Can’t Keep Up With La Carre? That’s Kinda The Point

The-Little-Drummer-Girl

The first few episodes of the BBC’s adaptation of John Le Carre’s The Little Drummer Girl, adapted for TV by the same team who did the astonishing The Night Manager a couple of years ago.

Many watchers who fancied seeing something similar have since switched off, but for those that really enjoy a good spy drama from Director Park Chan-wook. There are some truly awesome performances, particularly from Hollywood favourite Michael Shannon, whose slimy spymaster is equal parts hilarious and intense, with his regular yells of ‘Shimon’ and his disconcertingly fraught and changeable conversations.

Alright, so you do have to suspend disbelief at times, but still The Little Drummer Girl is an exquisite drama. However, many watchers on Twitter have complained about how complicated the show is. To this I say: If you want something easy, go watch Pingu. The Little Drummer Girl is a spy drama; spies, by their very nature, live complicated lives, and portraying these is bound to be a little confusing.

Also, you have the issue of creative licence. I’ve just bought the book of The Little Drummer Girl, as I’ve never read it before and the series has wet my appetite, but having been a fan of Le Carre for years I know that he often uses characters with multiple identities and pseudonyms, as well as narrative devices such as flashbacks and swift transitions between time and place. In televising the novel Chan-wook has utilised a number of filming techniques to keep his viewers entranced. This can confuse some, but it’s designed to keep you watching and make you really pay attention.

That’s the key problem, in my opinion: in a world of easy watching, where shows can be paused and re-joined quickly and easily, viewers are turned-off by the idea of having to really pay attention. You can’t go off and call your sister, make yourself a snack or check Facebook before returning to The Little Drummer Girl. By the time you get back they’ll be using different names, in a different country and they’ll be a completely different threat.

Previously there was also a film version, and I’ve not seen this, but I suspect that the issues remain largely the same; this is a grown up drama that you cannot tune in and out of easily.

Look at the end of the day, I reckon a big part of the problem is that there’s no Tom Hiddleston equivalent in this adaptation. Alexander Skarsgård is no substitute, and as such viewers can’t stare at his arse whilst not following the plot. Let’s face it, both dramas were equally confusing and deceptive, but the introduction of a Hollywood star made many keep watching The Night Manager long after they lost interest in the plot. The Little Drummer Girl does not have this benefit, but as a stylish, beautifully crafted adaptation there’s nothing currently on TV that can hold a candle to it.

 

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Happy Halloween! Hope You Get To Spend It Reading!

halloween books

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re having a spooky day and getting more treats than tricks! Thanks for checking out my blog and mad love to all my followers- I appreciate your support! I hope you’re having a great day filled with dressing up, sweets,  silly decorations, pumpkin carving and, of course, reading!

If you need some inspiration on what to pick up today then take a look at The Top Five Best Short Reads to Spook You Out On Halloween as well as The Top Five Edgar Allan Poe Stories to Give You The Shivers and of course The Ten Best Horror Stories! Happy Reading!

Super Thursday: It’s Been A Great Week For Readers

super thrusday

This past week readers have been treated to an array of new releases which will give us many new books to devour over the coming weeks.

This past Thursday, October the 4th is known as Super Thursday, a term coined by the Bookseller Magazine for the day every year when publishers gear up for the Christmas rush by releasing a flurry of exciting new books.

This year more than 500 new releases were on offer on Super Thursday, a figure that trumps last year’s total. There’s something for everyone among the haul, including the latest release by renowned children’s author Jacqueline Wilson, whose novel My Mum Tracy Beaker marks the return of her beloved character.

For crime fiction fans there’s a plethora of new tomes out there to choose from, including the new one from this blog’s old pals Peter James and Hugh Fraser, whose latest Stealth looks set to be another triumph in the Rina Walker series. There’s also the latest offering from Rebus creator Ian Rankin, promising readers a great chance to immerse themselves in death and despair in time for Halloween.

