You’ve heard a little bit about what we’ve been reading and watching over the last few weeks here at Gollancz HQ (not whilst IN the office, obviously, we’re far too busy for that…), so I’m sure you’re all chomping at the bit to see how a group of people with such fine and varied tastes are going to be entertaining themselves through the barrage of brussell sprouts and crap telly that awaits. Luckily for you, we’ve done a round up – hurrah!
We’ll be taking a Christmas break (can’t blog – eating) until the new year, so we’ll take this opportunity to say a huge thank you for being part of the Gollancz community, and a very merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all.
This Christmas I have a stack of wonderful things to read for 2013 so I tried to single out something special that wasn’t about work . . . and that something special is The Hunting of the Snark. It’s a beautiful edition from The Folio Society, which is illustrated and entirely marvellous, and I’ve been saving it up for a while in order to indulge myself on the high seas of nonsense!
Also I’m looking forward to watching The Snowman and the Snow Dog. I know I’m going to cry perfectly uncontrollably all the way through – exactly the way I do when I watch The Snowman – but I love the reminder it provides, every year, to value what we have. It’s not presents, it’s not the merrymaking, it’s not religion, Christmas is about being with people we love. Watch it and weep, and then hug all your folks.
An editor’s work is (thankfully) never done so I have a number of manuscripts delivered and lined up on my ereader and I’m also hoping to catch up on some other editors’ favourites over the Christmas break. But I always try to make sure I have a book on the go that is nothing to do with work. And this holiday season one I’m particularly looking forward to is The Winter Book by Tove Jansson. This is a collection of short stories (for adults – whatever that means) by the rightfully acclaimed author of those masterpieces (of children’s literature – whatever that means), the Moomin books. The stories in this collection (I’ve dipped in already) are perfect – beautifully measured and precise yet full of warmth and a dangerously intoxicating disregard for what’s ‘proper’. Whether about a pensioner escaping their old life, or an encounter with a squirrel, or a child and an iceberg, Jansson’s stories cut to the core of the real matter of living. She created the Moomins – what else would you expect?
There will be traditional gathering of family and neighbours around the flickering glow of the Doctor Who Christmas special (Must. Not. Mutter. Bah. Humbug) and there will be films and comedy specials and the whole family love Big Bang Theory so there will be lots of that. But the thing I’m really looking forward to catching up with over Christmas is Madmen Series 5 on DVD. I will brook no opposition to my opinion that this remains superb television. Its attention to detail, its killer lines, the deliriously wonderful interior decor are all part of it. But the real triumph of this programme is its refusal to play safe with the plotting. No turbo-charged storylines here, no easy conclusions, no obvious disasters. Just the steady attrition of weakness or the building power of dedication or enthusiasm. Madmen makes you wait. But shows you a great time can be had from not having. Which if you think about is the antithesis of advertising. Clever.
Happy Christmas all! And here’s to Santa bringing you exactly what you wanted to read and watch. And maybe a few things you didn’t know you loved yet.
I’ll be reading Witch World by Christopher Pike. He’ll be a familiar name to a certain generation of readers who devoured his YA horror thrillers in the early to late 1990s. Witch World is a complex supernatural thriller that, so far, is proving exciting, baffling and a tiny bit bonkers. A class of high school students on a trip to Las Vegas, their various teen relationship angsts and worries along for the ride, leads to one of them discovering an extra special secret about herself and the world around her. The central premise, which I won’t give away here, is actually quite complex and takes a bit of head-scratching to properly grasp. But once that’s out the way, the story kicks up a gear again. I’m around halfway through and just excited to have my favourite YA author back and firing on all cylinders. I loved Pike as a kid and a new book by him is as welcome as an old friend who you wished had never left in the first place.
I’ll be hoping to finish off the BBC series Hunted, starring Melissa George. It felt cruelly neglected by the Beeb, which is a shame because this fast-paced, glossy secret agent show wasn’t any less daft than Spooks. George plays Sam Hunter, an agent with a shady private security firm, trying to discover who left her for dead a year earlier. She’s also deep undercover in the home of a villainous East End businessman who’s closing a particularly lucrative and highly illegal deal. A gloriously twisty script, sombre photography (London looks great in this show) and a terrific performance from George, who handles the emotional stuff as convincingly as the ass kicking she doles out in every episode (the fights are some of the best I’ve seen on a British TV show) all added up to my new favourite series since Alias. Sadly it was cancelled after one season but the character will be resurfacing on a new show very soon (confused? Google it!) In the meantime, I’ll be hoping to unwrap the DVD box set so I can finally see how it all ends and enjoy the sight of Melissa George delivering a smack down to a few men twice her size one more time. We need more tough ladies on TV.
Having had a shiny new copy of The Twelve by Justin Cronin on my desk since it’s release, I thought it high time to get right stuck into The Passage. I’ve made a start and shit is starting to get weird, so I’m looking forward to curling up at my parent’s delightfully heated house and being able to read it without wearing four layers of clothing, gloves, and strapping a hot water bottle to my midriff as I have been doing, and getting properly stuck in. I’ve also been dipping in and out of The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling for a couple of months, but I just keep waiting for Hagrid to appear and it doesn’t seem to be happening for me. And my Tube book of choice (fits in your handbag, possible conversation starter with attractive strangers, doesn’t matter if you lose it because everyone has a copy) right now is Choke by Chuck Palahniuk, which I hope to finish before I go to my parent’s house lest I have to explain what the plot is about (sex addiction, mostly, in case you’re wondering).
As for watching, well I know I have a bit of Community to catch up on, as well as Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock. Like everyone else I will reluctantly watch The Snowman and the Snow Dog as it rips away at my childhood nostalgia, and I have a vested interest in the phenomenon that is Julia Donaldson so I’ll be watching Room on the Broom with intrigue, and avoiding all other Christmas specials – not because I don’t think they will be good (what I wouldn’t give to be a Downton fan) but because I seem to have missed all TV unless it’s a US import or Peep Show, so I don’t want to spoil my ‘to watch’ list by diving in at the deep Christmassy end. I will also be insisting my family watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2 – not because they are the best Christmas films, but because they are the best films full stop.
Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.
Watching – this Xmas I will be watching not much. Time with the in-laws, time with the family, time with the baby. Oh, I’ll watch Doctor Who on Xmas day, of course. And I’m tempted by Room on the Broom, just because the kid enjoys the book (or she pretends to, at least. Perhaps she’s humouring me). But beyond that, not much from the telly, I reckon. I’m hoping to get Game of Thrones on DVD as a pressie – yes, I know I’m terribly terribly far behind on my TV watching – and so perhaps I’ll manage to blast through that while the office is closed. I’ll try and get out before the New Year and watch The Hobbit (3D, 48fps for me, please). I’ll probably not manage it, and will probably complain loudly when I come back to work that I still haven’t seen it. Pity my colleagues.
But one thing I will almost certainly make time to watch is the DVD (or at least the first episode) of The Box of Delights. Do it every year. Don’t often manage the whole series, but I’m one of that annoying generation that sees nostalgia as all, and demands that our formative years were the best. So the theme tune will come on, there’ll be snowy train journeys and strange old men, wolves and surprising animation and talking mice and evil baddies, and I’ll be transported back to my childhood again.
What more can you ask for?