Thursday, January 27, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
From the Reader's Guide interview published in the Kindle edition of "A Widow for One Year:"
In terms of understanding the effect of my novels, I learn much more from the letters readers write to me than I do from book reviews. You don't read a book the way a reader reads a book when you know you're going to write about it. I know -- I've been a reviewer, too, after all."Emotionally inscrutable" is a notion obviously closely related to several versions of the hip and the cool; the roots of which Greil Marcus finds in the "deadpan" tone that defines a lot of American culture. Although "Widow" has three major characters who are novelists, with sections ot eh their work interpolated, Irving is not arch or arms-length enough to qualify as a post-modern writer. But he definitely wants the pipes and girders of his story-building to be a visible part of the experience, and he's not above waving and pointing if he thinks there's a chance we'll miss them. ("A John Irving novel is not subtle," he says.) Not po-mo, then, but perhaps a literary adaptation of the architectural style known as Structural Expressionism, which puts its beams and wiring in plain sight.
HG: You are often accused of being a sentimentalist…
JI: I've already defined the word by admitting that it is my intention, as a novelist, to move you to laughter and tears, and that I use the language to persuade you emotionally, not intellectually. In Great Expectations, Dickens wrote: "Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlaying our hard hearts." But we are ashamed of our tears. We live at a time when critical taste tells us that to be soft-hearted is akin to doltishness; we're so influenced by the junk on television and in the movies that even in reacting against it we overreact -- we conclude that any attempt to move an audience to laughter and tears is shameless crowd-pleasing, is akin to sitcom or soap opera or melodrama.
To the modern critic, when a writer risks being sentimental, the writer is already guilty. But, for a writer, it is craven to so fear sentimentality that one avoids it altogether. To be emotionally inscrutable has become a predictable fingerprint of the "literary" author. I wouldn't want to be married to someone who was C. Who would ever want to be in a relationship like that? Well, I don't want a novelist to be emotionally inscrutable, either. In a novel, sentimental risks are essential; concealing one's emotions is a form of political correctness, which is a kind of cowardice.
Modernism in literature upholds the theory that a novel can be a patternless mess (without a plot) because real life is like that. Well, good novels, in my view, are better made than real life. ... Great stories are constructed -- they have a structure.
Also occurs to me that the controversial innovations in criticism in the 1970s (Kael, Marcus) were partly aimed at persuding critics to be readers (or moviegoers) first.
And of course we also spurn arms-length and/or emotionally inscrutable music.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
On the 720 Express bus on Wilshire this morning, I was one of three people reading something on a Kindle. The other two were rather younger than myself, either college age or not long past it. The 720 may not offer a representative sample because it's a direct line to UCLA, but still, it leads me question the view that only old people are using these devices because only old people still read.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Doctor to Marry His Own Daughter, Create Rift in Time and Space
BBC America has announced that David Tennant is engaged to Georgia Moffett. Tennant very popularly played the 10th incarnation of The Doctor on BBC’s long-running Doctor Who. Moffett played his daughter (actually a quasi-clone based on his DNA) in one episode during his tenure. As if that wasn’t strange enough, Moffett is also the real-life daughter of Peter Davison, who played the 5th incarnation of The Doctor. Whether or not you can wrap your head around the space-time implications, we certainly wish them well!
From personable "LA Weekly" film critic Karina Longworth.
10. ENTER THE VOID - Gaspar Noé
9. THE GHOST WRITER - Roman Polanski
8. SHUTTER ISLAND - Martin Scorsese
7. EVERYONE ELSE - Maren Ade
6. THE RED CHAPEL - Mads Brügger
5. SOMEWHERE - Sofia Coppola
4. DOGTOOTH - Giorgos Lanthimos
3. DADDY LONGLEGS - Josh and Benny Safdie
2. GREENBERG - Noah Baumbach
1. TRASH HUMPERS - Harmonie Korine
Breaking my silence to pass on a dare:
Make a resolution to read only the books in your To Be Read stack for as long as you can in 2011. Start on New Year's Day and see how long you last.
To enter just leave a link to your blog in a comment on the registration post. Post one of the buttons here on your blog as well. Please link back to this page to help spread the word.
Monday, January 3, 2011
1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Animal Kingdom
4. I Am Love
6. True Grit
7. The Town
10. Enter The Void (“Hands down best credit scene of the year … Maybe best credit scene of the decade. One of the greatest in cinema history.”)
And the runners up are:
11. Kick Ass
12. Knight and Day
13. Get Him To The Greek
14. The Fighter
15. The Kings Speech
16. The Kids Are All Right
17. How To Train Your Dragon
18. Robin Hood
20. Jackass 3-D
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Writing stories was not easy. When they were turned into words, projects withered on the paper and ideas and images failed. How to reanimate them? Fortunately, the masters were there, teachers to learn from and examples to follow. Flaubert taught me that talent is unyielding discipline and long patience. Faulkner, that form – writing and structure – elevates or impoverishes subjects. Martorell, Cervantes, Dickens, Balzac, Tolstoy, Conrad, Thomas Mann, that scope and ambition are as important in a novel as stylistic dexterity and narrative strategy. Sartre, that words are acts, that a novel, a play, or an essay, engaged with the present moment and better options, can change the course of history. Camus and Orwell, that a literature stripped of morality is inhuman, and Malraux that heroism and the epic are as possible in the present as is the time of the Argonauts, the Odyssey, and the Iliad.
-- Mario Vargas Llosa, Stockholm, December 7, 2010