquaintance.
But my find of the week has been All Things Violent. Which is a book title and not a dedication to a life of blood-soaked nihilism <though if this goes on much longer…>
It’s by Nikki Dolson. Imagine if American Psycho had been written by someone who actually cared about people and not just stylism. Imagine if all your favourite hitmen novels were hitwomen novels. Imagine if Netflix wanted a twelve part episodic content that focussed on what happens when a young woman – via a combination of honour actions love and situation – ends up becoming a killer for hire. And imagine if they said they’d like something that put Caradine’s KungFu, Lawrence Block’s Keller Novels and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill into a NutriBullet and had Shonda Rhimes’ finger hitting pulse?
Buy it now. Thank me later.
So: even in the middle of all of this, books, and book people are still giving me life. Escape. Joy.
I joined a Virtual Noir at the Bar on Tuesday. Got shitfaced. Started writing a short story. Am excited that I’m writing. Am grateful I’m alive and healthy and loved and safe. I hope you and yours are too.
And while we wait to see what happens next, there are always books.