Yesterday I took down the Christmas tree in the living room, boxed up the ornaments and tinsel and lights, and then disassembled the tree into its many components (“branches”) and returned that box to the attic. It was exactly fun, but it needed to be done.
Later that afternoon, I finished reading my first book for the new year, My Friend Maigret by Georges Simenon. I liked it, and the nice thing about having now discovered Simenon is that the man wrote close to 200 books in his lifetime, so I’m unlikely to run out any time soon. Though I am somewhat disappointed to discover that so few of his Maigret mystery novels seems to be available in English translation, much less in this series design I rather quite like. I enjoyed My Friend Maigret, though like Inspector Cadaver, which I read last year, the book was less of a murder mystery than a leisurely stroll through the detective’s mind.
Then yesterday I watched Passchendaele. It’s not a perfect movie, though I did like it considerably more than Paul Gross’ first film as director, Men With Brooms. He and Caroline Dhavernas are both quite good in it, no surprise, and there are moments of real beauty in the film, both in specific lines from the script and in the scenery. (Seriously, I’ve been to the Canadian Rockies and can attest to their wonder, and Heather has been known to post a photo or two in her time, but there are scenes in the movie, set in the foothills of Alberta, that are just achingly beautiful.)
Again, not a perfect movie, maybe occasionally a little too on the nose about the horrors of war and a little muddled in its storytelling, but well shot and grounded in very good performances.
Today I wrote a little:
She wasn’t afraid of anything except for dying, and since that had already happened, Lisbeth said, she was fearless. Those who knew her — and there weren’t many, maybe just a few handlers at the agency — knew it was a lie, but it was a lie they were happy enough to let her keep if it meant she got results. She acted fearless, and the act was all that mattered. The results were all that mattered. If a lie was needed to keep those results coming, then so be it. She wasn’t likely to encounter the thing she really was afraid of in this line of work, not anymore, at least not if she kept her head down and focused on the job. No one at the agency was going to help her do anything else. What she really was afraid of was the thing that had killed her, and that thing was long dead as far as she or any of the official files were concerned. Fearlessness was a lie, but it was a lie that won out in the end.
That had been before Hobbs’ End, of course, and the murders that had happened there on Lisbeth’s watch. It had been a mistake to send her, her handlers said, and Lisbeth herself had been reluctant to go. The case was too familiar, too much like the events that had led to her death, five years earlier, and that had led her now to be in the agency’s employ. She had never been to Hobbs’ End, never even heard of the town, but that didn’t matter. She wasn’t afraid, she said — of course she wasn’t afraid — but it was a coincidence that hit a little too close for home.
But they’d sent her, and because the lie of fearlessness was all she had to guide her, she went. At that point it was only a disappearance, or rather two dozen, a high-school class that had vanished on a field trip. A teacher, two parents, and all of the students but one. By agency standards it was almost run-of-the-mill. There was no reason to suspect the same thing that had happened to Lisbeth five years earlier was happening again.
No idea where it’s headed yet, if anywhere, and I’m not entirely in love with the way the last sentence underlines the fact that Lisbeth is not really a character so far, just someone that this is happening to. But it was free-writing well spent, I think. Better forty minutes of mediocre, or even terrible, words actually on the page, than years of theoretically perfect words never let out of your head.
So that was my weekend. A lot of the snow has melted, first in yesterday’s sun and then in today’s rain, but I’m still glad I won’t have to head back to the office until Tuesday.