THE CASUAL VACANCY by J.K. Rowling
Drug addiction, sex, rape, power, corruption and lies. This ‘adult’ novel seems a long way from the world of Hogwarts.
On the surface Pagford is a safe and sedate town; a place where buses “trundle” and where the delicatessen is “run with the ritual and regularity of a temple”.
However, beneath this veneer of respectability lies a festering, dog eat dog world of spiteful social climbers. Rowling revels in her mockery of the airs and graces, petty rivalries and back-stabbing. At the same time she shows a compassion for underdogs and contempt for bullies and braggarts.
As a biting satire of middle class aspirations it is often reminiscent of Mike Leigh’s 1977 stage play ‘Abigail’s Party‘.
This fictional West Country town symbolises a Daily Mail culture of smug NIMBY conservatism. Its self-centred “moral radiance” contrasts with the nearby town of Yarvil where the children are portrayed as “sinister, hooded, spray-painting offspring”. Continue reading
TRANSAMERICA directed by Duncan Tucker (USA, 2005)
This is the only film I’ve seen of a woman pretending to be a man who wants to be a woman.
Transamerica is an issue movie but aims at subtle persuasion rather than tubthumping polemic.
You would imagine a film about a transsexual to be more about sex but it makes the valid point that switching gender is as much about identity as getting laid.
Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman is quite superb in the part of Stanley / Sabrina (Bree). She oozes femininity yet looks genuinely mannish and uncomfortable in her skin.
It’s easy to imagine someone undertaking a sex change would be brash and sexually forthright but Bree is actually quite straight-laced and prim. There’s a hint of romance with a chivalrous Mexican man but the raunchiest scenes are reserved for the son (s)he didn’t know existed. Continue reading
Becoming a parent changes you and your relationship with your partner. True as this is, banal statements of this kind say little about what fathering is like and do nothing to prepare you for the riot of emotions that go with the job.
NYC-based photographer Phillip Toledano‘s The Reluctant Father goes a long way to addressing the reality in humourous and ultimately touching way..
He likens confronting the fruit of his loins to a series of close encounters with an alien being.
His experience was all the more traumatic because, as he freely admits, “I was never particularly interested in having kids”. It was just something that happened. Continue reading