Monday, September 21, 2009

Robin Hood and stuff vol 9 x 2 (How It Was Lost)

Plenty of people were telling me Robin Hood had jumped the shark in episodes 9 and 10. I didn’t really agree, but I did notice that there didn’t seem to be the fanfare associated with the program originally, which I attributed to viewer figures falling off. The show was cancelled due to its lack of audience and its cost to produce, but even though it ended up killing almost all of its original characters, it might have come back. Would it have been worth watching? I don’t know, but I expect not.

Timothy Praeger had the unenviable task of introducing us to Archer, Guy and Robin’s half-brother, who I quickly realized as the episode wore on, was being touted as the next Robin. This annoyed me because it invalidated my theory (which is still a cool theory) but also because I disliked Archer from the moment he was introduced (even if physically he did manage to look like he shared genes with Jonas Armstrong and Richard Armitage!). Sent on a mystical mission by Robin and Archer’s father, Guy and Robin quickly remind the audience of what happened last episode and prepare them for fights and exposition. Despite their common goal the two end up fighting as usual, observed by a passing Allan (who, if I read my notes rightly, spends his free time gathering wood). “You killed my wife and you expect me to forgive you!” “I loved her as you loved her,” says Guy. “I cannot forgive myself.”

Once Allan has brought all the outlaws down upon them, Robin quickly has to explain that Gisborne is on their side. “He killed my brother!” an incensed Kate screams. When Robin explains that they share a brother, Kate rages, “Who’ll bring my brother back to me?” Still united by their goal to “destroy Isabella,” the outlaws reluctantly agree—“he’s pure evil”—to let Robin and Guy go to York to get Archer. (Personally if I went to York I’d get a nice cup of tea but that’s just me.) Robin rides a black horse and Guy a white; I thought this was symbolism at the time but now I think it’s laziness.

In York Archer (who has a manky rat’s tail) is in prison but enjoys freebies outside his cell with Tracy-Ann Oberman. This mildly amusing side-plot establishes quickly that Archer is a con-man with compassion for his fellow prisoners who enjoys alchemy and adultery on the side. Isabella is meanwhile fuming. Heavy is the head that wears the crown (or holds the keys to Nottingham). “Do you think they’re plotting against me? . . . I want them alive.” John takes the moral high ground as is his wont; Allan tries to convince him not to leave the group. “There are many roads to the same place, John.”

The banter between Guy and Robin in York is rather amusing, and I enjoyed the fact that Robin caused Guy to be arrested and thrown into the dungeon so he could find Archer. Archer, despite the fact that he believes “there’s no honor in being poor,” still tries to get all his cell mates out when he, Guy, and Robin have a jail break. I’ve written “let’s grope Gisborne” which I think must have to do with being arrested, as he later says when his life is threatened, “Put me out of my misery.” There’s some passable fighting as the three half-brothers put off the forces of York. Robin tells Archer about Isabella, his half-sister: “she’s rich, she’s powerful.” This causes Archer to help them get out of the tight squeeze, but he “has his own plans.” Undeterred, Robin and Guy get back to Sherwood, and Guy wants to know, “where do you want me to sleep then?” I can tell you where to sleep—no, you see, my salacious comments just aren’t fun anymore. Hmm.

“Something Worth Fighting For” parts one and two by Simon J Ashford started, like the last three stories, with some promise. Everyone’s uppity because Richard returns within the month. “England will never be a slave to King Richard,” is declared, then a good fight is had. I’ve written a huge FAILURE but I can’t remember why or whom. Archer makes his way to Isabella’s side, declaring “Robin Hood’s a nut.” Isabella’s costume has slowly gone from the passable historical to the outlandish (à la Marian)—here it’s a skirt with red ruffles. She is obsessed with Robin, and I think absolute power coupled with a desire for revenge has turned her into a villain. Whether or not it’s a valid transformation is difficult to say. “He still loves me,” she says angrily. And to whom does she say it? Kate’s mother of all people. Her machinations have reached new lows when she forces Kate’s mother to plant a locket on Robin to make Kate believe he’s still having dealings with Isabella. As I wrote at the time, “This is the dumbest, most circulocutious plot ever.”

Kate’s mother takes the bait, Kate takes the bait. To further divide the outlaws, Isabella issues Allan with a pardon, so the dunderheads immediately think he’s done something spy-like to warrant it. “I haven’t done anything!” I find it strange and significant that Allan adds, “You believe me, Guy?” And Guy is noncommittal! The group shuns him, even as he rejects his earlier complicity. “Every day I wish I could take that back.”

