Over at Alex on Film I’ve posted my notes on two adaptations of Herman Koch’s novel The Dinner, the first an Italian production and the second American. Despite being the sort of material that I would have thought highly adaptable, neither film is a great success. The Italian version is, however, not without some interest.
Call it the Trump Effect. Or another Trump Effect. Over at Goodreports I’ve added a review of Gavin Esler’s The United States of Anger, which came out in 1997. In fact, I remember Esler’s book as being one of the very first to cross my desk when I started reviewing on a regular basis. I didn’t review it at the time, but some of its arguments stuck in my head. When I came across it again recently, cleaning up some books in the basement, I started flipping through it and, given all that’s happened in the two decades since, I thought it was worth re-examining.
As I point out in my review, this is not the way it usually works with timely political books. They’re almost always forgotten a few months after publication. But with the Trump phenomenon I think it’s interesting to go back and looks at these studies of the world BT (Before Trump) and see what, in retrospect, they might tell us about what was coming. Much the same thinking was behind my revisiting of my review of John Filion’s book on Doug Ford, The Only Average Guy. At least in terms of politics and the media, Trump really changed the game. But should we have seen him coming? Did we?
Seth, Clyde Fans
BookShelf Cafe eBar May 15, 2019:
Technically speaking this wasn’t a “reading” since Seth writes graphic novels and I’ve never heard of, nor can I quite imagine, what a public reading of a comic would be.
It was, however, a great session. It began with Seth giving some of his personal thoughts about how he imagines the afterlife and how those thoughts have found expression in various recurring motifs in his art. This was followed by a short film, a conversation with Eric Allen Montogomery, and some Q&A.
There was a good crowd, filling the eBar. I was wondering if it could be described as hipsterish, but then figured it skewed a bit too old for that. Later, however, Seth would describe himself as being like an old hipster, so I figured I may have been right. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Even if you weren’t a student of such things (and I’m not), or a big fan of Seth (and I am) this was the kind of talk you could easily have taken a couple of pages of notes on. In addition to offering revealing insights specific to his own life and work Seth talked, among other things, about the growing critical and public acceptance of graphic novels in the twenty-first century and the place of his own generation of artists in that development, how comics mean (that is, how they’re created and read), and the making or presentation of an identify in or through fictional characters.
These are all subjects I’m sure Seth has been over many times, but the evening didn’t seem scripted at all. It was informative throughout, but informal and relaxed. As well as being enjoyable I also felt like I learned a lot and it made me look forward to Clyde Fans all the more.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching some of the Death Wish movies. It’s almost a complete list. I guess the first film is of some historical/sociological interest, and if you’re interested in the whole rape–revenge genre they might even be considered essential viewing, but I didn’t find much of value in any of them.
Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the films of Yorgos Lanthimos. Even though they don’t share many similarities, I was reminded of Denis Villeneuve in at least one respect. Both directors have, in my estimation, made one really good film (Villeneuve’s Enemy and Lanthimos’s The Lobster). Their other films fall more into the “interesting” category. Anyway, here’s the Lanthimos line-up:
Over at the Canadian Notes & Queries website my review of John Metcalf’s The Canadian Short Story has been posted. It’s a review that turns into an essay on the increase in socially aware literary criticism we’re presently experiencing, and how that has in turn pushed Metcalf’s brand of aesthetic criticism to the margins.
Tim Conley, Collapsible and Amy Spurway, Crow
BookShelf, April 23 2019:
Even though there were two authors on tap (and there were supposed to be three but the third couldn’t make it) this reading wasn’t held in the eBar but at the back of the bookstore. Which is cozier (there were only fifteen chairs) but not the greatest place to be for sound. The authors didn’t have mics and you could hear all the plates rattling and orders being called from the kitchen of the restaurant just next to us, which meant you really had to pay attention.
That said, both authors read well and chose good material. Conley (whose first book, Whatever Happens, I reviewed thirteen years ago, which made me feel old) read a short story that was short enough, and made use of enough repetitive language, to let the audience see the pattern being drawn — something that isn’t easy to do at a reading. Spurway read from the beginning of her novel, which worked well because it’s told in the first person and the narrator is playing with different ways of introducing herself. So it’s a natural way to introduce the book.
This was one of the more enjoyable readings I’ve been to lately. It was informal (they didn’t even have anyone to introduce them!) and quick. The questions from the floor were good and received some interesting answers. All done in about half an hour. Time well spent.