Over the coming weeks they’ll be many more exciting releases in the run-up to Christmas, including the long anticipated autobiography of Michelle Obama, Becoming, Stay Hungry, the story of Boxer Anthony Joshua’s rise to stardom and Guy Martin’s latest offering.

In other genres there are some particularly hyped releases, including the latest in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series Fire And Blood, and the screenplay for the upcoming film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling.

All of this and more means that the festive season looks set to be a corker for readers and booklovers as they buy themselves a little treat to mark the end of a good year, to get themselves through the long slog home for the festivities or as a gift for a loved one.

Killing Eve: Sure, We’ve Had Female Villains, But Not Like This

killing eve

Bandwagon Alert! My friend has been talking about the new TV series Killing Eve since the BBC first aired it, so I bit the bullet and watched the first episode, expecting to find the usual tawdry stereotypes and then be able to turn it off, safe in the knowledge that my indifference or disdain was justified.

I am extremely pleased to say that I was completely wrong. I loved this show so much I binge-watched it and finished it in about two days. Many people argue that it is a great feminist black comedy, and I completely agree. It is fantastic to see an inclusive show where women, and particularly women of colour, at the forefront, although it would’ve been great to have seen some differently-abled women as well.

She fights dirty, she sleeps with whomsoever she pleases and she is generally a well-rounded, three-dimensional character. Also, it is truly great to see a woman eating on TV that isn’t sexualised- think lollypops and ice creams being sucked seductively (in fact, the opening scene is literally a parody of this). Instead, Eve and Villanelle are seen eating simply for nourishment, because they’re hungry. It’s great to see that, even if it is a strange thing to say. How often do you actually see women eating on screen?

Also, she buys things she likes, plays tricks, and is generally a well-rounded, defined character. She is more than just a sex object or a one-dimensional form of feminist rebellion. Unlike many female villains, such as Amy in Gone Girl, she does not have an ordinary life from which she is escaping, and unlike Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes stories, she is not defined entirely by her life of crime. There are nuances to her character that have not been seen in female villains before, either on screen or in literature.

The trick is that the show was created by women, and portrays real women doing real women things. Although the original novellas were written by Luke Jennings, it was Phoebe Whatsit-Brigadier who created the series and adapted the books for TV.

Having never read Jennings’ work I cannot say how accurate the portrayal is, but it’s clear that the Fleabag creator has defined the character and made it her own. She has developed a TV series unlike any other, and this is redefining the female villain for a generation of crime fiction readers and watchers, which can only be a good thing.

Insta-Books: Will They Take Off Or Be A Futuristic Flop?

new york public library

I’ve already expostulated on the merits of physical books over eBooks and Kindle editions, but a recent announcement has bought a new contender into the fray.

The New York Public Library has recently announced that it is creating Instagram novels to attract young people and get them into books. Partnering with creative agency Mother in New York, the library is creating a unique solution that might just help the young to get into books.

Its first offering is an adaptation of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and the Instagram version, unlike normal stories on the site, will be available for the foreseeable future, as opposed to 24 hours, as stories usually are.

Other social media sites already have literary themed accounts or ideas, including Twitter, where there are numerous accounts dedicated to one-line stories, quotations from famous authors or short reviews. Facebook also has numerous literature themed accounts and there are literally hundreds if not thousands of literary memes on the Internet, but this is the first time that books have been serialised in such a specific way. Obviously aimed at getting a younger generation, who are hooked on social media, into literature, this is an innovative means of going about it.

So, in the form of a gateway post between social media and real literature, it is my hope that these new Insta-books will pave the way for young people to find new favourites and learn about authors they had previously never even thought about. Rather than phasing out actual reading, as some people believe this might cause, I hope that it will simply be another way of getting readers to find out about the classics by reaching out to them on a platform they’re already familiar with, and leading them straight into the open arms of their local library.

