Other folk’s flowers
This category collects all my Reviews. Nowadays these are mostly book reviews, but there are also reviews of films and performances, exhibitions, events and other things. It’s also the category where I include entries from my reading diary.
Perhaps a word about the title? It references AP Wavell’s Other Men’s Flowers, an anthology of British poetry. This collection of “poems I could repeat entire or in great part”, as Wavell puts it in his introduction, was published in 1944. Wavell was aka Field Marshal Earl Wavell. Not very surprisingly, Other Men’s Flowers contains by my count 112 poets of which 6 or 7 are women. I’ve always liked the title (it comes from Montaigne), but I do hope my reviewing covers a rather more eclectic range of creatives – of various genders.
Moving on to the sub-categories, the first reviews on the website were of films, performances and exhibitions. Book reviews and the Reading Diary came later.
In the Film sub-category I collect all my reviews of films, from the first (my notes towards a film review of Derek and my somewhat dismissive review of Revolutionary Road) to my most recent.
Quite a lot of the film reviews cluster around February because that’s when the annual Gothenburg (International) Film Festival takes place. I try to see at least a few films there every year, and some years I have splurged.
To the right (or above) the illustration shows photos from my 2018 GIFF splurge. Clockwise from top right: The film festival logo outside the Draken cinema at night; Consulting the catalogue; Draken’s neon sign; A necklace of tickets.
Under the Performance heading you’ll find my reviews of live performances – theatre, dance, music and so on. There aren’t so many posts here, but the first is my review of the brilliant Helen Mirren in the NT Live production of Phaedre. This was the National Theatre’s first streamed broadcast and it wowed me.
Again, there aren’t so very many exhibition reviews, and they often find themselves categorised also as Photo Essays or under Stops and Stories. Here is the first: When I Grow Up from 2010.
More recent exhibition posts include Pop art illuminations from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and Drawing the Bottom Line at Ghent‘s SMAK.
I used to be a great reader. To be sure, there were times I read more and times I read less. But throughout my life till I was in my 30s it was rare I didn’t have at least one book on the go. As I approached my 40th birthday, though, work was taking over a larger and larger part of my life. Finding the time to read things that did not have to do with education and teaching became increasingly difficult.
In February 1997 I was diagnosed with a stress-related depression. After that, for roughly 15 years, reading ceased to be a pleasure. I found, all too often, I couldn’t hold a plot in my head, couldn’t focus on a story. I found the trials and tribulations of made-up characters boring. Sometimes I couldn’t even read a longer sentence to the end without forgetting how it started.
It was a sign of my improving state of mind when at the end of 2011 I realised I’d read 20 odd books during the year. Hesitantly I started to set myself goals and give myself time daily to read. One year built on the next and I’m now averaging a book a week.
The posts in the Book review category are often reviews of single books, but sometimes there are two books reviewed together and sometimes I spend time on a particular author. Examples of the first sort would be Orsinian Tales (short stories by Ursula LeGuin) or In the Swim with Dr Sacks. Of the second my review of The Lucky Galah and Händelser vid Vattnet. And of the third, perhaps, Paddy’s journey: Gifts, woods and broken roads.
Besides these, there are a number of occasional Reading diary posts which are mostly made up of shorter reviews of books I’ve read recently, together with thoughts and musings inspired by them. For example, Reading on the rails from 2018 or On Reading and the Art of Giving Up from 2016.
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Most recently updated 1 October 2021