A very handsome book, with some fascinating tidbits, but overall, rather elementary.
Weitz includes tons of primary sources translated from German that...moreA very handsome book, with some fascinating tidbits, but overall, rather elementary.
Weitz includes tons of primary sources translated from German that are way more interesting than his actual writing. His writing skills are paltry when compared to stuff he quotes; the amount of times he awards someone or something the prefix "the great" is exhausting.
Honestly, Franzen is a bit of a brat. Especially in "Mr. Difficult". If a novel is too hard for him then he should just put it down and not wail about...moreHonestly, Franzen is a bit of a brat. Especially in "Mr. Difficult". If a novel is too hard for him then he should just put it down and not wail about it in an editorial.(less)
O'Neill is a very novelistic playwright, and this is the most novelistic of his plays; take the brackets off the stage directions and replace "MARY:"...moreO'Neill is a very novelistic playwright, and this is the most novelistic of his plays; take the brackets off the stage directions and replace "MARY:" with "Mary said" and you've got something straight from Richard Yates.
What interested me about Long Day's Journey was the subtle details in the storytelling. I liked how Tyrone's background as a melodramatic actor informed his self-important and fanciful version of domestic life, and I liked O'Neill's rewrite of the domestic tragedy as a sort of modern ghost story. Those little inexplicit twists kept me interested, although the bickering Tyrones didn't have the same effect on me.
Like Death of a Salesman, another family tragedy of the American theater, one of the play's weak spots is that it's about familial unrest, which is hardly interesting even in life.(less)
Utterly devoid of tension. This has to do with 1) That we, in 2013 (or 2014, or 2174, or whenever you're reading this), know the outcome of the war. and...moreUtterly devoid of tension. This has to do with 1) That we, in 2013 (or 2014, or 2174, or whenever you're reading this), know the outcome of the war. and 2) That spoiling this play is incredibly easy. Even the short blurb on the back of the book gives away the entire plot, since, I suppose, something like "A mysterious drawing-room comedy set in 1941!" wouldn't do it any favors. Reasons to not write highly topical fiction.(less)
A strange book, something of a highly informal biology textbook peppered with some of the author's autobiographical information. Timothy Glover is a s...moreA strange book, something of a highly informal biology textbook peppered with some of the author's autobiographical information. Timothy Glover is a strange bogan, the sort of 80 year old man who gets himself riled up about the inbreeding of dogs in his own preface, making use of the exclamation point liberally.
If you ever wanted to know the average volume of semen in milliliters released by an ejaculating boar, or which muscles are used to perform a pelvic thrust, this book is for you.(less)
Charlie Rose: When Tao Lin graduated New York University in 2005, he began a career which pumped new life into the...moreTaipei – The Charlie Rose interview
Charlie Rose: When Tao Lin graduated New York University in 2005, he began a career which pumped new life into the world of contemporary letters. His terse, tongue-in-cheek prose style has attracted critics and imitators in equal numbers, and his books, with provocative titles like Eeeee Eee Eeee and Shoplifting from American Apparel, have garnered praise and sidelong glances in the same way. The new book is called Taipei; I’m here with Tao Lin.
Tao Lin: Thanks, Charlie.
CR: So, Tao, I finished the novel last night and, I have to say, it reminded me of a modern classic from some odd 10 years ago.
TL: Is it, um… Interpreter of Maladies?
CR: It made me think of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The way this main character, so evidently impaired, manages to function in the world at large in a way all his own is truly inspiring. I see you’re smiling, Tao, why is that?
TL: It’s just that the main character in Taipei is pretty much entirely based on me. As with, like, the main characters in all my other books. And I don’t think I’m, like, “evidently impaired” or anything like that.
CR: Oh, alright. Then that’s my mistake and I apologize. How would you say you fit into the English-language tradition of writers of autobiographical fiction, from Jack London to Hunter S. Thompson?
TL: Um. Well I don’t really look to those writers as any kind of inspiration. As far as influences go I like Don DeLillo and Lydia Davis, just sort of modern stuff like that.
CR: So, can you explain to me what moved you to write this new book?
TL: I started writing it when I divorced my wife, and I guess it was sort of inspired by the experience of that and the feeling of sort of going from person to person, especially in romantic relationships, and just wondering what the purpose of it is.
CR: The purpose of being in a romantic relationship?
TL: Yeah, and, like, what’s the purpose of being with people if you don’t like to be with them. And you prefer to be alone most of the time.
CR: Correct me if I’ve made a vast understatement about your work, but the impression I get is that the characters in this novel are drawn to each other because they prefer to be on drugs with other people than on drugs alone.
TL: Well, not really. I mean, that’s definitely part of it, but also it’s just nice to have someone next to you to hear what you have to say. And to touch, if you feel like it.
CR: And this physical, visceral connection is a recurring motif in Taipei. The characters have an intense desire to, if you will, consume, or ingest, as you have put it in your book, not only the drugs but also the social interactions. And oftentimes it seems like the social scene and the drugs are unsatisfactory, or that they offer more pain than reward. What is it that keeps pulling these characters back into their world of cheap thrills? I see you’re sweating.
TL: Um. It’s just. I’m not sure I understand the question.
CR: This Paul character, for example. He often feels bad on the drugs, or the drugs negatively affect his time spent sober. Why does he keep at it? Is he simply an addict?
TL: Uh… can we talk about something else. Like, ask me another question.
CR: Certainly. You use some colorful metaphors in the novel that I quite enjoyed. For example, at one point Paul’s young friend Maggie does some sit-ups, which you suggest make her look like a “notorious, performing snail.” Where do you get the ideas for these off-beat descriptions? Now, hold on Tao, please put the pill bottle down.
TL: This isn’t live. Can’t you just turn off the camera for a minute?
The whole is thing is good (aside from his self-congratulatory pseudo-intellectual name-dropping shit), but I would have given it a good score based o...moreThe whole is thing is good (aside from his self-congratulatory pseudo-intellectual name-dropping shit), but I would have given it a good score based on "Count Dracula" alone.
Also great is "A Twenties Memories", a version of Midnight in Paris wherein most everyone is a pretentious idiot. It has a few hilarious lines.
"Gris was provincially Spanish, and Gertrude Stein used to say that only a true Spaniard could behave as he did; that is, he would speak Spanish and sometimes return to his family in Spain. It was really quite marvellous to see."
"Picasso was a short man who had a funny way of walking by putting one foot in front of the other until he would take what he called "steps." We laughed at his delightful notions, but toward the late 1930s, with fascism on the rise, there was very little to laugh about."(less)
It's pretty bad; even a superficial reading can discern that. Whereas Ham on Rye is a touching novel about growing up in unfortunate conditions, and Fa...moreIt's pretty bad; even a superficial reading can discern that. Whereas Ham on Rye is a touching novel about growing up in unfortunate conditions, and Factotum is a wise novel about scraping a living out of nothing, Women is just about Bukowski having not been laid for four years, and his subsequent thrill about getting laid after making some money off of his first novels. It all has a very immature veneer to it; Bukowski runs back to his readers and shows off his spoils in love, spoils which are almost assuredly more impressive than those attained by his readers; why else would they be reading Bukowski?
The occasional Bukowski wisdom that shines through isn't enough to make up for the boring carnality of the plot.(less)