Just one from this past trip, actually, which is a bit of a shame. But what can I do? It's getting to be standard practice on aeroplanes now to have the monitors and a choice of a kabillion movies, and American films are really good at distracting me from my conviction the aeroplane is about the fall out of the sky. So before I get to the one book, a quick rundown of the movies; there were more than this but I can't remember them:
Robin Hood. It was silly but Russell Crowe is still a peice of mecha-ass, even if his head is shaped like a cabbage. And Cate Blanchett can make almost anything believable. Okay - maybe not the beach battle scene at the end. Actually there's no way I can pretend this was a good movie, but it didn't offend my easily offended sensibilities so that must be worth something.
Prince of Persia. I ended up being more emotionally committed to this movie than I would have believed possible because I started watching it on the plane from Vancouver, and then we landed sooner than I'd expected, so I didn't see the last half-hour until flying back to London, and it drove me crazy all week. Even sillier than Robin Hood but Jake Gyllenhaal is even more of a peice of mecha-ass than Russell Crowe.
Green Zone. So extremely silly and Matt Damon such a non-peice of mecha-ass that I gave up after half an hour. Who the fuck enjoys movies like that?
Anyways, Green Zone being so extremely bad more or less released me from the monitor and drove me back to the one book I got around to reading on planes, which was Patrick White's Voss. My literary friends tell me it's the Great Australian Novel. Hmm. It was pretty great, actually, I really enjoyed it, but it was as laboured as a fucking Italian wedding cake. And that isn't all bad, of course, and for me as a reader it worked very well when he was talking about the environment and people's relationship with it - and since that's what the bulk of the book is about, the book works quite well.
Heavy moons hung above Jildra at that season. There was a golden moon, of placid, swollen belly. There were the ugly, bronze, male moons, threateningly lopsided. One night of wind and dust, there was a pale moonstone, or, as rags of cloud polished its face, delicate glass instrument, on which the needle barely fluttered, indicating the direction that some starry destiny must take. The dreams of the men were influenced by the various moons, with the result that they were burying their faces in the pregnant moon-women, or shaking their bronze fists at any threat to their virility.
That's nice, right? I like it anyways. But when the style was applied to Voss's relationships with everybody else, or Laura Trevelyan's, and certainly their relationship with each other (which was so miserable, antagonistic, and unappealing a romance I wonder if I would have guessed White was gay without three or four people telling me before I started reading) it got too thick and deliberate. It's hard to drive a plot with poetry, I suppose. But White did well enough as far as I'm concerned, because I really liked the book in the end, even though bits of it came close to making me laugh out loud.
Also there was something somehow ballsy about the labouredness. I have a hard time imagining the shitty male writers who get the most press these days having that sort of commitment to conjuring up mental and environmental states in such painful detail - a commitment to their subject to the exclusion of even sounding like you're making sense. Yeah, that's ballsy. Assholes these days are too busy writing veiled movie treatments or expounding their own retarded views on the state of Modern England or whatever. For Jeebus's sake, just get a blog.