TINY FURNITURE (2010) has a young grad student (given she’s a New Yorker who went to college in Ohio, I’m inclined to see her as an Oberlin grad, even though they don’t specify) returning home to deal with her complete bafflement at What Comes Next in everything from career to relationships to her ties to her fractious family. Low-key and aimless, but that fits the topic—and in the end, more entertaining than tidier films like Reality Bites. “None of the kids are drunk!”
Part of my brother’s late birthday gift to me was a videotape of DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS (1965), the movie adaptation starring Peter Cushing as “Doctor Who” (it appears that’s his real name) and comedian Roy Castle as a bumbling Ian who accidentally sends the homemade TARDIS to Skaro (along with the Doctor’s relatives, Barbara and Susan) for a reworking of the second TV serial. Entertaining, though I wish Cushing had channeled some of William Hartnell’s more irascible side; while I hated the TARDIS the first time I watched this years ago, it actually does look like a plausible homemade time machine.“The bomb will release more radiation than even the Thals can stand.”
SHARPE’S BATTLE has Richard Sharpe assigned to train a crew of Irish recruits working for a stuffy Spanish grandee, in the hope he’ll drive the entire group away from Wellington’s army—but instead, Sharpe turns them into an effective fighting force just in time to take on a malevolent French general. One where I feel the book was a lot better, but still fun in its own right. “Capital—we’re sending a regicide to take on a royal battalion.”
THE BUSHBABY by William Stevenson is an early sixties novel in which a young teenager’s efforts to return her pet bushbaby to the wild before her white family leaves in the wake of independence serves as the excuse for an African travelogue, mixed with now dated musings on the future of Africa. Competent Pretty Descriptions but the rationale for making the trip is just too flimsy.
LILITH is George MacDonald’s allegorical fantasy in which a young man discovers the mirror in his attic gives him access to a spiritual realm where an old raven watches over a house of eternal sleepers and innocent feral children do battle with both coarse adults and a malevolent princess out to destroy them—and where the narrator himself has a part to play, but not the one he thinks. One of those that works better just being read rather than trying to parse out the significance of everything; slows down a bit after we get to Heaven, but otherwise superb.
THE HIDDEN by Richard Sala is an interesting horror novel in which survivors of a zombie plague discover the collapse of civilization is Frankenstein’s monster taking revenge on humanity—not bad in concept, but it didn’t work for me.
CONCRETE: Depths collects the early stories of Paul Chadwick’s remarkable hero, a cyborg (created by aliens transplanting a human brain into a rock-like body) who sets out to live the kind of adventures he never had the courage for as a human being (swimming the Atlantic, for example). Low-key, off-the-wall, thoughtful and charming.
UNWRITTEN: Leviathan by Mike Carey and Peter Gross has Tommy Taylor’s efforts to master his powers getting him sucked into the world of Moby Dick, getting eaten by the same whale as Jonah, Munchausen and Pinocchio and finally figuring how to return home; meanwhile, Lizzie and Savoy find themselves victims of a puppeteer in league (moderately) with the fiction-controlling conspiracy. As interesting as the earlier volumes in the series.