Recent reads in brief

Giant Days: Volume 4
written by John Allison, illustrated by Max Sarin

I love this series. Room-mates Susan, Daisy and Esther are still battling through their first year of university. This volume opens during the Easter holidays. Esther has decided to drop out, so Susan and Daisy travel to her hometown of Tackleford (the main setting of Allison’s ongoing web series Scary Go Round) to talk her out of it. Hijinks and bonding ensue.

This volume is preoccupied by romance: break-ups, the aftermath of break-ups, the hint of something new. There is a corresponding lack of the surreal weirdness that usually characterises Allison’s work, but the story and in particular the girls’ friendship are so sweet and wonderful that I love it just the same. It’s adorable and it makes me happy.

Published 2017 by Boom! Box.

Source: Excelsior Comics, Bristol.


The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

This is a quick, easy read. It’s also a pretty good thriller. Rachel takes the same train to and from London each day. It almost always stops at the same junction from which she likes to observe the back of one particular house, home to a couple who look endearingly happy. When one half of that couple goes missing, Rachel has valuable information for the police, but it turns out that she isn’t the most reliable witness. Our narrator has been withholding from us.

This gets dark and twisty pretty quickly, and it all has a smack of truth. But it’s not truly upsetting or disturbing – it’s thrilling. And though I’m not personally familiar with the issues involved, I suspect that Hawkins has done a good job of balancing realism and the need for adrenaline. While the writing isn’t amazing, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

“It’s a relief to be back on the 8.04. It’s not that I can’t wait to get into London to start my week – I don’t particularly want to be in London at all. I just want to lean back in the soft, sagging velour seat, feel the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the window, feel the carriage rock back and forth and back and forth, the comforting rhythm of wheels on tracks. I’d rather be here, looking out at the houses beside the track, than almost anywhere else.”

Published 2015 by Doubleday.

Source: Borrowed from a library at work.


Yes Please
by Amy Poehler

This is somewhere between a memoir and a collection of essays. I like Amy Poehler’s work on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation, and I’m reasonably sure we’re on the same page politically, so I figured this would be an entertaining read. It is that, but the humour wasn’t always to my taste and the career stuff was sometimes a bit celebrity-braggy.

Poehler doesn’t tell her life story here. There are snatches of her life where it fits into the theme of the chapter. So, for example “How I fell in love with improv” charts her stage experiences from college through to SNL but there are no deviations into other college experiences and only passing mention of living on the super cheap while trying to make it in Chicago. She keeps mention of her divorce very kind and classy, while acknowledging her own pain and hurt.

“The group was called My Mother’s Fleabag and it was the oldest running improvisational group on campus. I wanted in…one of the performers…pushed me to audition, though I have no memory of actually doing it. I think it was mostly short-form improvisational games. I do remember that it was thrilling. I went back to my room and waited. We were told that we made the group by being woken up in the middle of the night and taken to a secret location to drink. It was like being hazed for one day, which is the exact amount of hazing I am able to withstand.”

Published 2014 by Picador.

Source: Borrowed from a library at work.