Isabella and Archer’s dealings seem rather incestuous, which is not a nice image. Isabella is annoyed to work with, much less be related to, “some nasty little hustler like you.” Robin is captured, and with only a few men, the outlaws stand little chance of breaching Nottingham’s gates to get him back. Tuck’s advice is novel—a sit-in, of sorts—with Rohan’s decrepit army defending Helm’s Deep at his side. “We are going to turn the other cheek.” Tuck encourages the first archer to “be a man, start [the killing] with me.” Eventually it descends into chaos as Isabella is abandoned by her captain-at-arms. “Goodbye, Sheriff, and good luck.” There’s a surprisingly satisfying bitch fight between Isabella and Kate, interrupted only by the corpse of Allan—who’d previously been seen looking up at someone going, “you!”—and the return of Vasey the Sheriff of Nottingham!

As cliffhangers go, it’s rather inferior to the last two. We knew he wasn’t dead even if Guy and everyone else thought he’d been killed, and though he’s brought a huge army to crush everyone, the shock value isn’t what it should be. In part two, everyone is a bit baffled: “that ghost has raised an army!” “I want my town back,” says the Sheriff. “Your weapons are no match for these men’s hatred of you.” The show has always been obsessed with gunpowder and anachronistic super-weapons like Greek Fire previously, and now the alchemical Archer must pit his knowledge of “Byzantine Fire” against the Sheriff’s supply of it. Archer is the one, in fact, who sold the Byzantine Fire to the Sheriff. “We have to take the trebuchets” (in order to prevent spectacular explosions).

“Why didn’t you give me up to him?” asks the newly-noble (or simply world-weary) Guy to Robin. “I’m with you,” he announces. For Marian’s sake he almost had been in the Helm’s Deep episode from season 2. With Isabella tucked safely into the dungeons, Guy goes to her to offer her honorable death: poison. “This is your idea of mercy?!” Even from where I’m standing, this seems a bit lame and not a little dangerous. “For our mother’s sake,” he says. “There’s precious little left of goodness in either of us.”

Kate attempts a dangerous run to get word to King Richard for reinforcements, but the Sheriff introduces the historically sound but unfortunate fact that “he was captured by Leopold of Austria.” Robin points out that the Sheriff is unlikely to kill everyone. “Who’s going to pay tax if they’re all dead?” Vasey asks (he seems to have lost all sense of humor when he “died”). “I’m bored with that game.” Meanwhile Isabella has escaped and is running through tunnels. She’s all for creating traps and letting the Sheriff in. Guy, stupidly, pursues. “I set up this little trap . . .” In a stand-off with Vasey, Isabella, and her captain-at-arms versus Robin, Guy, and Archer, the Sheriff notes that it’s better that the battle is decided this way; “the important few.” I will say this: the choreography here is well-handled and quite good.

I knew Robin Hood was going to die from the start of this episode. It wasn’t until this scene that I knew Guy was going to die. This made me very disappointed, and although the manner of his death was better than it could have been two seasons ago, it still seemed a bit of an anti-climax to his revolution toward good. It’s perhaps fitting that in the end Isabella got to strike the killing blow. She also (very Hamlet-like) got to graze Robin with a poison-tipped blade (courtesy of Guy, however unwittingly this time) and announced, “You’ll be dead before sundown.” She and her cronies initiated a retreat, but not before Guy could die in Robin’s arms. “This is the end . . . Marian, the love of my life . . .” As per usual, RA milks the drama for all it’s worth. I’m not going to lie and say this didn’t vex me exceedingly.

Even Isabella felt a bit of remorse that she’d had a hand in killing her own brother; “this is no time for sentiment” announces the Sheriff. However, by this time, Tuck had discovered the secret to Byzantine Fire. A very easy and morally grey way of killing off ALL the villains: blow them up! Which was exactly the puzzling and unlooked-for conclusion. However, it’s time for angels to sing the sweet prince to his rest: “it’s time to say goodbye.” Again I’ll confess I wasn’t dry-eyed as Much, John, Tuck, Archer, and Kate bid their friend and leader goodbye. “We have cheated death so many times,” says Robin to poor Much (one of two original characters who DON’T die). “This isn’t fair,” cries Kate, and she certainly has a point. Robin is both visionary and quite serene at the end: “the greatest adventure is yet to come.” Tuck rallies the survivors into planning for a future without a man called Robin Hood, but the organization can still bear his name. If it wasn’t cancelled, however.

