To town yesterday, to a screening at Frightfest of Let The Right One In
, the film version of the bestselling Swedish vampire novel, adapted for the screen by its author, John Ajivide Lindqvist. Set in a bleak, wintery working class suburb of Stockholm in the early 1980s, it features a very creep pedophile turned ineffectual serial killer in the Renfield role, and some excellent twists to cannonical vampire lore (including the best cats v. vampire bit I've ever seen, vampiric addiction to puzzles, and as far as I know the first demonstration of what happens when a vampire steps over a threshold uninvited), but at its heart is the affecting portrait of the developing relationship between a bullied twelve-year-old boy, and a vampire girl who has been twelve for a very long time. Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson turn in astonishing performances as the friends sharing a very dark secret, and director Tomas Alfredsson provides some lovely atmospheric moments, and by framing the more gruesome moments through windows, half-open doors, or in the distance, never tips the delicate romance into outright horror. Watch out for it in spring next year.
Recently read: Andre Dubus III's The Garden of Last Days
, in which a perfect novella of lost innocence strains to escape an overblown blockbuster; Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News
, third in her series of 'literary' crime novels, with a slightly fumbled crux but a very finely sustained tone of dark humour, a plot that effortlessly glides on a slick of coincidences, and in the character of sixteen-year-old Reggie a wonderful example of the gritty girl detective; and Rick Perlstein's Nixonland
, a terrific portrait of 1960s America, and a rigorous explication of how Nixon poisoned American politics for two generations (not for nothing is our strand of history, in Cowboy Angels
, called the Nixon sheaf).