Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short star as the title characters, 3 silent screen stars who are mistaken for real heroes by a small Mexican village and must find a way to live up to that reputation:
Marjorie Perloff’s response to Matvei Yankelevich’s open letter at the Los Angeles Review of Books
Gerald Bruns’s review of Charles Bernstein’s Attack of the Difficult Poems & David Antin’s Radical Coherency at Jacket2
2:40 pm • 16 July 2012 • 1 note
“I sit on a shaded bench, close my eyes, and simply listen to the speech of people passing by. I love the sound of Portuguese, I really do—it’s more than music to my ears. It’s such an indefinably delicious sonic feast that I imagine I’m falling from the clouds.
But for all my infatuation with the language, I do have a complaint—oh, do I—the kind of complaint that insists on calling bread, bread.
The Portuguese swallow their syllables.
It’s almost a national pastime. They can take a perfectly fine sentence and, when they speak, reduce it to a half or a third of its original length. When it comes to spoken Portuguese, what you don’t hear is as important as what you do. Estas certo!—You’re right—becomes Sta cert! A 50 percent linguistic reduction is impressive, but when Eu estou—I am—can be snipped to something that sounds like tou, we’re talking a 75 percent drop in syllabic reality. I imagine that if the Portuguese dictionary were written as the language is truly spoken, the book would be the size of a pamphlet listing the late-blooming flowers of North African mountaintops.”
—from Philip Graham’s The Moon Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon, our free ebook for July
7:20 am • 5 July 2012 • 3 notes
The book is in its way a paean to the Venezuelan llano, or plain. I am a son of the Llano Estacado myself, but Gallegos’s plain is nothing like mine. In one of his rivers, for example, is a giant one-eyed alligator; this beast is said to be centuries old and can eat horses, bulls, or anything that wanders near. And, if one escapes this monster, there is the Great Bog, a bottomless swamp that swallows up any creature that attempts it.
Unlike the austere plain I grew up on, Gallegos’s llano is steamy, tumescent, lust driven. Doña Barbara may have been a kind of anticipation of Eva Perón. She owns a great ranch, the Altamira, but must struggle constantly to keep it. She is, in her way, a tragic heroine, seeking to attract a decent lover, while giving herself day and night to very coarse lovers indeed.
She is, however, very vividly drawn, a Bovary of the llano.
— Larry McMurtry, from his Foreword to Rómulo Gallegos’s Doña Bárbara
12:12 pm • 15 June 2012 • 1 note
Before there was Dodie Bellamy, chronicling insular lit-world gossip and the sexual- politic of the text via the epistles of Mina Harker, there was another hybrid form: the American radio drama. Complicated cast politics, genre fiction, and the aesthetics of sound dominated this theater of the mind, from the Depression to the Cold War.
The legendary ensemble behind The Mercury Theatre on the Air promoted and evolved sprawling conceptual recreations of everything from A Tale of Two Cities to John Dillinger biopics, largely under the helm of cofounder Orson Welles (War of the Worlds, right?).
Somewhere in America, I have to think that Dodie would be just as into Agnes Moorehead’s star-turn as Mina Harker as I am:
Dracula by Bram Stoker (aired July 11, 1938)
Cast: Orson Welles (Dr. John Seward, Count Dracula), Elizabeth Fuller (Lucy Westenra), George Coulouris (Jonathan Harker), Agnes Moorehead (Mina Harker), Martin Gabel (Dr. Van Helsing), Ray Collins (Russian Captain), Karl Swenson (Mate).
More in Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama by Neil Verma
11:43 am • 15 June 2012 • 6 notes
The New Yorker on Jane Austen’s celebrity aura: how Blow-Up-style exposure frames our would-be thirteen-year-old Jane with some young-adult #realtalk.
