Winnipeg Public Library provides access to the Libby app, with audio and ebooks played across devices. I started with non-fiction, usually books focusing on productivity, especially while adapting to 1-2 days on campus with the rest working from home. After listening to a sample of Kim Alexis’ reading of the first Anita Blake novel, ‘Guilty Pleasures,’ I tagged the 22 novels available and began listening. It’s not my first time with Laurel K. Hamilton’s work, I read a few novels in the ‘Merry Gentry‘ series, her novel with a Fae Private Investigator as the lead character. The novels, especially one title within this series, are pretty smutty. Anita Blake, on the other hand, starts off as rather chaste character , telling her werewolf boyfriend in ‘The Lunatic Cafe’ she would not have sex until they married. I was working my way through the Chekhov short stories, read by Richard Armitage, on my Audible app. I liked them and he enjoyed reading them, but my brain needed something else for the time being. I began to imagine a conversation, something like this:
RA: Did I do something wrong? Am I boring you?
Me: No, my brain has gone from mushy with grief to soft with it. At least I can read novels again, not just audiobooks. I am not ready for the Russians unless it’s the upcoming NHL season.
While I wait for Hamilton’s Blake to set up her own all-male harem, that happened with the ‘Merry Gentry’ series, I started watching ‘Grantchester.’ The ITV series stars Robson Green, who I only saw in the UK version of ‘Being Human,’ as Inspector Geordie Keating; James Norton, who I vaguely remember from a Doctor Who, episode like so many UK actors and ‘Happy Valley,’ as Vicar Sidney Chambers. Much like the town in ‘Midsomer Murders,’ Grantchester is a small section of England with a high body count. Unlike Midsomer, they have a vicar with cheekbones that can cut glass. They now have a new actor after Norton’s left the series, also with features carved from marble, named Tom Brittney. (Who I remember as-*sniff*-Lieutenant Foster from Outlander.) Another imagined conversation:
RA: Am I being dumped?
Me: Sweetie, I never thought an Englishman could get any more pale until I saw James Norton and I remember your skin tone with darker hair. Yeah, no, he’s too cookie-cutter for me. I can hardly wait to see you in the clerical collar as Father Quart. If you’re playing a Jesuit, you might meet Father James Martin. You’ll love his work.
A friend of mine once described the Church of England as ‘all the ritual, with half the guilt.’ On one hand I see communion, vestments, but the clerics can marry except if you’re Leonard. One storyline had Sidney involved with a divorced woman, even engage in some nookie. Now, that would get you booted out of clergy in the 50’s (you couldn’t marry a divorced woman) but for Leonard he would not only get booted out of the clergy, he could go to jail. Leonard seemed annoying at first but Al Weaver gave this character a self-awareness about his bookishness and his sexuality, making for some great character development throughout the series. I have a soft spot for this character maybe it’s knowing men like him and the struggle with their sexuality or relating to the bookish-awkward way he encounters life from time to time.
The smutty/fluffy turn comes as Winnipeg goes through a spike in Coronavirus cases. After flattening the curve, we took the ‘restart’ part of the new government program the wrong way. We were supposed to be restarting the economy not restarting a wave in a pandemic. My Premier (Canadian equivalent to a Governor), Brian Pallister, keeps wagging his finger and preaching out ‘the fundamentals’ while not providing rent-assist or aid to local businesses. (Friend to the business class my ass! Corporations maybe but not small-to-medium sized ones.) Don’t get me started on Education or how our Minister of Education attended a home-schooling conference with such diminaries as Betsy DeVos, Ted Cruz, or the AfD.
I guess plowing through nine audiobooks in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series provided a mental break from all the lunacy. (Not intended as a werewolf joke.) It’s something happening if reading novels has not dropped off the radar. People reread books, read lots of romances, or went headlong into dystopian novels. Ironically, the ones published this year were written in the aftermath of Brexit and the 2016 US election. Authors are not prophets just good observers of the world. It might also be one of the few times there’s more books than plays, television, and movies. Less COVID tests, more distancing, and definately people staying at home.