Amy Steele

feminist. vegan. Simmons College B.A. Boston University M.S. in journalism. likes: indie film; documentaries, foreign films; art museums; tea; vegan cooking; literature; alternative music/goth/ Americana/ electro-pop/ folk.

Homepage: http://entertainmentrealm.com

book review: Acts of Infidelity

acts of infidelity

Acts of Infidelity by Lena Andersson. Other Press| April 23, 2019| 336 pages | $16.99| ISBN: 9781590519035

RATING: *****/5*

As with Willful Disregard, Swedish author Lena Andersson’s second Ester Nilsson novel, Acts of Infidelity, examines love and its complications, challenges and painful consequences. Writer Ester Nilsson meets actor Olof Sten and immediately falls in love with him. Olof isn’t exactly available, he’s married, but that doesn’t deter either of them from embarking into a relationship. Unfortunately, Ester doesn’t want to be the other woman, she wants to be Olof’s central focus. His one and only. Olof makes it clear that he’s not planning to leave his wife but Ester remains hopeful. “This was exactly what married people said when someone else had shaken their foundations, Ester thought. When people felt an intense desire, they might insist otherwise. The trick was knowing when they meant what they were saying and were saying it to be clear and honorable and when they meant the opposite. The question demanded a far-reaching and risky act of interpretation, work to which Ester was always willing to subject herself.” Unfortunately, Ester becomes Olof’s mistress. It seemed that unless she wanted to eliminate all contact with him that it was inevitable.

The overall darker tone and humor appeals to me. This novel is extremely relatable as is Willful Disregard, in which Ester experienced unrequited love. I often fall for unavailable men or those that just want to be friends with me or just have sex with me. When you’re emotionally vulnerable, it’s easy enough for men to string you along. It’s not that men and women can’t be friends. It’s just that if there’s chemistry or sex involved that definitely complicates things. He lets her know that he merely wants to be friends. He really likes her and wants to spend time getting to know her. But to what end Ester wants to know? When you’re a single woman over 40, how much time and energy should you spend on platonic relationships with men?

I completely empathize with Ester. We’re a lot alike in choosing inappropriate men or having bad timing in meeting men to whom we’re attracted. There’s also the over-sharing: “Those unlucky in love and of a certain temperament are compelled to talk about it, all the time and with anyone. Speaking eases the pain.” It’s this need to know that either we’re not alone in having these relationships or over-analyzing everything. It makes us feel better. When you’re insecure, you need others to occasionally remind you that it’s not you, it’s him or something like that. It’s also just a need to be intimately seen, to be cared for, to be loved. Andersson writes: “But what was the point of living if there wasn’t any hope for intoxication or vivacity? There was no point. You could only grind away because life had been bestowed upon you without you having any say in the matter.”

Olof possesses the arrogance and ability to take advantage of Ester’s vulnerability. He’s bold because he already has the wife, the long-term relationship. Anything that happens with Ester will be a bonus for him. So, they fall into an affair that’s extremely push/pull, stop/go, hot/cold. TOTAL MIXED MESSAGES. At one point there’s this: “The next morning, too, was devoted to erotic enjoyments.” And then this: “The absence of physical contact was worst when they had come so close to it.” Make up your mind Olof! It’s rather frustrating and I felt angered for Ester.

Eventually after this has gone on for years, Ester decides that she needs to push Olof to decide between her and his wife so she emails his wife. It backfires as Olof accuses her of being a stalker and calls her “psychotic, psychopathic and a crazy cunt.” Both Olof and his wife accuse Ester of mental illness and attack her reputation and character. He denies that he ever had an affair. He tells people it was a drunken one-night stand. In this patriarchal society with all the misogyny and toxic masculinity, people generally accept his version of events—“Because a man has urges that require his full stoic and rational powers to shut down, and a woman has her age-old ability to trick men into impregnating her while being irrationally unreliable, once was as good as never.”—which might be amusing if it weren’t so sad and true and disheartening.  Women get blamed and shamed and men walk away with reputations intact.

–review by Amy Steele

I received a review copy from Other Press.

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book review: Under the Table

under the table

Under the Table by Stephanie Evanovich. William Morrow| April 16, 2019| 272 pages | $26.99| ISBN: 9780062415929

RATING: ***/5*

Sometimes you crave a light read, a brain palette cleanser. I read this one back in September when I needed just such a reading break. It’s an easy, unoffensive, cute, rather predictable read. I liked it enough to finish it but didn’t find it particularly memorable. Zoey Sullivan escapes her stagnant marriage by moving in with her single and carefree (naturally) sister in New York. She pursues her passion for cooking and works as a caterer. Of course she meets a millionaire named Tristan Malloy who has the perfect model house kitchen. He’s handsome and successful but rather reclusive and socially inept so Zoey decides to help him by giving him a makeover. She finds herself falling for Tristan of course and then must decide whether to choose the hot millionaire or her Midwesterner, possessive husband Derek. It’s a really difficult decision—“Sweet, sexy, chivalrous to a fault, Tristan. They had no real history. There had been no declarations of love, just a gradual buildup of attraction that inevitably exploded in passion.” In the process of falling in love with the millionaire, Zoey does discover herself and own independence and strength and that’s admirable. Under the Table is the perfect fantasy and will make a perfect beach read.

