Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Monday, July 19, 2004  

In place of an apology for lack of blogging (a round-up of recent reads, views & listens):

His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

I must be the last person who got around to reading this trilogy, but now that I have I can join the masses in vigorously singing its praises. Wonderfully imagined and beautifully written, by turns achingly poignant and exhilaratingly subversive. Harry Potter is literally kids' stuff in comparison.

A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes

A novel about children the way Lord of the Flies is about children (and written before Golding). One of the most truthful and unsentimental explorations of the nature of childhood I've ever read. Not an uplifting book--and the early portions, dealing with slavery, should be read with a great deal of irony if they are to be palatable--but fascinating and compelling nonetheless.

Spider-Man II

I liked the first Spider-Man well enough, and when I heard that Michael Chabon (who wrote the novel The Wonder Boys) had penned the screenplay for the sequel, I was intrigued. Despite several rewrites, it holds up well. The "With great power comes great responsibility" palaver is troweled on in places, and Peter Parker as nerdy loser (they should call him Dopey Maguire) is overdone, but generally the film is intelligent and entertaining. And the action sequences must be seen to be believed.


Not the awful mess I dreaded it would be. There's no pretentious overreaching, no overly-literary artifice. Gwyneth Paltrow--who has said she does not like Sylvia Plath's poetry--plays Plath as recognisably human, not some inviolate goddess. When, early on, she complains she can't find her subject, her husband grills her until she admits, sheepishly, she has known her subject all along: "Me."

Wave of Mutilation, The Best of the Pixies

A brilliant reminder--as, reformed, they tour the world to acclaim--of why the Pixies were the best band of their time. And one of the best bands of all time.

NYC Man: The Collection, Lou Reed

Two CDs encompassing the 40-year career of one of the great rock and roll mavericks. Worth it for the live acoustic version of the Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror" alone.

The Very Best of the Smiths, the Smiths

Because heaven knows we're all miserable at some time or another, and there is a light that will never go out, and... you get the idea.

posted by Jonathan | 11:52 AM 0 comments


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