Book review: Luster by Raven Leilani

I finished reading Luster on new year’s eve, then I had sit down for a couple of days to think hard on what I thought about it.

I mean I liked it, loved it in fact, but I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Is it literary fiction, literary erotica, commercial literary erotic fiction?

Anyway, I have hard enough job genrefying my own work, so I probably shouldn’t worry too much about pigeonholing someone else’s . . .

The story is told from the raw, stream of consciousness of Edie, an editorial coordinator for a children’s book publisher. She has no money, her dreams are worn hollow, and she can’t see a future any different from the life she has now. So Edie tries to fill the void in her life by having semi-casual sex with just about every man (and one woman) in the office (even with someone who works in the IT department if you can believe it). After she’s fired (it was always going to happen) she focusses her energies on the affair she’s having with Eric, a middle-aged man with a strangely accommodating wife, Rebecca, and an adopted daughter, Akila. How far does this affair go?

Well, far enough that she moves in with them . . . 

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Vellum: a list of wants without the tantrum

I have a strange relationship with Vellum. It’s one of the most expensive apps I own (or rather license), and it’s the app that I probably use the least. And yet it’s one of the few apps I wouldn’t be without, because when I do get round to using it, it saves be a bucketload of time and churns out professional quality results without me pulling out what little hair I have.

So for the uninitiated, Vellum is sort of like a word-processor … though not really. You can load a file (.docx, .rtf) into it, or type your book straight in, and Vellum will churn out beautifully formatted ePubs for a handful of mobile platforms such as Apple Books, Amazon Kindle, along with PDFs that be dropped into CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.

Yes, I know that I can do the same thing in Word and Scrivener, but even Scrivener can’t deliver such a clean, well-dressed output without some fiddling afterwards. Vellum will space out your text to make sure all the pages are balanced without leaving those niggling single lines on a page before skipping off to the next chapter.

I’m not a believer in the one-stop-shop kind of an app, but Vellum is so easy to use and so well thought out, I find myself wondering what would it need so I could use it more.

So here’s is my list of wants for Vellum, based on nothing more than my own sense of entitlement (there’s a lot of it about after all).

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Soul

This one comes from the Pixar Studios, which as far as I can remember, has never put a foot wrong. The film was supposed to be out last summer, but suffered the same fate as a lot of movies set for a June outing: faced with the prospect of empty cinemas, the studios delayed the release, hoping that the pandemic would be sorted by Christmas.

Well, for the UK and the US . . . not even close. So with no end in sight, the studios have three options:

  1. Keep delaying the film until audiences can return to the picture houses, and hope they’re still interested in seeing it. (No Time to Die)
  2. Release to the cinemas anyway and hope enough people are willing to risk infection to see it. (Wonder Woman 1984)
  3. Release it to a streaming service and see if it attracts new customers.

Pixar went for option number 3 (which they can do since they can stream on Disney+), and frankly, they deserve to have the gamble pay off.

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