Monday, February 05, 2018

Ten Year Top Ten

Lincoln in the Bardo is by far the best novel I have read in a long while.
So I set about compiling a list of the finest examples of long fiction I have consumed over the past decade here in Guatemala.

I wanted it to be a top ten, but the initial selection was unmanageably large, so I had to resort to the expedient of blackballing dead authors plus those books I had elected to re-read.

And this then is the final ten, in order completed...

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Breath by Tim Winton
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanassi by Geoff Dyer
Bring Up The Bodies by Hillary Mantel
Rustication by Charles Palliser
Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide
The North Water by Ian McGuire
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Thursday, February 01, 2018


I love Alexander Payne’s movies and his latest, Downsizing , is enormous fun.

It commences rather like an episode of Black Mirror that can afford Matt Damon, with a highish speculative sci-fi concept: that a proportion of the world’s population will choose to be reduced to five inches tall in order to save the planet.

A Norwegian lightbulb that one. Except that stateside the majority that elect to go small do so for reasons not entirely dissimilar to the rationale adopted by flyover Americans for re-settling down here in Central America. The satire in this early section, was for that reason, especially biting for me.

There follows another sequence involving a eurotrash house party straight out of Middle-American dreams/nightmares that was LOLsome. 

Beyond this Payne widens the range of his satirical targets and the screenplay does seem to lose some its tightness. Critics have made waggish remarks about the movie itself requiring some downsizing. But I've known enough Norwegians to have found the final act a bit of a hoot as well.