I felt like writing another book related post, but as yet I am two weeks behind schedule already and haven’t finished any books at all. I am, however, halfway through two books, so I thought I’d write very briefly about those (full reviews will come later).
The book I am closer to being finished with is Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey. Richard Ayoade is probably most well known for his work on British comedies such as The IT Crowd, Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh, but as well as being an actor and comedian on these and various panel shows he has also directed two critically acclaimed films, Submarine (2010) and The Double (2013), and now he can add author to his growing list of job titles.
At first it can be easy to fear he has gone and written a memoir too soon in his career, but upon further inspection it becomes very clear very quickly that this is a spoof of all those director on director autobiographical books out there. About a third of the book is author-him interviewing a fake director-him, with his director persona being very exaggerated in his arrogance, surrealism and eccentricity. But within these interviews is footnotes that often link to the enormous appendix that takes up another third of the book – filled up with various essays, scripts, conversations and other silly writings. All of it is quite obscure and it does feel like there is a lot of in-jokes, but if you like Ayoade’s humour and if you’re a fan of film in general you might find it very funny. For me personally, I have not laughed this hard at a book for a long time.
The other book I have been reading is The Unexpected Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. I’m only about a third of the way through it, but I already love Harold even if I do feel sorry for him. Living in the south of England, he seems to be caught in a loveless marriage, with an estranged son, when he gets a letter informing him that an old acquaintance of his is dying in a hospital up north. Struggling with emotions as he always has, he writes a quick reply and goes to mail it. But as it’s a nice day, he keeps going to post it in the next box, and so on, until unexpectedly he decides to just keep walking all the way up England to visit this person. You’d think a book about walking would be dull, but much as we tend to think a lot and reminisce on life while walking (well, I do anyway) so does Harold. It is these ponderings which make the book so special, that bring the characters to life and keep the story surprisingly interesting.
I’m really enjoying both books at the moment, but for wildly different reasons. Joyce’s book is great to read for long periods, ploughing through a few chapters at a time, whereas I feel that Ayoade’s sharp and surreal humour is best enjoyed in short bursts (as continuity is not so important with that book either). I have a bunch of books borrowed out from the library as well so I may begin reading these soon too, so don’t be surprised if these two books are not the first two book reviews I post up, but they will come.
What are you reading right now?
Would you or have you read either of these two books? What are your thoughts on them?