What we’re reading: Brodesser-Akner, Torres & Smith
Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on or the music we’re loving.
Amanda Rayner is reading Glory and its Litany of Horrors by Fernanda Torres (translated by Eric M. B. Becker)
I’m currently reading Glory and its Litany of Horrors by Fernanda Torres, translated from the Portuguese by Eric M. B. Becker. Torres, whose previous book The End sold over 200, 000 copies in Brazil, has been acting since the age of 13. It’s no surprise then that her protagonist, Mario Cardoso, is himself an actor; primarily known for his work on TV soaps. Finding his options withering as he becomes older, Mario decides to stage King Lear with himself in the title role. When this disastrous attempt fails, he moves back into TV where he realises that things can get even worse.
This is an intriguing and strange book. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in acting or theatre or who just likes something a bit quirky. The first chapter outlines the King Lear production and I laughed out loud at least 8 times!
Marie Matteson is reading Spring by Ali Smith
Now that Spring is here I finally have a chance to sit down and read Ali Smith’s third volume in her seasonal quartet. It gives me such a sense of renewal to return to Ali Smith’s writing. She is writing about now and she is facing it head on, and yet her words still brim with joy and hope and the wonder of people. She is the only writer I have read who gives me hope while cataloguing the horrors faced by detainees in Britain’s detention system.
Staying on the theme of renewal and return I have been listening to Sleater Kinney’s new album The Centre Won’t Hold over the last few busy weeks of the Melbourne Writers Festival. Sleater Kinney manage to be both the voice of 25-year-old me, raging at the world and also the voice of 41-year-old me, raging at the world while having lived through so much more of it. Older, weary, content in strange ways, but still with so much to say, Sleater Kinney’s latest is both wonderful and also very cathartic for us middle-aged women.
Declan Murphy is listening to The Mighty Boosh – Complete Radio Series
After a getting a very limited run on triple coloured vinyl for Record Store Day 2019 , the good folks at Demon Records have kindly issued a standard triple vinyl version for those who were unlucky enough to miss out in April (they flew out the door!) British comedy at its brilliant and bizarre best. Come with us now on a journey through time and space…
Jackie Tang is reading Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
There are some books that you finish and immediately want to talk to everyone about. Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s modern-day divorce satire, Fleishman Is in Trouble, is just that kind of book, full of shifting sympathies, blinkered narrators, and conflicts that, despite being incredibly specific to the upper echelons of Manhattan that these characters inhabit, contain a sense of universality.
Toby Fleishman is going through an acrimonious divorce from his soon-to-be ex-wife Rachel, and revelling in the freedom of the modern dating scene: the seemingly endless wave of women to swipe, the raunchy photos, the feeling of no longer being beholden to a wife who doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices he’s made to take care of their two children. When Rachel unexpectedly drops the kids off at his apartment one day, without any warning, and then disappears, he’s not particularly inclined to go after her – she does this sort of thing quite often, he thinks. As the days pass and Rachel’s absence continues, Toby is forced to reassess his view of their marriage, and just what things he missed that could have led to this predicament.
This isn’t a Gone-Girl-style book of shocking twists and turns, as the premise might hint at, but there is something thrilling in reading Brodesser-Akner’s sharp and clear-sighted understanding of the (scarily relatable) minutiae of domestic partnership and the psychology of a relationship. It’s also a bit of a Trojan Horse, performing elegant sleights of hand that I won’t spoil. Suffice to say that despite the titular character of Toby, this is also very much a book about (straight, cis-gendered) women and the weight of responsibility and rage and expectation that comes with. With slick stylish prose and a pacy plot that makes it a perfect ‘outdoors’ book, Fleishman Is in Trouble is the kind of whip-smart read you’ll want to infuse in as we head into the warmer months.