V.L. Hartmann reflects on Joan Didion after seeing her on the street.
For some of us, mimicking Joan Didion has become the height of literary ambition, and not just her sentences. “Goodbye to All That” is a jumping-off point, California will fall short of its promise, but there is always Hawaii, and a penthouse, even when you are broke. There is a husband across the hall in his own study in your house in Malibu while you write. This is the Joan Didion who is forever leaning out of that Stingray with a cigarette in her hand. She appeared to be living in her sentences, and it was this intimacy that took me everywhere that she had been, even in the decades before I was born. The text might say it was hard, but the style makes it look easy.
Monday, November 30, 2009
V.L. Hartmann reflects on Joan Didion after seeing her on the street.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
- 100 Notable Books of 2009 from The New York Times
- Oddly Specific: The Strangely Particular Website About Peculiarly Exacting Signs (via @GreatDismal)
- So you have invented Twitter. Congratulations. This is where that time machine would definitely have come in quite handy.
- Mary Gaitskill, Lionel Shriver, Walter Kirn, and others contribute to New York Magazine's Political Fictions Project.
- LA Weekly's Post-Apocalyptic Playlist
- What does indie mean to you?
- Rick Moody starts his 153-tweet fiction project tomorrow @ElectricLit.
- The AV Club's 10 best short-story collections of the ’00s
- No duh: Jack White is The Observer's rock 'n roll start of the decade (via @largeheartedboy)
- The Guardian's Best Books of 2009
- Make sure you have some time: The 99 Most Jaw-Dropping Movie Moments
Posted by escapegrace at 9:53 AM
Friday, November 27, 2009
Every year, the LADWP hosts a bizarrely retro light show along a road through a golf course at Griffith Park. Yesterday, I made a Thanksgiving morning pilgrimage in order to take some photos. The whole collection can be seen here, but below are some of my favorites.
Posted by escapegrace at 12:59 PM
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
- Nick Cave joins nine other writers on the Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award.
- LA Weekly's Top Ten List of Major Stars Covering Other People's Music
- 1000 Awesome Things
- McSweeney's offers standards for grading the life of an adjunct composition professor.
- Three Guys One Book is just what it says.
- The 25 Greatest Coens Movie Moments
- I wish I had been at this Jesus Lizard show.
- Top 10 Bad Messages from Good Movies
- From Neatorama, 13 Examples of Literature in Song and from Flavorwire, Writers Who Sing, Singers Who Write
- Check out Google Image Swirl.
- NYC's Best New Buildings of the Decade
- Jack White and Wanda Jackson are going to make an album together!
- I never got around to posting this when it came out, but behold: the four-part Paste feature, "Glory Days: Dispatches From an Academic Conference on Bruce Springsteen."
Posted by escapegrace at 10:10 AM
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Zadie Smith wonders what essays offer to a novelist:
Within the confines of an essay or – even better! – an aphorism, you can be the writer you dream of being. No word out of place, no tell-tale weak spots (dialogue, the convincing representation of other people, plot), no absences, no lack. I think it's the limits of the essay, and of the real, that truly attract fiction writers. In the confined space of an essay you have the possibility of being wise, of making your case, of appearing to see deeply into things – although the thing you're generally looking into is the self. "Other people", that mainstay of what Shields calls the "moribund conventional novel", have a habit of receding to a point of non-existence in the "lyrical essay."
These are all satisfactions the practice of writing novels is most unlikely to provide for you. Perfect essays abound in this world – almost every one of Joan Didion's fits the category. Perfect novels, as we all know, are rarer than Halley's comet. And so, for a writer, composing an essay instead of a novel is like turning from staring into a filthy, unfathomable puddle to looking through a clear glass windowpane. How perfectly it fits the frame! How little draught passes through!
Posted by escapegrace at 4:07 PM
The New York Times looks at the indie music scene in Greece.
One factor in Athens’s downtown indie transformation was a recent explosion of free press in the city. Five years ago, there was only The Athens Voice, an alternative weekly that then had a meager listings section and only a few pages devoted to the arts.
