Macbeth by Jo Nesbø. You don’t need to have a good handle on the Shakespeare play to enjoy this adaptation set in a 1970s Nordic city beset by drugs and corruption at every level. In fact, knowing the play and its characters gives hints at spoilers that otherwise might come out of the blue. Either way, it’s a page turner. If you’ve read Nesbø before, you know he crafts a tight narrative, and he’s unsentimental about his characters. Don’t read it when you need a nice light snack. Remember, Macbeth is a magnificent tragedy.
Planet Funny: How Comedy Took Over Our Culture by Ken Jennings. A sweeping survey as promised in the subhead, this highly researched book is well-served by the author’s first person inclusion of self in the narrative. He cites academic sources as well as many interviews with comedians, comic writers and so on, but it never feels like an academic treatise, more like a voyage of discovery. It was a fascinating read, made even more enjoyable by the natural inclusion of many humourous “bits” and jokes as illustration along the way. Jennings and I are close age contemporaries and, as I reflected, his observations for the most part seemed very astute to me. I’d be interested to hear how they resonate with people significantly younger or older.
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. This not-memoir novel nevertheless feels like it has been written by someone who lived it or something like it. The story follows the insecure and endearing main character, Franny, as she faces the last six months of her self-imposed deadline to make real progress on her goal to become an actual self-supporting working actress in New York. I only know Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls, and I thought she was in Weeds, but turns out that was a different actor, so there you go – I don’t qualify as a fangirl. I didn’t come into this book with expectations of any sort, and I really very much enjoyed it. I’ll be looking for other books by this author.
On the pod:
Stay Tuned with Preet has been my go-to podcast of late to help stay at least somewhat cognizant of what’s going on in the current gong show of U.S. politics. Preet Bharara is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and he and his equally insider-y guests do an excellent job of tracking the twisty and knotted threads in the crazy quilt being constructed, ripped apart, and patched in new ways seemingly every week across our southern border.