The Quarantine Diaries, Week Four

Saturday 4 – Friday 10 April

Watching:

High Fidelity on Hulu; a sparklingly-soundtracked revamp of the 2000 John Cusack movie with Zoe Kravitz in the lead role as the charming yet curmudgeonly record store owner.

Pros: Kravitz is a delight to watch, particularly when sparring with Jake Lacy’s character Clyde; the music, the sexual politics (women can be dicks too!), the acknowledgement that mourning the end of a relationship can take a really long time, the sartorial inspiration.

Cons: the aspirational aesthetic / bullshit fiction of living in New York City – Kravitz’s character drinks whiskey neat, smokes like a chimney, eats fruity pebbles for breakfast – and yet her skin is perfection, she has that boho chic loft apartment that she manages to afford living in alone despite working at a record store where custom is sporadic at best (except on Saturdays when it thrives), but yes I do also want to escape to that fantasy land and watch a beautiful woman who is her own boss gallivant her way through hangovers and heartbreaks and vinyl-based woes.

My Life as a Courgette; perfection.

Season 5 and 6 of The Americans; I still have the final handful of episodes to go, but my god has this gotten really sombre and tragic. It is a joyless show. It’s multi-layered and like many of their espionage missions, masterfully executed – it’s closest televisual compadre is probably Mad Men in terms of its laser-like focus on a lesser-known part of American history, but whereas that show retained a shimmer of glamour and wit amid the all the soul-destroying, this is storytelling at its most austere. The New Yorker called it the whiskey sour of television, because watching it is indeed bittersweet. Perhaps the grand finale will restore my early ardour for it, but right now I’m wondering if I should have sipped it rather than downing it all in one go.

A conversation between writers Alice Vincent and Lucy Jones about their books (Rootbound and Losing Eden respectively) on our reclamation of, or rather, re-immersion into nature.

Reading:

The Years by Annie Ernaux; an exquisite, assemblage-style memoir that traces her experience, though told through a sort-of collective third person, of the period from 1941 to 2006. Melancholic and impressionistic, she weaves in a vast array of subjects including WWII, the Tour de France, feminism, consumerism, the digital revolution, popular culture, 9/11, marriage, divorce, motherhood, creativity and selfhood. It’s both wide-ranging and incredibly specific, personal yet universal. It was gorgeous.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean; a birthday gift and a gift of a book. A non-fiction account of the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library that burned over 400,000 books, that despite dealing with destruction and arson, is alight with characters, poetry and wit.

This feature in the New York Review of Books by my new favourite essayist Leslie Jamison on life as a single parent, and a symptomatic one at that, during coronavirus.

An interview with Fran Lebowitz in The New Yorker. This answer particularly tickled me, when asked what she considers an essential service…

Bookstores. I think they’re essential. It’s not as though, unfortunately, bookstores were mobbed with people. They could have them open and just let in two people at a time. On the other hand, I touch every book at a bookstore, so that may not be the best thing.

Listening to:

The High Fidelity playlist on Spotify.

This interview with director Eliza Hittman and her editor / partner Scott Cummings on their film Never Rarely Sometimes Always for IndieWire’s Filmmaker Toolkit.

Cooking:

Mushroom, lentil and red pepper linguine. Kinda bolognese-y, but more vegetable-y.

Homemade pesto pizza topped with mushrooms and asparagus.

Doing:

Watching blooper reels on YouTube. (My go-to procrastination (de)vice). Eating Marmite on everything: toast, crumpets, jacket potatoes. Luxuriating in the sheer pleasantness of being able to read for an hour or so every morning. Browsing the open access archive on Project Muse. Thinking about public spaces, especially libraries, and how nice it will be to linger in them again.

Oh and I also made a little video…

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