While I don’t believe that Instagram books will ever replace the thrill and enjoyment of actual reading, and physical books in particular, it’s certainly a great idea to get young people, particularly the generation that has been bought up hooked on social media, hooked on books, and if the New York Public Library’s idea works then more power to them. In the same way that once-upon-a-time the way to get kids into books was to host readings or use special editions to entice them, now social media is the way forward, and I’m all for progress if it gets more people into literature.

 

 

Soneva Bookshop Role: A Great Opportunity for A Bibliophile

soneva fushi bookseller role

As part of my role at a publishing house whose publications include a luxury lifestyle magazine, a couple of years ago I had the privilege of staying at Soneva resorts in the Maldives as part of a press trip with a group of journalists.

Our stay was primarily at Soneva Fushi, where recently a job opportunity has been placed for a bookseller to share their love of books and experiences on this stunning island paradise. I have to say, whoever the successful applicant is, this will be an ideal role if you have the experience and the social media savvy to take full advantage of the opportunities it has to offer.

After all, this is the ultimate in Instagrammable resorts. Alongside its sister resort just across the sea, Soneva Jani, which I have never seen fully open, as it was being built at the time I visited, Soneva Fushi is a picture perfect destination ideal for sharing on a blog or social media. With the added bonus that the glorious palm trees and luscious long white beaches make it a great platform for taking exceptional photos of yourself indulging in a little light reading.

The resorts are rather isolated, being in the middle of the sea, and with little civilisation beyond Malé, the region’s capital, which is reachable by seaplane or boat. As such, it would be tough to get new reading material in a hurry, but then I suppose that would be the beauty of working for a bookseller- free books! If needs be, you could always get yourself a Kindle and load it up with your favorites and some new picks to check out on the beach.

The resorts also offer the very best in luxury hospitality, with five star accommodation throughout. After all, the Maldives is renowned for its decedent atmosphere, and many A-list celebrities have been known to frequent Soneva’s resorts, which feature over-water villas with slides directly into the sea, expansive pools and tree-top dining. There are all manner of watersports available, from a diving school to Soneva’s own yacht, which can be hired out for when you fancy showing off.

With all this and more on offer, it is understandable that anyone who has ever even opened a book will be clamoring for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and frankly I don’t blame them. It will be fascinating to hear how the successful application does and I personally will be subscribing to their blog at the earliest possible opportunity to find out more about their adventures and how they enjoy their time reading and reclining in the lap of luxury.

 

Bookshop Attack Hits At The Heart of Society

bookmarks attack

The attack on the weekend on Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop in Central London, proves that the far right has gained a firm hold in society. After all, bookshops are the traditional heart of the community; unlike libraries, as private stores they have the right to choose a stance and sell the books that fit the ideologies of their owners.

After activists attacked the shop and, thankfully, only scared the staff (there were no reported injuries to staff), I personally felt that the attack should galvanise those who believe in human rights and encourage those writers who want to make a positive difference, rather than putting them off.

Wearing Donald Trump memorabilia and draped in a Union Jack, the activists focused on books on Islam and anti-racist magazines, this was very clearly an attack not just one specific bookshop, but on a whole ideology- one that actively promotes inclusion. Earlier this year Gay’s the Word had its windows put in in another display of fascism.

Whilst it would be easy to be disheartened by such an attack, this physical display of violence highlights how relevant books and bookshops remain in the spreading of ideologies and ideas, and as such rather than feeling upset by the incident and put off writing for fear of reprisals, novelists and social commentators alike should focus on creating even more work. Not only will this prove that the attackers have not won, it will also create a legacy for many years to come of writing that is born out of fear, and still manages to showcase the very best of the human race.

Ultimately, whilst it is true that Trump and his cohort, alongside the UK’s Tory government, have certainly helped to stir the pot, at its heart this attack proves that, now more than ever, books and literature are a key media despite the move online for many publications. Even in 2018, books remain a key weapon for the people, and as such writers should use this to their advantage, and write their truths, no matter what the threat.