Adam by Ariel Schrag – Book Review *spoiler alert*

Adam is a teenager who’s finding life and friendship hard, so when the chance comes to spend summer with his older sister in New York, he jumps at the chance. His sister is gay and Adam is introduced to the world of Queer Culture, learning about pronouns and gender identity and so many new things. And then he falls in love, only Gillian thinks he is a trans boy and he can’t bring himself to tell her the truth and lose her. But it’s only a matter of time.

Oh, I had issues with this book. There were things that worked really well, like pretty clear explanations of terms that many folks are only just learning about and getting used to. And then, oh dear. Yes, I got that Adam was struggling with self-esteem, but his betrayal smacked of a man taking advantage of a woman. This, I could have dealt with if he got his comeuppance. But no, when the truth comes out, there are no consequences for him. In fact, he got the girl. It was not only a let down, it very much read as if it didn’t even matter. Sure, straight, white man. Come into a space which isn’t yours, learn some stuff, and then treat everyone like crap. No-one’s going to hold you to account. You can just walk away. It was such a disappointing cop-out. What’s more, because it was told from his point of view, the reader knows that he knows what he is doing is wrong. It seems, months after I read this, that I’m still really cross. I guess I just expect better.

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sanders – Book Review and Audio Book Review

Abraham Lincoln’s young son passed away while he was president, and he spent time in the mausoleum with the body, a very unusual thing to do during this time. There was documentation of Lincoln, of his life and behaviour, and on the death of his son, but apparently much was conflicting. Sanders has fashioned part of this book from quotes from these accounts, and then has created a mystical world full of the dead who have not yes passed to the afterlife.

In this way, it’s a hard book to explain, but as with much of Sanders’ writing, it’s poetic and mysterious and totally wonderful. When I read this, I started a couple of times, but kept putting it down until I could really dedicate time to reading it, because it took me a bit to get into the style. And then I just fell into it and loved it. Sometimes, I didn’t quite get what was happening, and some parts I still didn’t really get until I heard it on the audio book.

If you’re contemplating this book, I would highly recommend the audio book. The cast is amazing  (David Sedaris, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, Rainn Wilson, Susan Sarandon and the list goes on) and the way it has been produced works so well with the text.

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Never Go Back by Lee Child – Book Review

Finally, after several books, Reacher has made it to Virginia to meet Major Susan Turner, the voice on the other end of the line, only to discover that she’s been arrested and, to him, it all seems very suss. Then he’s informed that he is under investigation on two counts, one which is a lawsuit from a woman claiming that he is the father of her daughter. He could walk away from Susan and the investigations would disappear, but that’s not Reacher’s way.

This is the book that forms the basis of the second Reacher film starring Tom Cruise. As such, reading the book, I kept thinking I knew what was coming, but the film is quite different to the book. Having seen the film really ruined the book for me, which is a shame. Still, there are a whole heap more Reacher books that I’ll be able to enjoy that haven’t been ruined…

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A Wanted Man by Lee Child – Book Review

After his last adventures, Jack Reacher finally is on his way to Virginia to meet the woman who had helped him several books back. On the way, he is picked up while hitchhiking by an odd trio – three supposed work colleagues. He figures out that things are not as they seem, and meanwhile local and federal authorities are trying to solve a murder in a small town.

It’s implausible and ridiculous, but I love the way that Jack Reacher can work pretty much everything out in his head due to his knowledge about everything. He can work out that a bad guy is heading to a particular city because if you are on this road and you have this much fuel and you want to avoid this and make that, it’s the only place you can go. Or a whole thing about blinking and head nods and morse code and, look, it’s totally nuts and I’m totally buying it. I think this was one of my all-time Jack Reacher faves.

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The Affair by Lee Child – Book Review

We go back in time a bit from the last book, back to when Reacher was still in service and was sent to investigate a murder near a military base. Only, not really sent to investigate – politics and power, Reacher thinks he’s there for more of a cover up. But that’s not how Reacher works, especially when he discovers that there is not one dead woman, but three. And they all appear connected.

I kept feeling like Reacher was doing the wrong thing – and I liked it. He was not taking advice, he was walking into dangerous situations and getting into trouble. And, of course, he came out on top. Go Reacher.

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Swiss Army Man (2016) Film Review

What the… what did I just watch? A film about Hank (Paul Dano) who appears to be stranded on a beach somewhere when a dead body, Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up. He uses this body not only to survive, but to get him back to civilisation. Only… what?

This is magnificently weird, and I was surprised that I actually loved it. Well, most of it. It had that wonderful quirky US Independent film feel, and I was unsure if I was living in a very strange reality or the mysterious world of a delusional man –  and I didn’t care. And then it ended, and I really didn’t like the end at all. I felt like the world I was inhabiting was ruined, and I was left feeling that I just didn’t like the film, and that’s not true. I really did like it, just not the end bit.

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Rize (2005) Film Review

Remember krumping? I wonder what happened to that? Rize is a documentary surrounding some of the dance culture of South Central LA around a decade after the riots that happened in response to the outcome of the trial of the police who beat Rodney King to death in 1992. Specifically, the rise of Clown groups who put on clown makeup and attended kids parties to dance which then led to krumping. Groups who would get together and dance. It was aggressive, but it was an alternative to so much of the street violence that was happening.

It’s a fabulous documentary that I remember watching when it was first released. This is a world a long way from suburban Melbourne. Watching it again now makes me wonder what happened to these guys. I’ve just had a look – Tommy the Clown, the guy who started it all, has a website, runs an academy and there was a Battle Zone event just last year. Cool.

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