I expected something more witty, something more satirical, something more gay (take that whatever way you will)--what I got instead was one of the mos...moreI expected something more witty, something more satirical, something more gay (take that whatever way you will)--what I got instead was one of the most beautiful meditations of life, time, memory and loss I've every experienced. Might very well become an all-time favorite. (less)
A big brick of a book. For some 500 rather graceless pages Basinger stomps from film synopsis to film synopsis with a smattering of analysis (and a lo...moreA big brick of a book. For some 500 rather graceless pages Basinger stomps from film synopsis to film synopsis with a smattering of analysis (and a lot of bullet-point lists) scattered between, presenting the often contradictory ways studio-era Hollywood films presented women and "women's problems." Taking full advantage of her far-reaching knowledge of films, Basinger presents a lot of compelling evidence and examples for her loosely sketched themes but unfortunately fails to do much with it. Still, it often makes for interesting reading, and I managed to soldier through right to the end, and I suppose that counts for something.
"It is obvious that seeds off unrest, even rebellion, were planted in some female minds by th evidence they saw on-screen, despite the conventional endings that turn a story into a cautionary tale."(less)
I'm not one with much tolerance for rhapsodic articulations of the fine gradiations of color in the dawn sky, and even less for Whitman-esque free ver...moreI'm not one with much tolerance for rhapsodic articulations of the fine gradiations of color in the dawn sky, and even less for Whitman-esque free verse paens to everday mundanities, but by the seventh notebook I had been completely won over by McGrath's incisive depictions--sometimes in verse, sometimes in journal-like prose passages--of the introspective, nature-infused world he inhabits.
"So the arc of creativity is an ungrounded rainbow, and cause for hope. Why distrust the universe? We are engines burning violently toward the silence."
Suspended somewhere between a short book and an extended essay, this is a brief look at a number of reoccuring narrative and stylistic techniques in t...moreSuspended somewhere between a short book and an extended essay, this is a brief look at a number of reoccuring narrative and stylistic techniques in the ever-popular genre of memoir, fleshed out with examples culled from Birkert's obviously expansive personal readings. It often gets bogged down in mere synopses, but the first two chapters--the prologue where Birkerts describes his own struggle to write a memoir and the chapter on "lyrical seekers" (specifically Nabokov, Woolf and Dillard)--are densely packed and quite illuminating. Uneven, but not without merit.
"Every memoirist is, with Proust, in search of lost time."(less)
Previously, I had only stumbled across examples of Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" individually--a cluster in the Tate Modern, a stray posting...morePreviously, I had only stumbled across examples of Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" individually--a cluster in the Tate Modern, a stray posting on an internet blog, etc. But here they all are, an expansive body of work grouped together and arranged by Sherman herself for maximum impact--and what an impact it has! This might as well be called a short story collection as much as an art book, for each turn of the page presents not only a dramatic black and white photograph but a story without words. And each story presented--in one a blowsy brunette in her underewar and sunglasses, clutching a martini and viciously confronting the camera, in yet another a blonde wrapped up in a dark trenchcoat, nervously navigating her way through a darkened street, all recognizably Sherman yet somehow not quite her either--present the potential for endless variations, interpretations, ponderings and conjenctures. A book meant to be pulled out often to be admired and puzzled over--it's a shame I have to return it back to the library. (less)
The first incarnation of what would become Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial film The Dreamers, for which Adair wrote the screenplay and then later...moreThe first incarnation of what would become Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial film The Dreamers, for which Adair wrote the screenplay and then later reworked into a novel of the same name. So basically this was my third experience with this story--I've both watched the film and read the novel several times--and The Holy Innocents is certainly the least of the three, and there's no getting around the fact that in a lot of ways this feels like the first draft of the story. Its best moments (namely, the first third of the novel) are retained in the later versions and many weaker elements were rightly discarded, including a long interlude at the twins's grandmother's estate in Normandy filled with Ouija boards and pretentious aristocratic relatives. Wearing its indebtedness to Cocteau's classic Les enfants terribles on its sleeve, the main problem is that the first act, brimming with cinema, sex and revolutionary politics is so vivid that Adair has nowhere to go but down (Bertolucci was unable overcome this flaw in the film version as well). Not essential reading in any way, and not of any interest to those not already interested in the material, but I quite enjoyed it.
"He was also terrified that he had not properly read the small print of their relationship. He forgot that friendship is a contract in which there can be no small print."(less)
Through most of this lovely collection I could never quite rid myself of the sensation that my mind was little more than a sieve, unable to grasp ahol...moreThrough most of this lovely collection I could never quite rid myself of the sensation that my mind was little more than a sieve, unable to grasp ahold of the overarching narratives presented in each poem...
