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Showing posts from February, 2019

Recent Reading Roundup 49

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This long-simmering roundup covers some of my final reads of 2018 and the first ones of 2019.  Some of them have already turned up in my year's best list in December, but they definitely deserve a longer consideration.  In general, this is a strong list of books, even if it does remind me that with all the great books coming down the pike this year, there are so many 2018 books I still haven't gotten around to reading.
Transcription by Kate Atkinson - This was the third novel I read in 2018 with the general theme of "little-known aspects of WWII and how they utilized the work and abilities of women", following Jennifer Egan's Manhattan Beach and Michael Ondaatje's Warlight.  I wasn't crazy about either of those novels, so going back for a third helping in Transcription could be seen as refusing to learn from my mistakes, but happily Atkinson's take on this concept worked a lot better for me.  Like Ondaatje, her focus is on murky wartime espionage, but …

It's Easy to Be a Saint in Paradise: Thoughts on The Good Place's Third Season

The Good Place is the best show on television. I don't even see how there could be a debate at this stage. No other show combines such lofty ambitions with such graceful execution, such weighty themes with such a total lack of self-seriousness. It succeeds on every one of the many levels it operates on—as an uproariously funny comedy, as a touching relationship drama, as a thought-provoking philosophical treatise on goodness and self-improvement, and as a gonzo feat of fantastic worldbuilding.

It's also a show that—with its typical earnestness—pokes holes in all the hallowed truisms about what a prestigious, "serious" TV show is supposed to look like. Game of Thrones has got everyone convinced that character death is the only way to achieve meaningful drama? On The Good Place, everyone is already dead, and the only serious threat to the characters' wellbeing—that of being tortured for eternity—is so over the top and inconsistent with the show's comedic tone t…