My essentials: Leanne Ellul’s cultural picks

No 75 | Leanne Ellul, 33, writer/lecturer

1. Book

Shy by Max Porter. I bought the book while on holiday from a small bookshop in Utrecht. Having read other works by Porter, I was looking forward to this one. The disjointed narrative is fragmented further through different fonts and layouts, whereby the form echoes the content. It is a story about a troubled teenager, Shy, albeit a book for teenagers. Shy is neither a poetry book nor a novel in the traditional sense, and somehow it is both. The book defies genre only to create something of its own.

2. Film

The Lost Daughter (dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal). A film like this is reason enough to pay for my Netflix subscription. The film oscillates between truth and deceit, reality and fiction. Childhood and motherhood collide while we, as an audience, keep on asking questions till the very end (even after the film has finished). Of course, I had to watch it because of Olivia Coleman. She truly brings out the character of a disoriented child in the body of an accomplished grown woman. I then went on to read the book by Elena Ferrante. And it did not disappoint either.

3. TV/Internet

Nerd alert: Sometimes I browse YouTube for online lectures. I stumbled upon Rosi Braidotti’s lectures; some dating back to the nineties. I had never read any of her work nor listened to her. She engrossed me with some of her arguments about cultural politics, gender, and the body. Her arguments made me think further and harder – which is something I seek. So, every now and again, I listen to another lecture of hers.

4. Music

Florence and the Machine and Dance Fever. I have always loved Florence as an artist; her way of life speaks volumes to me. Last November, my lifelong friend and I went to see her in London only to find out (while on the train) that the show got cancelled because she broke her leg. We then managed to see her a few months later. Seeing her live on stage was ever so special. Her voice is unfailing. Her presence is breath-taking. I also love Dance Fever because of the poem versions of the songs! Her lyrics are indeed poetry.

5. Place 

Ix-Xatt l-Aħmar. Because there is a strange story related to it. A few months back, my partner and I went for a walk and he suggested ix-Xatt l-Aħmar. It was going to be a first for me. As soon as the bay came into view, I stepped back dumbfounded because it was the same bay I had dreamt about some years ago. Except that the dream was an apocalyptic one. It was uncomfortable. But it was beautiful. Gozo is beautiful in general. And I hope it retains its beauty in an overbuilt country of cranes and construction.