As the summer comes to a close I tried to think of the best way to round up the things I’ve been reading and watching. I could make a list, but that already partly exists on Goodreads. Instead I pose to you the questions that were raised for me as I read and watched, since lingering questions are perhaps my favorite takeaways from those experiences. I appreciate anything that keeps me thinking after it’s over, even if I didn’t love the book/movie, or sour on it as I mull it over (see: The Marriage Plot).
In the spirit of keeping things brief and distilled down, I tried to stick to one or two questions, whether serious or silly, that occurred to me during or after. For movies and TV shows, I only included films I saw in theater or shows I watched regularly, the exception being Hitchcock which I included just because I’ve watched a good amount. I’m certain I’ve left off a good few movies, but if they didn’t keep my thinking well then I blame them.
- How much is one’s own memory terrifyingly apathetic to and ignorant of our role in other peoples’ lives? (A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes)
- Is it easier if the past never catches up to you? And how awesome is Italy? (Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter)
- Is there a singular best Hitchcock movie? (Vertigo, Rear Window, Rebecca )
- Chapter 2 of Cannery Row is one of my favorite two pages of any book. Not a question. And while I’m on the topic of not-questions, nothing has ever made me love California more than the description of Cannery Row as “a poem, a sink, a grating noise, a quality of life, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” (Cannery Row)
- Why are boys so unable to wait to watch TV shows with their girlfriends? (Breaking Bad) (This may or may not be a question raised by my personal experiences rather than the show)
- How did Georgia Bird give birth to an 11 lb 12 oz baby and then still go on to have even more children? (Bird: The Making of an American Sports Legend by Lee Daniel Levine)
- Are Hemingway’s women just fantasy-laden projections at best, or complications at worst? Is it bad that I don’t really care, and linger on every misogynistic anti-Semitic word anyway? (The Sun Also Rises, In Our Time)
- What does it mean to be a little beast in a big, big universe? And if you’re on a boat that takes you exactly where you need to go, is it the right place to be? (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
- Can exes be friends? (Celeste and Jesse Forever) (My opinion: yes, but I’m naive and want to see the sliver of good in every boy I’ve ever slept with)
- Aren’t we all a little bit defined by our obsessive and singular pursuits? Does it stand in the way of “thoughtless being”? (The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach)
- Will sports books and movies always fail the Bechdel Test? (I’M A FEMI-NERD, GET OVER IT) (The Art of Fielding)
- Is an ethereal male gaze an inherently flawed way of telling a female story? (The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides)
- To what extent does Eugenides write a realistic mental illness, and to what extent does he glamorize and fetishize it? (The Marriage Plot, The Virgin Suicides)
- Is dating really just a big con? And how fun must it be to write this type of book? (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn)
- Will anyone be able to get over the obvious flaws in The Newsroom and see it as the “set of stereotypical yet entertaining characters embroiled in love plots” that it is? (The Newsroom)
- Why doesn’t Julia Louis-Dreyfus do more? (Veep)
- What is a First Love? And how come Wes Anderson movies make me laugh so much harder than anyone else in the theater? (Moonrise Kingdom)
- DID BILL COMPTON JUST COME BACK AS A GOD? (True Blood)
Any make-you-think movies and books I’m totally missing?