sept 06

9/27/2006

UNDER-RATED SF

No critic of American literature who does not know James Tiptree Jr. can claim to be well-read. Yes, there is a briar patch, that tangle of insight and dross known as science fiction. But it can be penetrated. And there are rewards for trying. Within are to be found the gifts of a great writer.

– John Clute, in a 2002 Washington Post Book World article where science(-ish) fiction writers Thomas Disch, Kelly Link, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, John Crowley and other name the best of the genre. It’s a good mix of stuff you either haven’t heard of or have yet to get to reading.

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9/26/2006

THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP

I can’t believe the critics reviewing the Science of Sleep saw the same movie that I did this afternoon, as they are by and large treating it unfairly, like something to stuff in the junk drawer of cult cinema. Only one got it right, Dana Stevens from Slate:

Kaufman’s script gave Eternal Sunshine a universality that the intimately autobiographical Science of Sleep lacks. The stakes here are lower, since Stéphane and Stéphanie’s halting love affair feels like their love affair, not a template through which each viewer can read his own romantic past. But, like Eternal Sunshine, this movie understands something about the way lovers develop their own language, their own mythology, and, finally, their own pathology.

Of course it’s visually stunning, but it’s also very very funny. I laughed out loud several times, there are all these puns and word games, it’s as much homage to Oulipo as Jan Svankmeyer, Rube Goldeberg, and Laurel and Hardy

 

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9/11/2006

URSULA LE GUIN ON “KINGDOM COME”

She didn’t like it – but I’ve still got my copy on order. Another Guardian review is enthusiastic. One of the greatest mysteries of publishing is why-oh-why JG Ballard hasn’t got a US publisher: Millenium People, the most brilliant meditation of post-9/11 society I’ve read in fiction (published in UK in 2002,) still hasn’t become available here in the states. We are also missing out on the new print of High Rise, one of Ballard’s best 

 

There’s also a good profile in The Australian.

Not many writers’ names become adjectives but the Collins English Dictionary defines Ballardian as “suggestive of the conditions described in J.G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social and environmental developments”. This is the same J.G. Ballard whose manuscript once attracted a publishing house reader’s report: “This author is beyond psychiatric help. Do not publish.”

He’s someone whose every utterance is seized on by fans and analysed for significance. He’s both cult figure and (now) a respected man of letters. Yet the man who welcomes me into his study with grandfatherly gusto looks more like an absent-minded university professor than a don of subversion.

….

His books, he stresses, are not prophesies but “as I’ve said before, they are warnings: a man who stands at the side of a road putting out a sign saying ‘Dangerous bends ahead, slow down’ is not a pessimist.”

 

And god bless him for being prolific as hell in old age. The article is chock full of good quotes from why he never moved out of his modest Shepparton home to why CSI is such a great show, “it’s all domesticated into suburban Vegas, into the tract homes. When you think about it, the underlying message is that your suburban tract home may house a complete psycho.”

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9/8/2006

CELIA FARBER AND JAMES TIPTREE JR

I have an interview with Celia Farber in the new Bookslut, along with a review of the new biography of the inimitable James Tiptree Jr.

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WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT PAUL SALOPEK

The title to this Seattle-PI blog post says it all. The two-time Pulitzer prize winner now sits in a Sudanese jail cell, imprisoned for writing “false news” and espionage, (evidenced by the aerial maps he carried with him.) The PI links to Ken Armstrong’s Seattle Times piece, giving a great biographical sketch. He is a fearless reporter with an unusually gifted way with words. “He’s the best reporter I know,” Armstrong says. The Chicago Reader also has a good article about the Chicago Tribune’s plans to get him out of there (via Bookslut.) His trial is set for Sept 10

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9/1/2006

BOOKS COMPLETED 2006

2006

books:
May
The Blank Slate, Steven Pinker
Flow My Tears The Poiliceman Said, PK Dick
What Jung Really Said, EA Bennet
The Midnight Disease, Alice Flaherty
Omens of the Millenium, Harold Bloom
The Female Man, Joanna Russ
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
The Man Who Had No Idea, Thomas M Disch
Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky
Fake, Kenneth Walton
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell

June
Talk to the Hand, Lynne Tuss
Austerlitz, WG Sebald
Why New Orleans Matters, Tom Piazza
Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
Maus I, II, Art Speiglman
Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman I,) Neil Gaiman
Epileptic, David B
My Most Secret Desire, Julie Doucet
Sandman II, III, IV Neil Gaiman
The Disappointment Artist, Jonathan Letham
Against Love, Laura Kipnis
Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson
Stiff, Mary Roach
Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson
An Invitation to a Beheading, Nabokov

July
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
Brothel, Alexa Albert
Vermilion Sands, JG Ballard
Death, Sleep, and the Traveler, John Hawkes
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
A Stranger on Earth: The life and work of Anna Kavan, Jeremy Reed
Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart

August
Cyberiad, Stanislaw Lew
James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon, Julie Phillips
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
Serious Adverse Events, Celia Farber
Strange Piece of Paradise, Terri Jentz
Base Instinct, Jonathan Pincus
Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
On Love, Alain de Botton

September
Tantrika, Asra Nomani
The Middle Mind, Curtis White
Ubik, Philip K Dick
Shatterday, Harlan Ellison
There Will Never Be Another You, Carolyn See
Home, Witold Rybczynski

October
Kingdom Come, JG Ballard
The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton
Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
The Third Policeman, Flann O’Brien
About Looking, John Berger
Abducted, Susan Clancy
Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
City Life, Witold Rybcynski
Secondary Colors, Alexander Theroux
Primary Colors, Alexander Theroux
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl (regrettably)
Half Life, Shelley Jackson

November
Snow, Orhan Pamuk
I’m Not Stiller, Max Frisch
Confessions of a Crap Artist, Philip K Dick
The Moviegoer, Walker Percy
Perfume, Patrick Suskind
Speedboat, Reneta Adler
Julia and the Bazooka, Anna Kavan
The Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of, Thomas M. Dsch

December
Dr Bloodmoney, Philip K Dick
Laura Warholic, Alexander Theroux
Woman in the Dunes, Kobo Abe
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Murukami

films:
May
Picnic at Hanging Rock
L’Argent
After Hours
Songs from the Second Floor
Spellbound
Testament
Morvern Callar
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Army of Shadows

June
Fox and His Friends
Cries and Whispers
The Naked Kiss
An Inconvenient Truth
Wordplay
Sketchs of Frank Gehry
Three Times
Come and See
Saboteur
The War Tapes
Strangers on a Train

July
Scenes from a Marriage
The Five Obstructions
A Scanner Darkly
Match Point
The Toolbox Murders
The Brothers Grimm
Nadine in Date Land
Nobody Knows
Saraband

August
Code Unknown
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…And Spring
Marnie
Rope
World Trade Center
Hostel
Dog Day Afternoon
My Architect
Zizek
In a Year With 13 Moons

September
State of Mind
Operation Dreamland
City of God
Network
The Trip
The Passion of Anna
The Science of Sleep
Little Miss Sunshine

October
The Silence
Rebels of a Neon God
Being There
Shortbus
Marie Antoinette
Art School Confidential
Dave Chappelle’s Blockparty

December
The Weather Underground
Inland Empire
Cat People

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