There were some sophisticated ideas this season, and if the freshness and zest of the first series could have been combined with some of the darker, larger issues raised in this one, perhaps we would have had a cohesive whole. Did the characters really “jump the shark” or were the constant switching sides merely a reflection of real life? To be sure I’d have to watch the series again. John and Tuck had some strong episodes before they faded into the background; Kate, while not always the most nuanced of characters, was at least consistent and bright. I feel quite sorry for Allan; his character growth had stagnated by the end of last series (why they didn’t send him off like Will and Djaq I don’t know) so they just waited for the opportune moment to kill him off! Much remained the backbone of the program but, again, did not develop to a significant degree.

Robin I found a little less insufferable this season (and clearly superior to this Archer character). Isabella I found quite intriguing at times and wished there’d been a bit more cohesion to her character, especially in developing her relationship with PJ (and where did PJ go anyway?). Vasey was missed when he wasn’t around, yet perhaps the evil camp Sheriff act was getting old too. Looking at it dispassionately, Guy’s character was at its most interesting in “A Dangerous Deal,” when he had a new character to react against and the possibilities for him to rediscover the “good” aspects of his nature were most fecund. After he “turned good,” I have to admit he was relegated to the sidelines a bit and became almost boring. I should have seen his death coming much earlier than he did, because like Allan he was becoming a puppet for “yes, Robin,” “no, Robin.” He seemed to have lost his bite when he made his peace with the outlaws. I’m not suggesting that he couldn’t have been interesting if he’d been good; as I said, I’m happy to rewrite the end of series 3 so that Archer and Robin die heroically and Guy is the next Robin. You’re probably tired of me harping on that theme, though.

Series three was a mixed bag. I was certainly depressed after it was over that it would be no more, even as I criticized the last few episodes. C’est la vie.

The films

My sister persuaded me to see this finally. I’m as fond of vampires as the next person (we taught a lot of vampire stories in Gothic Horror) but I’d been avoiding this teen phenomenon, which is ironic since my sister does not like anything fantastical but claims to like Twilight because it has a basis in a “real place.” It exceeded my expectations, but I still find the fact the vampires “sparkle” to be ridiculous. It shares a lot of themes with Being Human. Edward is written to be absolutely irresistible to girls of a certain age. Here is my rather snarky haiku:
Twilit twits moan, angst-
pale across silver forests.
Enough already.

Star Trek
I finally saw Star Trek. I never watched much of the original series, but I kept up pretty well during my youth with all subsequent visions (up through Enterprise, in fact). As Johanna said, it was worth seeing for Zachary Quinto alone, but . . . I’m not sure. It was entertaining, but when all was said and done, rather slight. I know you could accuse several of the Star Trek movies of that. To be sure, it looked good. The pseudo-‘60s look was nice. There were amusing moments. I think they went a little overboard in that department, though! I got very confused as to canon and wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to take it as an alternative universe or not. As far as villains go, and many of them in Star Trek as of late have been bad, Nero was cardboard. Oh well.

is Mihyzaki’s latest film and though I haven’t seen the majority of his oeuvre, I do own Princess Mononoke. This was trippy but sweet. Ponyo is a goldfish-princess-mermaid and Soske is the extremely bright five-year-old who causes her to become a girl. My favorite part was when the sea turned Devonian and was full of coelacanths and trilobites, but it was also a source of terror for me as I didn’t want a mosasaur to come out of the water and eat the kids!

I saw Watchmen on the plane ride back. It was very faithful to the comic. Too faithful, perhaps, as it seemed to lack a certain directorial boldness, reproducing scene-for-scene some of the panels and scenes from the book (which, perhaps, is how Alan Moore likes it?). I was annoyed by the rather too-obvious soundtrack. The special effects were able to achieve Dave Gibbons’ art, which is rather a feat, and I liked the casting of Patrick Wilson as Dan/Nightowl. I will say it was about 20 times better than Sin City!

