A stone path in rugged countryside.
  • 01.01: SILENT NIGHT (2021), dir. Camille Griffin
  • 02.01: Assembly, Natasha Brown (01.01)
  • 06.01: Infidelities, Kirsty Gunn (02.01)

I’ve deleted my Patreon creator’s account, which was beginning to feel like I was cheating on my website (or the other way around, I’m not sure). Two places for almost the same words, except on Patreon I was receiving money to support me as an artist, and here it’s always been the spirit of blogging on the “free Web”. I haven’t reconciled those two things. A writer needs to pay the bills, and every story (or blog post, or skeet) is a gift. It’s straightforward economically but not psychologically.

One of the things I did on Patreon to “add value” was post a list of films and books I’d read at the end of each month, in the spirit of Steven Soderbergh’s SEEN, READ lists. I published my 2023 Seen, Read list on New Year’s Day. People are fascinated by what famous directors are engaged with while they make their films, so there’s a ta-da moment to the yearly list, but nobody gives a shit about my annual list. I wondered if I could use the concept to think aloud about what I’m watching and reading in relation to what I’m writing. I’m going to give it a go in January. And keep the posts short.

I found Silent Night to be tonally jarring, but that might be the point—a broad comedy (Keira Knightley is hilarious) with vague references to a coming apocalypse that turns hard in the final act into the existential horrors of climate change. It mocks the rich mercilessly and brings a reckoning for their denial of feelings, suffering, and reality. Saltburn did a similar thing in a different way.

There is a far more subtle takedown of the rich in Assembly. A black woman working at a global bank in the City feels the relentless pressure to conform to the expectations of a colonialism-created patriarchy. The title refers to the school assemblies she presents at, and the way she experiences her life as a Frankenstein monster of things other people need her to be. Her boyfriend comes from a rich family. She learns she has cancer and hides it from him. It’s fierce! And it’s the shortest novel (cough) I’ve read at 100 pages.

Infidelities is a collection of short stories. The final story, Infidelity, was the most interesting, in that it digs into the mechanics of writing, playing with all the little decisions writers make and what it means to write something that feels right. It takes care and courage to write a story that has integrity—a useful reminder of what’s at stake.