Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is wonderful to read, but very hard to review. The narrator, Rosemary – yes, the name was what originally attracted me to the book, and I’m glad it did – a college student in 1990s California, playfully twists her narrative so readers are never standing on firm ground. She’ll describe a scene then tell us that she omitted a crucial detail, or admit to withholding information. “Language is also the order of words,” her psychologist father says, and the non-linear order in which she arranges the events of her story is as crucial as the events themselves.
In a rare moment of apparent directness near the novel’s beginning, she tells the reader “ten years had passed since I’d last seen my brother, seventeen since my sister disappeared.” The mix of witty cynicism and quiet sadness in Rosemary’s narrative voice, which lovers of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars will appreciate, makes the tricksy narrative beguiling rather than frustrating. However, it conceals the crucial information about the nature of her family and why her siblings disappeared, whose eventual uncovering changes the book so fundamentally that it makes in-depth discussion of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves hard to do without spoilers. But I will avoid revealing the delightfully unexpected twist, to allow readers to experience it as a complete surprise.
No, no WordPress. You are lying. That last post does not look good. It is full of horribly ugly typesetting errors that make it barely readable, and you know it.
I’m sorry. I tried WordPress’ ‘new’ blog writing template, and does anyone else find that every time they press a key, there’s an awkward pause before the letter appears? I know, I know, I live in a time of technology that allows me to access the any information I need share my thoughts and ideas with anyone else in the world who’s interested in them instantly, but I’m complaining that it makes me pause slightly. But it really is frustrating to watch your words appear in slow motion. To make matters worse, when I pressed the backspace key, it deleted several words instead of a single letter, and I couldn’t stop it, so I had to watch some invisible backwards force slowly devour sentences I’d slaved over, like a Doctor Who monster.
In the end, I gave up and started writing the post in Word for the pleasure of being able to type freely, and then copy-and-pasting it – with the disadvantage that the copy-and-pasted bits are the ones in noticeable smaller font, so the whole page is really awkward to read.
Ironically, one of the many things that last post was about was how annoying it was when my ex-housemate claimed she was sorry for trying to make the other housemates and I pay her share of the rent, but didn’t do anything to face up to her responsibilities. So I will accompany this apology with an effort to make it better, and I’ve gone back to the old blogging template for this post. It works much better – I can type easily and you get consistent font size. I don’t know why WordPress introduced a new template that’s much more difficult to use than the old, though.
UPDATED: Apparently the new set-up doesn’t let you publish your post on Facebook, either.
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Spoiler warning, if that’s the right word: this post gives away the ending of some of York magician Craig Stephenson‘s tricks.
One of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s most well-known films, All About My Mother
is an offbeat melodrama with a huge heart. It tells the story of Manuela (Cecilia Roth), a nurse and single mother of sweet-natured Esteban (Eloy Azorin). Mother and son live contended lives of mutual devotion, watching old films together and discussing Esteban’s dreams of being a writer, until his seventeenth birthday. On a trip to the theatre to see A Streetcar Named Desire
, Esteban runs to approach the lead actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes) for her autograph and is run over and killed.
In their final, poignant conversation before he died, Manuela promised to finally tell Esteban “all about your father.” But the film soon makes it clear that women will take centre page, and the film will, as its title suggests, be a tribute to mothers everywhere. Indeed, when a grief-stricken Manuela goes to Barcelona to try to break the news to Esteban’s father, it soon emerges that she’s a trans sex worker, Lola. She proves hard to track down, but Manuela soon meets a host of different characters in Barcelona, including her old friend and Lola’s colleague Agrado (Antonia San Juan), Huma, whose production of A Streetcar Named Desire has moved to Barcelona and who is in a destructive relationship with her heroin-addicted co-star Nina (Candela Peña), and Rosa (Penelope Cruz), a sweet-natured nun with problems of her own. Each of these women represents the different roles and identities women can assume in society – including the identity of gender itself – and how a whole life can go into that role. But each of them is also a complex, unique personality, and together, they begin to help each other with their problems, and to help Manuela heal.
An eighteen-year-old boy falls in love with a nearly eighty-year-old woman. It sounds like a particularly shock-courting premise for a dire gross-out comedy, but the triumph of classic independent film Harold and Maude is that, while embracing the oddness of such an unlikely relationship, it manages to make it convincing and tender.