So the last of these posts was in… April? Oops.
These posts are among my absolute favourites to write, because short-form raves about the books, music and shows I’ve been loving is kinda my thing, but they also take forever to write… and then there was that two months I spent doing nothing but playing Cooking Fever on my iPhone and watching episodes of Brooklyn 99, which nobody wants to read about…
(Your May-July recommendations: Cooking Fever. Although when you run out of gems with which to upgrade your kitchen equipment, it’s a pain in the arse and I refuse to be the guy that spends actual money on iOS games. And Brooklyn 99, but I know I’m late to the party there.)
So, August. It was pretty brilliant, until it wasn’t.
I started the month in Spain with the family, including my two-year-old nephew. I’m sure this comes as a surprise to literally nobody, but it turns out that two is the age at which kids start to become really fun to be around and we had an absolutely brilliant time. So much so that Auntie will be making more of an effort to visit him (and writing it here so that my brother can hold me to it).
We arrived back to a Glasgow in which my sister had already landed, kicking off just under three weeks in which we attempted to see as much of each other as we could. We popped by Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn On Tour popup at BAaD in the East End, saw the Mamma Mia sequel with our mum and did surprisingly little wedding planning when I took my brother-in-law to-be for a birthday bubble waffle at Bing Soul.
(Best moment, obviously, was when I was so busy trying to take a picture that I knocked mine over, sending Fruity Pebbles all over the table. Let that be a lesson to you, Instagrammers!)
We were about mid-way through August when my brain decided it wasn’t happy with how little medication it was getting, but you know all about that and there’s little more to add other than I seem to be stabilising on the old dose and all is pretty much well again. And I managed to read*, watch and enjoy a fair few things before I got there, so here they are!
(*I may add another post, if I have time, rounding up the books I haven’t had the chance to review because I like to cross-post them on Goodreads – but hey, just getting this one live feels like an achievement right now, so no promises!).
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018): Yes: me, you and yer maw all have an age-inappropriate crush on Peter Kavinsky. Sure, the title sets the scene as teenage Lara Jean deals with the fallout of the letters she wrote to her bygone crushes ending up in their hands, but to me this isn’t a story about boys – it’s a story about sisters. Okay, it’s a wee bit about boys. But still. Hitting on one of my all-time favourite storytelling themes means it gets my vote. Even if it’s set in a fictional universe where you can get direct flights to Glasgow from more than two US cities. ***
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018): I’ve found that, with certain films, my feelings about them are bound up in the circumstances I saw them in. For example, would I be so obsessed with a certain circus-themed blockbuster had I not seen it for the first time with my sister? It’s why, although I’d argue that it didn’t hang together as an actual film as well as the original, I’ll always have a soft spot from Mamma Mia! 2, seeing it as I did with my mum and my sister the last time I saw her this summer before she headed back to Dubai. Plus, I adore Lily James and would watch her act – and sing – her way out of a phone book, even if she’s being whored out to that wee dude from W1A by an entire French restaurant. ***
…and a special shout-out to the last scene of the trailer for The Spy Who Dumped Me, because someone told me that the film itself is trash and now I don’t want to sacrifice that feeling I got the first time I saw the trailer in the cinema.
Elaine Castillo – America is Not The Heart (2018): You ever read a book you start out liking well enough, but as you get further into it you find yourself reading faster and faster – despite never wanting it to end – because you get swept up into its fictional world? That’s how I felt about Elaine Castillo’s beautifully-written – and debut! – tale of first-generation Filipino immigrants to 1990s California. Plus, with its well-realised – and hot as f*ck – portrayal of bisexuality, this was the book I didn’t realise I’d been needing to read all summer. ****
Jes Baker – Landwhale (2018): You may remember that Jes Baker’s first book, the self-help-cum-memoir Things No-One Will Tell Fat Girls, resonated with me so strongly that I ended up writing one of my favourite pieces on this site inspired by it. Landwhale is definitely not the same book (and nor should it be): while it’s still served with a good-sized helping of badassery, it’s a much more traditional memoir which finds my favourite body positive heroine getting incredibly vulnerable. It definitely wasn’t as easy, or as fun, a read, but that probably makes it an even more important book. ***
Clare Mackintosh – Let Me Lie (2018): A densely-plotted psychological thriller from ex-detective Clare, in which new mum Anna is drawn by a mysterious note to reopen the suicides of her parents. All not as it seems, etc. Packed with twists – some of which I guessed, some of which I didn’t and one of which made me sob my wee heart out in the bath – this was a fast-paced palette cleanser after a recent run of heavier reading material. ***
Claire Askew – All The Hidden Truths (2018): Although Edinburgh-based poet and lecturer Claire Askew’s debut novel is being marketed as crime fiction, it differs from many books under that banner in one crucial way: there was no question of “whodunnit” about the campus shooting which opens this brutal, gorgeous, staggering work. Incredible writing and brilliantly complicated characters (the book adopts a three alternating viewpoints: those of the mothers of the first victim and the killer himself, as well as the newly-promoted cop who finds herself heading the investigation) which ultimately take you to a place that you will not expect. Easily my book of 2018 so far. *****
The Spotify 2018-mixtape-in-progress (now with its own permanent home over there in the sidebar!) continues regardless of how reliable I am at updating anything else. New additions this month: big-hearted Americana from Ashley McBryde. Career-best heady punk from Slothrust (a band I discovered through my favourite TV show and only ever grew to love harder). Janelle Monae‘s weirdly wonderful futuristic soul-funk, making this easily the best month for bisexual representation on LYG since, well, I suppose I write about myself here after all but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. There was a new Cat Power song too, with Lana Del Rey on backing vocals, and all was right with the world.
Fishnet: The Relaunch, Waterstones, Glasgow, 14th August: After six months out of print following the closure of her previous publisher, Kirstin Innes’ prize-winning debut novel Fishnet was reissued this month in a gorgeous new edition, courtesy of Edinburgh’s Black & White Publishing, with a new afterword paying tribute to sex workers’ rights activist Laura Lee. I loved this book so much there’s a quote from this very blog – from before I was even doing book reviews! – at the front, so my emotions were spilling over hearing a heavily-pregnant Kirstin read from it following an interview with Kaite Welsh (feminist publishing dream team right there). Buy this powerful, clever and never-more-timely work from Black & White – I’d stake money on you loving it if I wasn’t agin that sort of thing.
- How an Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Stole Millions (The Daily Beast)
- The Sherpa Of New York (Deadspin)
- The Black Dog is not the only dog that blocks creativity (Louis Barabbas)
- The Problem With “Not Caring” About Pop Culture (Man Repeller)
- Shirley Manson: The First Time I Cut Myself (New York Times)
- Twinings Fruit Infusion tea bags for cold water bottles;
- “Auntie on a bus!”
- My talented li’l bae Charlotte’s first Blog & Beyond workshop in Glasgow (re-running this weekend, and hopefully not sold out yet…);
- post-Fringe Kat Von D makeovers and ridiculous cocktails with my best girl Natalie.
How was your summer, pals?