Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Consumption Diary: Jan-Feb 2024

MUSIC - February


Right Story, Wrong Story: Adventures in Indigenous Thinking by Tyson Yunkaporta (non-fiction, audiobook, Australia, 2023) - A worthy successor to Sand Talk, but I'm worried I might come across as one of the wrong kind of fans of Yunkaporta's books (who Yunkaporta addresses in this latest book).

She's a Killer by Kirsten McDougall (novel, physical book, NZ, 2021) - Holy Moses this was great. This seems weird to say, and only just occurred to me several weeks after reading it, but it's like a grown-up Fight Club. The disaffection. The bifurcation. The sardonic wit. But without the empty nihilism and cheap shocks.

Madness is Better Than Defeat by Ned Beauman (novel, audiobook, UK, 2017) - So long. Too long. Lots of Pynchoneering. But about three-quarts of the way through it starts to reference how long it is and then it starts to get really good. 

Happy Place by Emily Henry (novel, audiobook, US, 2023) - The third (I think) book I've read of Henry's... not as good as Beach Read, better than You and Me on Vacation. Perfectly acceptable summer holiday fare.

Shy by Max Porter (novel, audiobook, UK, 2023) - The usual Porter: lyrical, Alan Garner-esque, get-in get-out before you can be accused of dark tourism (grief, depression, despair)... but probably his most affecting (very short) novel to date.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray (novel, audiobook, Ireland, 2023) - The Irish Franzen? As if anyone would deliberately set out to do that, but when pitted against Sally Rooney's sparser, more caustic vision of young people in Ireland, perhaps Murray had to go generational? 

Border Districts by Gerald Murnane (novel, physical book, Australia, 2017) - I don't read a lot of physical books due to eye/brain/life issues. I can't decide if this kind of book is perfect for people like me or a bad idea: it's so interior and meandering that it works well in 3-5 page spurts. It's clear he's a genius, turned an an oblique angle from most of the rest of us, but I'm not sure the angle is particularly... interesting??? Or am I making the mistake of reading this as fake fiction (a.k.a. autobiography without a fact checker)? Guess I'll have to read another Murnane and report back.

Baumgartner by Paul Auster (novel, audiobook, US, 2023) - Auster can be hit or miss. And sometimes he can wedge the dart right in the frame of the dartboard, like with this book, which is kind of neither. 

World Within a Song by Jeff Tweedy (non-fiction, audiobook, US, 2023) - meh. I didn't like the Dylan book where he tried a similar thing of using individual songs to anchor each chapter (but with more brio), so maybe it's just a bad approach?

I am Homeless If This is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore (novel, audiobook, US, 2023) - I love Lorrie Moore. Nothing will change my affection for Birds of America and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? and Self-Help and A Gate at the Stairs, but IAHIFINMH was kinda forgettable, sad to say.

Sure, I'll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford (non-fiction, audiobook, US, 2023) - felt too much like stand-up, not booky enough, soz.

Death and the Conjurer by Tom Mead (novel, audiobook, UK, 2022) - nope.


Checking in on my semi-random reading targets for 2024:

  • At least ten single-author poetry collections: 0/10 (fear not...)
  • At least one book from every continent: 3/6 (Asia, South America and Africa to go... may also need to read a book about Antarctica for completeness)
  • At least four books in translation: 0/4
  • At least four books by Australians: 2/4
  • At least five different genres of novel: I'm going to say a conservative 3/5 (romance, mystery, and lit-fic), but pretty confident there'll be some hard sci-fi and detective fiction coming down the chute. Maybe I should have aimed higher, or set a more specific target? Oh well.


From December I've been participating in a Creative Impact Lab focussing on climate change. You can read more about it here or here (I'm guessing these event-based links might break one day). It culminated in a group exhibition at Tūhura Otago Museum (my first time having "art" [text-heavy video works] exhibited) and a few public events (like this one) in support of it. May potentially go a bit further (exhibiting elsewhere, and maybe a supporting publication/book). 

It's been great to be thrust out of my comfort zone, but in a really supportive environment. 


Carol and the End of the World
- Season 1 - So good. Watch it! It's slow-thrilling like Better Call Saul, has a couple of episodes to rival "Forks" (The Bear) as best standalone, self-contained masterpiece episode of 2023, while being this deadpan, dry-as-cold-toast animated 

Fargo - Season 5 - I have a hard time differentiating seasons 1-4, and maybe 5 will get put in the memory blender shortly, but right now it stands out for leaning less into the strong female cop and more the strong female suspect/victim/hero. Super enjoyable, but also frustrating (John Hamm is so good at being baaad).

The Curse - Season 1 - gave up after 3 episodes (it's deliberately cringy, which isn't my favourite genre) but returned after I caught wind of a crazy ending. And yep, the second half of the final episode sure is crazy. Verdict: worth it.

One Day - Series 1 - good sound track, middling execution (my wife didn't realise the premise of the show was each episode was the same day in successive years until I mentioned it in episode 4 - and I totally can understand how), some good acting, but ultimately *spoiler alert* let down by making cycling seem unsafe (LOL) and revealing that the show (and the novel) had a main character and it was the one you cared less about.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Season 12 (still in progress)


Mister Organ

Sleeping with Other People

Paper Planes

Leave the World Behind

The Other Guys

I Love You, Beth Cooper


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