The Gunfighters

I loved, loved, loved The Gunfighters. If the novelization is this much fun, I have to hope the TV story isn’t beyond all hope. It is an odd Doctor Who in that it’s a comedy and completely silly—Steven and Dodo are bordello pianist and singer respectively, and the Doctor stumbles around the bloodthirsty Old West inadvertedly getting into trouble and giggling, no doubt. What must work in the novelization’s favor, of course, is that the voice is just right and you don’t have to contend with (what I’m told are) wobbly American accents. Donald Cotton is pulling a tour de force with voice in this; if I ever teach creative writing I will use The Gunfighters to show my students how consummately it can be done. It is funny and utterly convincing, if you need to be convinced of a mad, half-serious alternative universe version of the Wild West as seen through the filter of old films.

As Jamie pointed out to me, the frame story which adds just a bit more credulity to this tale (as if that was required!) of a journalist meeting Doc Holliday dying in a Wild West old folks’ home and hearing from him the real events at the OK Corral is a great device. This gives us my favorite part of the book:
'So I take it, Mr Buntline, that at your tender age you may not have heard of time travel . . . or even, so help me, of the TARDIS? Well, like I say, it ain't that easy to understand: but the TARDIS, if you'll kindly believe me, was--and is, for all I know--a kind of four-wheel buggy designed for ridin' every sort of direction through eternity, without much decent respect for the laws of physics. And this other Doctor feller I was tellin' you about, he drives it back an' forth through the star-spangled centuries, like it was a rodeo-bull got loose in Jackson's Hardware Store! It's a fact! Never seems to know quite where he'll land up next! And back in 1881, by golly, it was Tombstone, Arizona--where the poor old buzzard got hisself taken for me!'

What really sets the tone and shows you just what kind of nuttiness you’re in for is the fact the Doctor demands to land the TARDIS because he needs a dentist. Surely, surely at his age and his Gallifreyan superiority he could fix his own teeth?! Or what has he been eating that caused such bad tooth decay?! I’m giving this way too much thought, aren’t I? Doc Holliday, his lady friend Kate, Wyatt Earp (and his brothers), and Clanton Brothers, Johnny Ringo, and other “vernacular” characters cause riotous laughter—the cast of Firefly might, just might, be at home in this particular universe!

I also like that Kate likes the cut of Steven’s jib (as do I!), that Dodo is mistaken for Steven’s “bespoken,” that Cotton manages to explain any plot holes with the wonderful voice that deprecates itself and plants itself firmly on the reader’s side, and the fact the Doctor goes around accidentally shooting people with a shot gun (think of the assured Fifth Doctor who later points so many guns! Clearly he learned from this experience it pays to have some savoir-faire with weapons even if he doesn’t want to use them).

My copy of The Gunfighters was owned by Rhys Wyn Hughes of Bangor, and I really wish I could get in touch with him as I suspect he owned this book as a teenager (in the back he’s ticked off all the Target novels he’s read). The only drawback I can think of for The Gunfighters is that the book smells like mold.


I’ve hefted this mighty tome on buses and planes and finally finished reading it. Steven, who’s TTZ’s resident comics expert, believes that creativity on the DWM comic strip has declined since the new series, and while I don’t really have the knowledge to comment, I can say the current strip is a lot less grand than during the Eighth Doctor years. Endgame is the first volume of Eighth Doctor comics (thank you, Jamie!). It introduces Izzy, whose haircut I apparently now have, one of the comics’ most beloved companions.

Alan Barnes and Scott Gray are responsible for all the writing and Martin Geraghty for nearly all the art. That means there’s a great deal of cohesion on one hand, and a lot of sameness on the other. Certainly Geraghty proves his mettle as a very good draftsman with a keen sense of chiaroscuro. I do have to save a bit of warmth for when Sean Longcroft and Adrian Salmon contribute some art toward the end on shorter strips, even if by virtue of their being shorter their stories don’t seem to hold much water.

There are some fabulous full page spreads that elicited gasps from me, even on the plane as I was reading, including a giant reveal of the Celestial Toymaker in the title story. There are clever conceits in this story (it introduces Izzy and takes place, more or less, in Max Edison’s Stockbridge) and fabulous, scary images of the Doctor fighting a clockwork/playing card version of himself. In “The Keep,” the next story, the images of the 51st century are a bit different than the ones Captain Jack inspires (Izzy thinks so too). Like “Endgame”’s reintroduction of an old villain, “The Keep” alludes to “Talons of Weng-Chiang.” Izzy’s obsession with sci fi embarrasses the Doctor but no doubt strikes a familiar chord with us. I’m also tickled by the fact she wants to “chunder” at hearing Milton’s verses!

