Monday, April 30, 2012

still more Trollope, Robinson, etc.

I am cranky these days. Very, very cranky.

I finished my re-read of The Prime Minister, the fifth book in Trollope's Palliser series, and it's very depressing. The political machinations which destroy good people are upsetting, and the anti-Semitism is too. (At first it seems that Trollope is only writing an anti-Semitic character, but he proceeds to lavish every anti-Semitic stereotype on his villain, and it's quite unpleasant.) I finished it feeling a little beaten down.

Then I read Peter Robinson's Friend of the Devil. Robinson writes solid police procedurals set in Yorkshire, and I usually consider his books a pretty perfect weekend-afternoon read. They're well-written, realistically gritty without being too disturbing, and I like his main characters. But I've noticed in the last few that he is beginning to get fairly abusive toward his female characters, and this one went over-the-top with it. This book failed for me as a diversion about twenty pages in, when a recurring female character wakes up after a black-out-drunk night with a stranger, and at no point does she a) acknowledge that she probably wasn't capable of consent or b) wonder whether or not they used a condom. And this is a character who, several books ago, got pregnant as a result of a rape. Seriously, Robinson? The most pressing concern of a woman with that sexual history is going to be that this man is younger than she is? Not likely. Later Robinson has the man publicly humiliate her about the age difference. There is no reason for this subplot at all, and he devotes thirty percent of the book to it, apparently just to shame his character. It's especially troubling because he would never shame his main male character like this.

Like I said, I'm cranky. Food issues are raising their many hydra-heads, as they always do sooner or later. I don't feel up to the vulnerability of writing in depth about body-hatred and my history of disordered eating in this space just yet. The short version is that through stress and exhaustion I lost twelve pounds (almost ten percent of my total weight) in six months last year, and have gained seven of them back, and I feel huge and bloated and lacking in self-control. Which is insane, and at least I'm aware it's insane and I have continued to eat normally. That's a lot more than I would have been capable of ten years ago.

I know things will be all right. That this is just a dark night of the soul, although I have to say frankly that my reaction to those at this point is, "Oh, come on, another one?"

For tonight's distraction, I have the next disc in the 1974 miniseries "The Pallisers",  which I am watching as a companion to re-reading the books. It is both engrossing and so, so hilarious. Three interior sets serve for twenty-five different houses; every actor is at least twenty years older than his/her character (there is a glorious moment when someone describes a man as "young" and amends it to "youngish", which I'm convinced was an ad-lib based on the actor's age; and we have women in their late 30s mincing around playing 18); and it took me five minutes to realize the matte painting in one scene was supposed to be an actual, physical Switzerland, at which point I hooted out loud. Everyone has been instructed to speak in affected nasal accents and the same six people are playing the extras in every scene. I love it.

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