 

–review by Amy Steele

 

I received an ARC from William Morrow for review purposes.

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new music: Drab Majesty

drab

Drab Majesty, the noir synth-pop project of musician Deb Demure and vocalist Mona D, have a new single out from their upcoming album Modern Mirror, which will be released in July 2019. The dark, dreamy and very 80s New Wave “Ellipsis” is a modern interpretation of Ovid’s “Narcissus.”

Modern Mirror  track list:
1. A Dialogue
2. The Other Side
3. Ellipsis
4. Noise of the Void
5. Dolls in the Dark
6. Oxytocin
7. Long Division
8. Out of Sequence

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book review: The Little Girl on the Ice Floe

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The Little Girl on the Ice Floe by Adelaide Bon. Europa| March 2019| 224 pages | $17.00| ISBN: 978-1-60945-515-6

RATING: *****/5*

“She has everything a person needs to be happy. Her childhood is privileged, sheltered. She’s healthy, pretty, intelligent. She lives in Paris, goes skiing in winter and swimming in the summer, visits museums abroad. She comes from a good family in a nice neighborhood; she’s been well brought up,she knows how to behave in polite society. She’s white, with French roots going all the way back to Charlemagne and to Morvan I, king of Bretons.”

Two decades after being assaulted, a detective re-opens the case of “The Electrician” and DNA analysis identifies a man who police recognize as a serial offender. He’s charged with assaulting 72 minors between 1983 and 2003. French author Adelaide Bon goes to court and testifies in the case and confronts the man who brutalized her so many years ago. Translated from the French by Tina Kover, The Little Girl on the Ice Floe is a remarkable memoir about sexual assault and its aftermath. (I truly enjoyed reading Disoriental which Tina Kover also translated.) There’s a conscious connection between subject, author and final product and therefore, becomes somewhat metta at times. Told in third person with the occasional first person, it’s powerful, raw, thoughtful, angry and exhilarating. It’s a revelatory and stunning depiction of how a woman copes after sexual assault. The author candidly depicts her struggles. The rape affects her in a myriad of ways for decades—from overeating to alcohol abuse to isolating to self-esteem issues to sexual relationships. “She convinces herself that she is made up of two completely separate parts: the disgusting, treacherous body and the pure, bright, joyous mind.”

What do you do when you’re hurting so much, when your suffering becomes unbearable? She becomes an avid reader as books provide the perfect refuge. She goes to therapy. She tries pretty much everything: “She participates in four more family constellation weekends; she tries holotropic breathing, rebirth, primal screaming, kinesiology, floral extracts and St. John’s Wort. She consults an etiopath and makes an appointment with an astrologist. She reads countless books on personal development, Indian spirituality, and nonviolent communication; she studies Jung and Schopenhauer. She’s like one of those trick birthday candles that relight themselves endlessly until you drown them in a glass of water. She is the granddaughter of a legionnaire, and as long as there is a war on, she will return again and again to the front line.” 

This potent creative masterpiece is a must-read.

–review by Amy Steele

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new music: Star Crawler covers “Pet Sematary”

pet

Los Angeles rock band Starcrawler, fronted by singer nineteen-year-old Arrow de Wilde, released a cover of the Ramones’ 1989 single “Pet Sematary” for the new film based on Stephen King’s novel, currently in theaters. It’s a raw, energetic rock cover. “Pet Sematary” was recorded by Mark Rankin (Queens of the Stone Age, Adele, Bloc Party, Weezer) and mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten).

Starcrawler is:

Henri Cash (guitar)
Austin Smith (drums)
Arrow de Wilde (vocals)
Tim Franco (bass)

Starcrawler will be on tour in May, supporting Beck and Cage the Elephant as well as The Distillers.