But after a few poems I realized I was just fine with that, that I was perfectly content to submerge myself the music and lyricism and rhythm of Graham's lines and elegant cobwebs of phrases and words, content to stumble upon quiet pockets of transcendence...
...there is not mistake, the right minute falls harmlessly, intimate, overcrowded, without pro- venance--perhaps bursting with nostalgia but ripening so fast without growing at all..."
After spending about a year or so devoting most of my intellectual energy to reading and studying Virginia Woolf in preparation for writing a thesis,...moreAfter spending about a year or so devoting most of my intellectual energy to reading and studying Virginia Woolf in preparation for writing a thesis, I have found myself rather awkwardly unable to finish one of her novels in the years that have passed since (with the exception of the minor divertissement provided by Flush). I've started rereading To the Lighthouse and Orlando multiple times and subsequently, unceremoniously abandoned them before the halfway point. I must say, there are few situations more ominous and dispiriting (and embarrassing) than being suddenly unable to read the work of the author one professes to be their favorite.
But thanks to the recent flurry of VW-related activity on my update feed compliments of Elizabeth, I was inspired to pay a visit to Mrs. Dalloway, as spontaneously and unexpectedly as Peter Walsh drops in on his old friend halfway through the novel, and as it was for Peter, the encounter left me feeling, rather unexpectedly, emotionally churned and unabashedly elated. It was just so damn wonderful to feel once again the sheer sensations of connectedness Woolf's best writing inspires; as 2009 draws to its close and I reflect back on my reading adventures over the last year, I realize how heavily this year happened to tilt towards the postmodern and the generally existential, and combined with all the grad-school theory, there was a lot of emphasis in 2009 on subjectivity, and its accompanying dissonances and disjunctions.
So how amazing (or as VW would say, how delicious) it is to be reading and suddenly feeling the entire world form into intricate patterns and countless little cobwebs of interconnections… in this postmodern world, supposedly all discontinuity and hopeless fragmentation, it's comforting—probably more than a grad student should admit—to suddenly be looking through a lens where a seemingly unrelated middle aged woman and a mentally unstable young man with no real knowledge of each other can be linked, with meaning and resonance achieved in the vague space provided by simply existing…
In my mind, Mrs. Dalloway always tends to pale in comparison to memories of Lighthouse, The Waves, even Orlando, but no, in it's own way it's really just as good as those, and for making me miss the streets of London, it's second to none in all of literature. And the writing! The ebb and flow of the distinctive prose-poetry, once so daunting, is now somehow comforting in its endless layers of complexity and meaning—it's nice to know that a certain mystery and opacity will always remain, just as it does in "real life;" but, of course, there's always the hope of discovering, understanding a little more on the next unexpected visit...
"Life itself, every moment of it, every drop of it, here, this instant, now, in the sun, in Regent's Park, was enough. Too much indeed. A whole lifetime was too short to bring it out, now that one had acquired the power, the full flavor; to extract every ounce of pleasure, every shade of meaning..."(less)
After completing the groundbreaking experiment The Waves, Woolf “rested” by working on what she considered a mere trifle—a short novel that would even...moreAfter completing the groundbreaking experiment The Waves, Woolf “rested” by working on what she considered a mere trifle—a short novel that would eventually become Flush: A Biography, a version of the courtship of poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning as seen through the eyes of their omnipresent cocker spaniel. Using historical facts as a platform, what emerges is a witty and unusual take on one of the most famous real-life romances of all time, and even if it comes off as rather slight when placed next to Woolf’s other novels (particularly her later ones), it’s certainly one of her most lighthearted and irrepressible, and tremendous fun. (less)
Organizing years worth of computer files, I came across this review, probably written about six years ago or so. I have to admit it didn't make as muc...moreOrganizing years worth of computer files, I came across this review, probably written about six years ago or so. I have to admit it didn't make as much of a lasting impression as I had expected it would:
I'm not exactly sure what drew me to this rather large novel in the first place, as solider narratives are typically not my thing (it probably has to do with the bad experience I had in high school with Crane's The Red Badge of Courage). But[i] Journey to the End of the Night[/i] presents more than a gritty look at the tortures of war, but provides a clear demonstration on how dramatically WWI altered how its participants (both military members and civilians alike) viewed the world. Though Céline apparently weaved fiction into his novel, Journey is obviously autobiographical, and puts us right into the main character's head through a semi-stream of consciousness technique that eventually achieves a brutal power through Céline's rather artless prose. A relentlessly bleak view of the world and humanity, Céline vividly paints the progression as indeed a journey into the indifferent darkness of night. Haunting. (less)