In “Fire and Brimstone,” there’s another impressive reveal of a Dalek. I love that the font the Daleks talk in is different than the rest of the lettering (actually I have it in Word now—Steven gave it to me). My favorite story is probably “Tooth and Claw” (ironic since I dislike the Tennant story by that name). It’s a bit camp and turns up the classic Gothic horror meter really high, with spies, the island of Dr. Moreau, vampires, and the occult all thrown in. It also introduces erstwhile companion Fey, who might like to get jiggy with Izzy if they ever had the chance. Captain Jack would have a field day with Fey.

Along with Max they’ve also brought back the Doctor’s ally Shayde, and there’s a fun twist on him (?) by the end of the book. “Wormwood” makes you believe the Doctor’s regenerated into Nick Briggs (Izzy’s reaction to the new Doctor anticipates Rose’s frustration in “The Christmas Invasion”). Interestingly the Briggs Doctor is wearing roughly what Matt Smith’s Doctor is wearing!! At least the Briggs Doctor has good taste in tea. Now, I have never pretended that the huge Eighth Doctor story arcs don’t sometimes bore me, and Endgame is no exception—though at least there are the huge, squee-ful panels of handsome Paul McGann. I thought “By Hook or By Crook” was going to resemble my story “Shaving is a Tedious Thing,” (er, not to be confused with something Jamie wrote by the same title) but it didn’t after all. Oh well—all great minds can’t think alike!

Definitely the best way to spend a long flight!
I also borrowed Star Trek: The Manga Ultimate Edition from the library, as it seemed an appropriate choice. The art is in all cases exceptionally good. “Side Effects” as drawn by Makoto Nakatsuka, “Forging Alliances” as drawn by Steven Cummings, and “Til Death” as drawn by Jeong Mo Yang look particularly manga-style to me, while the others have a more fluid style. While among these stories is one written by Wil Wheaton, I think my favorite is “Bandi,” by David Gerrold, which is so silly, it even makes fun of Tribbles, and is drawn like a pulp comic by Don Hudson. It has a tongue-in-cheek ending that reminds one that the birth of slash fiction came in order to distinguish fan fiction friendship pieces about Kirk-Spock from slash ones (ie Kirk/Spock). That’s not something I really want to contemplate but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Most of the comics are very funny, usually when Spock and McCoy are bandying quips about (particularly in “The Humanitarian” by Luis Reyes). I’m not a huge fan of TOS so the somewhat bland morality, even as modernized by the writers to the best of their abilities, left me a bit cold. I liked that in “Communications Breakdown,” by Christine Boylan and Bettina Kurkoski, Uhura got something to do other than say “Yes, Captain,” and I could tell the female writer and artist were taking a stab at making her a three-dimensional character.

What I really want to get my hands on is their TNG manga collection!

Too Many Mothers

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a charming yet hard-hitting, playful memoir about growing up on a Spokane Indian Reservation. I saw Alexie speak when he was promoting the book, and I have my sister to thank for this recommendation. I’ll save my review proper for later, for reasons which will become clear.

The last book I finished on the trip was, you guessed it, another memoir, this time by Roberta Taylor called Too Many Mothers. I must say originally I felt obliged to read it as Jamie bought it for me from the used book shop in Cardiff market (seeing as how he knew Roberta Taylor from The Bill, read and recommended the book, and I’d enjoyed her performance in Cuddlesome with Peter Davison). However, I quickly became engrossed in the book and was distraught when I thought I’d left it on the plane after coming in to Albuquerque. However, I found it and finished it on the way back!

It’s a very interesting memoir in that a lot of it coincides with those of John Barrowman and Dawn French (no, really!) in terms of familial relations. It’s subtitled “An East End Childhood,” and is a sophisticated and unsentimental look at a clan of poverty-stricken Londoners, many with wicked tendencies (Dawn French’s grandmother is almost the double of Roberta Taylor’s). In some ways it reminds me of Sister Carrie. Like John Barrowman’s book, it takes a non-chonological approach to telling a story, though it’s less the story of Roberta Taylor, actress and however else she may describe herself, it’s almost fictionalized family history. That’s my favorite kind. I loved how Taylor made me see parallels in my own family; I, too, was raised mostly by women. I can’t claim we have the same skeletons in our cupboards, drama, petty larceny, and cruelty (as far as I know!!), but when you can follow your family back to the early 20th century, as I can with my grandparents, you begin to see parallels.

