What I read in May…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

goldfinchI was unsure about this one. At 773 pages it would the biggest book I’d read in quite a while, and I’d heard it bigged up as a literary masterpiece. Could I fit that into my schedule and give it enough time for it to have a proper chance? Then I spontaneously borrowed the audiobook from the library, listened to it on my commute (around 55 minutes each way in the car) and quickly became addicted.

It follows Theo Decker whose mother dies when he is 13 in a traumatic terrorist attack in a New York museum from which he escapes with a famous and valuable piece of art. What follows next is a winding road over 13 years from the high society of New York, the desolate and empty new-build streets of Las Vegas where Theo first becomes caught up with alcohol and drugs, back to New York for a lesson in antique furniture dealing, and then onto snowy Amsterdam at Christmas. During all this time the painting is at the forefront of Theo’s mind and the whole is just wonderfully constructed.

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Master of None – Aziz Ansari’s thoughtful showpiece

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Aziz Ansari performing in London in November 2014

Aziz Ansari is best known for the charismatic, well-dressed, hyperactive Tom Haverford in the wonderful Parks and Recreation. His stand-up is also well worth checking out, and new Netflix series Master of None, with acting, directing, producing and creator credits for Ansari, completes the trifecta of his personal brand.

Each Ansari character is basically a hyper-version of his stand-up self. His bug eyes often pop with excitement, he chatters often non-stop and he likes to get a bit silly.

But the beauty of Master of None is that while it finds time for its star’s trademark silliness, it also tackles some serious topics with real thoughtfulness in a fashion rarely seen in most half-hour TV comedies.

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