TOUR DATES:

5/11 – San Pedro, CA @ Brouwerij West #

5/12 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium #

5/13 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s #

5/15 – Eugene, OR @ Sessions Music Hall #

5/21 – Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theatre ^

5/22 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^

5/24 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall ^

5/25 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre ^

5/26 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre ^

5/28 – Boston, MA @ Royale ^

5/29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^

5/31 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^

6/1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer ^

6/2 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle ^

6/4 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East ^

6/12 – 6/15 – Bergen, Norway @ Bergenfest

6/17 – Gothenburg, Sweden @ Pustervik

6/18 – Malmo, Sweden @ Plan B

6/19 – Hamburg, Germany @ Nochtwache

6/22 – Vitoria, Spain @ Azkena Rocks Festival

6/25 – Guildford, UK @ Boileroom

6/26 – London, UK @ The Dome

6/27 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Academy 3

6/28 – Leeds, UK @ Hyde Park Book Club

6/30 – Norwich, UK @ Arts Centre

7/2 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Upstairs @ Paradiso

7/3 – Cologne, Germany @ MTC Club

7/4 – 7/7 – Belfort, France @ Les Eurockéennes Festival

7/11 – Ridgefield, WA @ Sunlight Supply Amphitheater *

7/13 – George, WA @ The Gorge *

7/16 – Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheater *

7/17 – Irvine, CA @ Five Point Amphitheater *

7/19 – Las Vegas, NV @ Park Theater *

7/20 – Chula Vista, CA @ North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre *

7/21 – Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin Pavilion *

7/23 – Denver, CO @ Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater *

# w/ Death Valley Girls

^ w/ The Distillers

* w/ Beck, Cage The Elephant, Spoon

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new music and tour dates: Cage the Elephant

Cage

Set to release its fifth album Social Cues on April 19, 2019, Cage The Elephant and Beck will co-headline their “The Night Running Tour” in North America this summer. Spoon will open all dates with additional support from Starcrawler, Sunflower Bean and Wild Belle in select cities.

here’s the band’s new single, “Goodbye:”

The GRAMMY®-winning, Nashville-based band is: vocalist Matt Shultz (vocals), Brad Shultz (rhythm guitar), Jared Champion (drums), bassist Daniel Tichenor, Nick Bockrath (lead guitar) and Matthan Minster (keyboards).

TOUR DATES:

May 4 – Atlanta, GA at Shaky Knees Music Festival

July 11 – Ridgefield, WA at Sunlight Supply Amphitheater*^

July 13 – George, WA at The Gorge*^

July 16 – Mountain View, CA at Shoreline Amphitheater*^

July 17 – Irvine, CA at Five Point Amphitheater*^

July 19 – Las Vegas, NV at Park Theater*^

July 20 – Chula Vista,CA at North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre*^

July 21 – Phoenix, AZ at Ak-Chin Pavilion*^

July 23 – Denver, CO at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater*^

July 26 – Austin, TX at Austin 360 Amphitheater*#

July 27 – Dallas, TX at The Dos Equis Pavilion*#

July 28 – Houston, TX at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion*#

July 30 – St. Louis, MO at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater*#

July 31 – Chicago, IL at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island*#

August 2 – Cincinnati, OH at Riverbend Music Center*#

August 3 – Detroit, MI at DTE Energy Music Theater*#

August 4 – Indianapolis, IN at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center*#

August 11 – Toronto, ON at Budweiser Stage*&

August 12 – Saratoga Springs, NY at Saratoga Performing Arts Center*&

August 13 – Darien Center, NY at Darien Lake Amphitheater*&

August 15 – Mansfield, MA at Xfinity Center*&

August 16 – Gilford, NH at Bank of New Hampshire*&

August 17 – New York, NY at Forest Hill Stadium*

August 20 – Holmdel, NJ at PNC Bank Arts Center*&

August 21 – Camden, NJ at BB&T Pavilion*&

August 22 – Columbia, MD at Merriweather Post Pavilion*&

August 24 – Raleigh, NC at Coastal Credit Union Music Park*&

August 25 – Charlotte, NC at PNC Music Pavilion*&

August 27 – Birmingham, AL at Oak Mountain Amphitheatre*&

August 29 – Tampa, FL at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre*&

August 30 – West Palm Beach, FL at Coral Sky Amphitheatre*&

* co-headlining with Beck, with special guest Spoon

^ with Starcrawler

# with Wild Belle

& with Sunflower Bean

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new music: Minke

minke.jpeg

“Too Late” is from London singer/songwriter Minke’s debut EP The Tearoom. Actress/comedian/director Aisha Tyler directed the video which stars (very cute!) actor Jean-Luc Bilodeau from ABC Family’s Baby Daddy.

Minke said: “Songwriting is my therapy. It’s what I’ve done since I first picked up a guitar when I was eleven. It’s the only thing that makes me feel better, so it’s what I do. When people listen to the Tearoom, I hope they get whatever they need from it. It could be reassurance or someone to identify with. That’s what makes me happy. It’s all I can do.”

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