What I really liked about the book was the structure and Taylor’s ability to go into any “character” (her relatives become characters) and tell their story, not from their POV (she’s still granddaughter Rob), but in a way that makes them sympathetic even if they are, like her grandmother, rather vicious. The book begins with Boxing Day 1956, a narrative that continues throughout, and forms rather an effective homing beacon that the reader knows will always find him or her. Taylor uses this as the jumping off point to take us from the youth of her grandmother Mary, from a truly “low” class of East Enders, who marries Bob, a sailor who when he finally returns from duty, keeps making her pop out kids. Then he turns to drinking and domestic violence. With this in mind you can empathize with Mary’s sourness in later life and her ill-fated love of fine linen.

Mary’s eldest daughter Flo strikes a bit of a chord with me. Dropped on her head as a baby, she has developmental problems throughout her life that of course go undiagnosed and make her a source of mockery. She’s the “dozy cow with her funny turns.” My eldest aunt, while she wasn’t hurt like that (as far as I know!!) has gotten the same kind of rap. In Taylor’s family, there were three other girls of a similar age (kind-hearted Doll, hard-as-nails Viv, Rob’s mother Win) before two of Mary’s surprise pregnancies. The family is a large and diverse one, especially when Viv marries a Lascar (then his brother, then a family friend . . . ). Win’s story is poignant as for a very long time Rob doesn’t know her own parentage.

I really can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. It got funnier toward the end as the inverse proportion of bleakness receded!

Living to Tell the Tale

Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel García Márquez jumped out at me on the shelf at the library (behind it was Dalek I Loved You, which I had to return before I could actually read it). I’ve had sort of a love/hate relationship with Márquez because I really didn’t get One Hundred Years of Solitude and much preferred Love in the Time of Cholera. I’ve since adapted to his style a bit, but I have to say the memoir was a tour-de-force. Oh, I suppose it petered out a bit toward the end, and I was somewhat disappointed Márquez’s later life was either ignored altogether or glossed over. However, the first few chapters are amazing. Márquez is at his best weaving rambling and mysterious (he’s the godfather of Magical Realism, after all) stories of his childhood all over Colombia.

I found it very interesting indeed that Márquez found so much inspiration for his works from his life, past, family history, etc. In fact the central story from Love in the Time of Cholera is his parents’: “when I was past fifty [I] decided at last to use their story in Love in the Time of Cholera,” including his father’s telegraph office hammock, next to it a “bachelor’s cot with well-oiled springs.” I don’t know why, but this makes me hopeful, somehow, as a writer: ie, while I may not at present possess the finesse to incorporate my life into memoir like this, that will immediately get picked up by creative nonfiction journals, at least I can save it up and use it in fiction. Which is exactly what I did with The Gathering Dust, which is the play about my grandparents. But we’ll come back to that.

Okay, I’ll admit that Colombia has taken quite the center stage in my life at the moment, due to my boyfriend and various projects, etc. I hope he’ll take it as a compliment that at points I found Márquez’s style and subject matter so similar that I got confused to whose account I was reading: Gabriel García Márquez, 82-year-old Nobel Prize winner, or Jamie George Beckwith, Cockney Colombian diarist. Of course, as always when I read a work in translation, I wonder what it would be like to read the original—though I think I have read all Edith Grossman translations of Márquez. The beginning of the book, as it rambles around Márquez’s youth, superstition and family history, lore and legend, opens in a manner that grabs you in immediately. Márquez’s voice is a familiar one, but quietly omniscient.

I was also fascinated by the portrait of Márquez’s schoolboy days and amazed to find many of Florentino’s romps in LitToC to be based on real experience! “The reality is that I did not understand why I had to sacrifice my talents and time on courses that did not move me and therefore would be of no use to me in a life that was not mine”—his youthful arrogance and the things he got away with because of his natural talent made me tsk tsk! However, this is all turned on its head when, in order to save his numerous family from destitution, he has to get a job in order to send money home. This is when, you feel, that he’s finally grown up. And for me, that’s actually the end of the book. The rest is disappointingly sparse if you are looking into insights as to how a famous writer writes, or what he made of his fame, though the stints on various newspapers were entertaining and interesting.

Probably the funniest part is that after I read this book I had a dream I met Márquez and he wanted me to be his mistress!