- He Cared Too Much Stories by John O’Hara. The Library of America. 860 pp. $40.00
John O’Hara was an Irish Catholic and doctor’s son from Eastern Pennsylvania who believed—apparently for much of his life—that he would have been a happy man if he had just gone to Yale. That didn’t keep him from getting booted from three prep schools, one ... Read more
- The Wonder of Women Wonder Woman a film by Patty Jenkins. With Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright ***1/2
Arrival a film by Denis Villeneuve. With Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker *****
A Quiet Passion a film by Terence Davies. With Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle, Duncan Duff ***
I’m as happy as everyone else that we finally have a movie about ... Read more
- Pip Pip Hooray! Purity by Jonathan Franzen. Picador. 598 pp. $17.00. *****
I had an odd and unique experience reading Purity. I got slightly bogged down in the book’s first section, which focuses on the title character; her name is Purity but she goes by Pip. She seemed clueless and helpless, living with a collection of strange roommates, burdened ... Read more
- Alcoholics Preposterous Colossal a film by Nacho Vigalondo. With Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell. *???
There’s a mind state called suspension of disbelief, where we overlook an unlikely aspect of a work of art because it is a premise of what we’re watching. The idea that James Bond would always do the right thing at the right ... Read more
- What’s Your Name, a film by Makato Shinkai, based on his novel. With Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita.
I’ve been reading Kobun Chino’s commentary on the Song of Awakening, and the day before I saw this film read the following passage: “When the body of all the buddhas penetrates my nature there is interpenetration and fusion. My nature ... Read more
- Old Corn-Drinking Mellifluous Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner. 315 pp. $15.95
I’m obsessed with the subject of telling stories. I’ve spoken before about how all stories are false, or all stories true; they are, in any case, human fabrications, which may have little to do with what actually happened. We love them nevertheless. Human beings tell each other stories, ... Read more
- Beckett in the Bardo The Unnamable from Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. Grove Press. 407 pp. $15.95.
The mystery of Samuel Beckett continues, at least for me. Some months back, when I had finally tackled his Three Novels—which had been sitting on my shelves for years—I finished the first two, but admitted publicly, in this space, that I gave up ... Read more
- Distinctly Praise the Years Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel R. Delany. Wesleyan/New England. 212 pp.
Every now and then I reread something by Samuel R. Delany because all of his work is intelligent, beautifully written, and unfailingly deep. The fact that I’ve read it before doesn’t in the least diminish it. I love spending time in the presence of such ... Read more
- This Movie Is About You (Put Away Your Phone) Paterson A film by Jim Jarmusch. With Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Nellie.
Every now and then people call something a Zen movie, and the candidate this year is Paterson, a film whose script Jim Jarmusch apparently wrote twenty years ago and in which almost nothing happens. A man (Adam Driver) awakens every morning ... Read more
- All Stories Are Made Up Moonglow by Michael Chabon. Harper. 430 pp. $28.00
Voss by Patrick White. Penguin. $18.00
The great Pittsburgh writer John Edgar Wideman—whom I wrote about in a recent post—once published a book entitled All Stories Are True. I thought it a brilliant and fascinating title, but it could just as easily have been All Stories Are False. Even ... Read more