How comforting that, after all these years, Bridget Jones is still an idiot.
Now in her early fifties, she’s grappling with raising two very sweet but very boisterous children (an early scene in which the kids are making horrific messes from both ends of their body could be marketed as an alternative form of contraception), and learning the complexities of social media. (Am smugly pleased to point out that, as far as I’m aware, she never gains more Twitter followers than me.)
And she’s single. Again! Her one-true-love Mark Darcy is (horreur!) dead, killed by a landmine on a valiant mission to South Sudan. Which conveniently frees Bridget up for wacky and embarrassing hijinks (almost all of them self-inflicted) as she starts dating again – but which more conveniently adds much-needed depth to the book, as grief and sadness for Mark wash unexpectedly in and out of her everyday life.
Several reviews of this book deem it not v gd – some so harsh you’d think it was a horrifically unnecessary sequel in line with Sex and the City 2. Maybe those reviews softened me up, lowered my expectations – but Mad About the Boy is not a bad book. It’s a Bridget Jones book! It’s exactly what you expect from a Bridget Jones book! It’s hardly groundbreaking (for example: the older-woman-dating-younger-men thing is more well-worn than a serial dater’s most comfortable pair of Spanx) but it’s light and frothy and fun. I read Bridget Jones’s exploits because she is a charming idiot, and in Mad About the Boy she is a very charming idiot.
I don’t remember how I first found out about Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy – it just sort of stumbled onto my reading list. Which is appropriate, because this is one of the most mysterious and baffling books I ever read.
There’s no easy way to describe the Trilogy, which is sort-of-but-not-really a spoof of detective novels overlaid with a navel-gazing exploration of identity and what fiction is and how it intersects with reality. Sort of. But not really. The first instalment, City of Glass, follows a writer who assumes the identity of a private detective named Paul Auster (yeah) and becomes obsessed with tracking a creepy client’s even creepier father. Book two, Ghosts, is about another private eye, Blue, who also becomes obsessed with a case – watching a man called Black. And part three, The Locked Room, is about a writer who unwittingly takes over the life of a friend.
Reading the trilogy is kind of like watching Lost – for all that TV drama’s (many, many) flaws, at its best it summoned up a sense of foreboding mystery, that something dark and deep and important lurked below its surface. The Trilogy evokes that same feeling of ominous, “What the fuck is going here?” wonder. As everyone in the world knows, Lost failed (terribly, horribly failed) at tying it all up into something at the end. But The New York Trilogy succeeds, and it probably succeeds because it doesn’t attempt to boil everything down into a straight-forward explanation*. (“They’re all in the afterlife!”) It just presents a conclusion that is as oblique and utterly batshit as everything that came before it. You either buy it or you don’t; I bought it.
*In fairness to Lost, though, the Trilogy doesn’t have reams of characters who each need their own semblance of a farewell – which probably makes its opaque ending more palatable.