But along came Velvet (www.velvetmagazine.gr), a free monthly first published in 2004 by the Athens-born brothers Lakis and Aris Ionas, who run a veritable do-it-yourself culture factory out of their fourth-floor downtown studio.
In addition to running the magazine, devoted entirely to the local indie scene, the Ionases have an art collective, a fashion line (their mother sews all their futuristic neon-colored metallic wool creations), and an art-punk band called the Callas. The group has self-released two albums and performed throughout Europe — often in homemade spandex Superman costumes — with the Callasettes, their five “laboratory-made groupies.” Following Velvet, many other locally focused free publications, like Lifo, FAQ, Don’t Panic Athens and Ozon, which has an English-language Web site (www.ozonweb.com/en), have sprung up.
Posted by escapegrace at 4:00 PM
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
- Orhan Pamuk, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kate Christensen, and Margaret Atwood - among other luminaries - explain how to write a great novel.
- Make Your Own Academic Sentence
- New York magazine thinks these 40 songs define "the Brooklyn sound."
- Jacket Copy reprints the 1958 LA Times review of Lolita.
- Martin Scorcese joins me in thinking The Shining is superlatively scary, but he also nominates 10 other scariest horror movies of all time, skewing classic.
- I've started following Roger Ebert on Twitter (@ebertchicago) and he's got the good links, including the one above, Famous Authors Narrate the Funny Pages, the world's worst jobs, and a cookbook written by Nelson Algren.
- Also always great for links, birthday boy @largeheartedboy: the 50 most despicable Oscar snubs of the 2000s and the craziest international bootleg superheroes.
- And for complete and utter listmania, check out Paste's Best of the Decade lists, with everything from breweries to fashion designers.
Posted by escapegrace at 9:45 AM
Friday, November 06, 2009
Lizzie Skurnick weighs in on the all-male Publishers Weekly top ten.
Before I continue, let me borrow a phrase from the majority and say that some of my best friends are men. Some of my best friends are male writers. There are many men I love, many male writers I love, and many loves counted by me among writers of the male persuasion.
But that said, I, female, longtime book critic, longtime lover of males, writers, and male writers, must nonetheless point out an inconvenient truth: It has been a very strong two years for female writers and a weak two years for male ones, and the fact that the latter have garnered unseemly armfuls of praise and prizes for their tepid output is a scandal.
Posted by escapegrace at 8:35 AM
Thursday, November 05, 2009
The Smart Set excerpts a new translation of Kierkegaard's Repetition.
The older one gets, the better he understands life and the more he comes to care for and appreciate comfort. In short, the more competent one becomes, the less content. One will never be completely, absolutely and in every way content, and it is hardly worth the trouble to be more or less content, so one might as well be thoroughly discontented. Anyone who has really thought through the issue, will agree with me that no one is ever granted even as little as a half an hour out of his entire life where he is absolutely content in every conceivable way. It goes without saying that more is required for this sort of contentment than that one has food and clothing. I was close to achieving it once...
Posted by escapegrace at 7:25 PM
Sunday, November 01, 2009
- I've been telling people for awhile now how I fantasized about opening a decadent foodie restaurant in Echo Park, and I had drooled over a newly vacant property. Who beats me to it? A raw food/vegan joint. Sigh.
- How to Write Badly Well
- Enter at your own risk: Largehearted Boy's Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Online Music Lists
- Jeanette Winterson adores the night.
- The 10 Worst Food Trends? Really?
- NaNoWriMo starts today!
- M. Ward and Okkervil River were on Austin City Limits last night.
- Ten Delightfully Creepy Etsy Finds for Halloween and All Year 'Round
- I saw Paranormal Activity yesterday, which could have been much scarier with a few replaced scenes and a completely different ending. This led to a conversation of the scariest films ever. For me, it's The Shining hands down. On that note, one opinion on the 10 most terrifying scenes ever filmed.
Posted by escapegrace at 12:01 PM