I can't find a good book to listen to on audio at the moment. I have been listening to The Hidden by Tobias Hill but I can't really stick with it. It's well written, and the concept is good, but I dislike the characters and it doesn't have enough forward momentum to grip me. The story is that an archaeology student runs away to winter Greece to escape a failed marriage and gets work on a dig in Sparta (as was). What is beautifully conveyed is his developing belief that there was something hideously wrong with ancient Sparta, that it was infected with compulsive violence, perhaps through some curse on the land itself. I suspect that the student desires victimisation, that is what draws him to this image of Sparta, and as the story develops he will become a kind of scapegoat or helot for the rest of the archaeologists. But this is a depressing journey in the company of a bunch of nasty snobby bullies, so I am going to put it down unfinished.
On the plus side Yellow Blue Tibia and The City and the City both arrived in the post so I have paper-reading to do.
Season 3, Episode 6: Guy Walks into an Ad Agency. This is the best episode of season 3 so far.
It had one flaw: I don't think the British characters are quite realistically British. I said last week that I thought Mad Men would be about the impossibility of balancing success and morality, and the British are much more focussed than the Americans on being utterly ruthless, efficient and capitalist. I'm not sure that supernatural efficiency was a defining feature of British business in the early 1960s. Was post-war welfare Britain really a time when men with physical injuries were despised? Nu-huh. Well, the Brits are obviously there to represent an idea, which I guess is fair enough.
Why am I talking about that? I guess because it is some firm ground, and in the rest of the episode I am not entirely on firm ground. Person after person is obliterated in this episode: dismissed, wiped out or negated. Some of them will come back from this abyss, and others definitely won't. Don's daughter thinks the new baby is a dead man come back.
There is a great scene where Don and Joan - the alpha male and female - sit next to each other in hospital (where another character is being obliterated). Two magnificent animals - they should be King and Queen of the Universe, yet Joan has nothing at all to look forward to. She just saved a man's life, she made Don laugh from his darkness, and now she is going home to make dinner for a snivelling rapist. This is what sexism means.