More in Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures by Claudia L. Johnson | |
1:41 pm • 13 June 2012 • 4 notes
Pure Products of America Go Crazy
(First summer comes, and he’s the only one I ever feel like reading—)
“The greatest work of the twentieth century will be that of those who are placing literature on a plane superior to philosophy and science. Present day despairs of life are bred of the past triumphs of these latter. Literature will lay truth open upon a higher level. If I can have a part in that enterprise, I shall be extremely contented. It will be an objective synthesis of chosen words to replace the common dilatoriness with stupid verities with which everyone is familiar. Reading will become an art also. Living in a backward country, as all which are products of the scientific and philosophic centuries must be, I am satisfied, since I prefer not to starve, to live by the practice of medicine, which combines the best features of both science and philosophy with that imponderable and enlightening element, disease, unknown in its normality to either. But, like Pasteur, when he was young, or anyone else who has something to do, I wish I had more money for my literary experiments.”
William Carlos Williams, c. 1931
If you share an affinity for Williams’ four-diver white prose under the summer sun (“So I come again to my present day gyrations”), you’ll find him (or discussions of his work) here:
Paterson, Book V: The River of Heaven, in The Open Door: One Hundred Poems, One Hundred Years of Poetry Magazine, edited by Don Share and Christian Wiman
“Projective Verse” and “The Practice” in The Poet’s Work: 29 Poets on the Origins and Practice of Their Art, edited by Reginald Gibbons
“The Breughel Museum of William Carlos Williams,” discussed in Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery, by James A. W. Heffernan
“The Beast in Pain: Abjection and Aggression in Archilochus and William Carlos Williams,” discussed in The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination, by Mark Payne
3:47 pm • 1 June 2012 • 4 notes
“James Marcus, now an editor at Harper’s Magazine, sees a particular irony in Amazon’s entry into book publishing. ‘When I first worked at Amazon in the mid 1990s,’ he recalls, ‘we were advised to think of publishers as our partners. I believe this directive was in earnest. But even then, a creeping contempt for the publishing industry was sometimes discernible. Weren’t they stodgy traditionalists, who relied on rotary phones and a Depression-era business model? Well, the company is now a bona-fide trade publisher. There’s no predicting how these books will fare, especially with many retailers refusing to sell them (an embargo that won’t, of course, affect e-book sales, where Amazon still rules the roost). But Bezos may now discover that cutting out the middleman isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—that it’s surprisingly easy to fail in the neo-Victorian enterprise of publishing, especially when it comes to finding readers for worthy books. Perhaps it’s time for him to acquire a rotary phone, available in five retro colors and eligible for two-day Prime shipping on his very own site.’”
— Steve Wasserman, “The Amazon Effect,” in the new issue of the Nation
1:17 pm • 1 June 2012 • 2 notes
Martha Gellhorn, in a letter to her pen pal Peggy Schutze, a clergyman’s wife in Alma, Michigan, dated March 8, 1949.
Gellhorn on marriage (presumably to Ernest Hemingway):
“My own experience with said state was comparable to living in Sing-Sing, with a touch of the Iron Maiden on Nurnberg thrown in… . But you can’t tell, maybe I’ll get over that terror when I’m an old lady and marry some other dodderer and we will go happily together tomb-wards.”
12:49 pm • 21 May 2012 • 4 notes
“To recur to my ghostly frame of reference, we can say that Janeism in its past as well as its current forms allows us to foreclose the gap between Austen’s time and our own, between the dead and the living, the fictional and the real, and to occupy Austen’s novels as they are—not were—lived, in an eternal present, where they commune with her familiarly.”—from Claudia L. Johnson’s Jane Austen’s Cults and Cultures
2:38 pm • 17 May 2012 • 17 notes
“A Naked Singularity, Sergio De La Pava’s first novel, fizzes like an overstuffed Roman candle launched over New York City’s downtown criminal court. It explodes. And for those with a taste for fiction that is the antithesis of economical writing — writing that speaks a lush language of the cosmic heart that frequently veers off-road from its central goofy two-public-defenders-pull-off-the-perfect-caper-ripping-off-high-end-drug-dealers plot into long dialogues about justice, cosmology, physics, mathematics, spirituality, entropy, boxing (I could go on, and De La Pava does go on) — it’s worth it.”
— Barry Wightman, editor of Hunger Mountain, in the Washington Independent Review of Books
12:25 pm • 17 May 2012 • 1 note