While researching Henry Roth, author of Call It Sleep, I found his obituary as it appeared in The New York Times on October 15, 1995.
One of the more curious aspects of Roth’s career, as described in the obituary, was his absence from the literary world for nearly 40 years. He wrote Call It Sleep in 1934, when he was 28 years old. The book was well-received but only sold 4,000 copies and it soon went out of print.
Roth wrote 75 pages of another novel, but eventually succumbed to “writer’s block” and never finished it. He wouldn’t write another novel until the 1970s. As The New York Times puts it:
You know Philip K. Dick, right? He’s the author of my 64th book from the Time list, Ubik. I previewed the book here.
Well, the late Dick’s fifth wife has a blog, and you don’t want to miss it.
It’s, um, interesting.
“Tell me about this blog,” you say. Well, okay.
The name of the blog is this:
You know whom I turn to when I want to know about the art of moviemaking?
Well, none other than Kim Jong-il, the late North Korean dictator.
Back in 1973, before he was a tyrannical dictator who tortured his people, disposed of the ones unfortunate to be born handicapped, and routinely threatened nuclear war, “The Dear Leader” wrote a book called On the Art of Cinema. It’s an actual book. With words.
Apparently, he was North Korea’s “culture minister” at the time—a post given to him by his father, the founding prime dictator, Kim Il-Sung. The little guy, Kim-Jong-il, was a movie buff who owned a vault of 15,000 films.
One chapter of his book is titled, “A Film Without Music is Incomplete.” Riveting stuff, this book.
With a chapter title like that, does anyone think he ghostwrote The Sot-Weed Factor? Or remember the book from the A Dance To The Music of Time series called “Books Do Furnish A Room.” Terrible.
The Amazon blurb about On The Art of Cinema sounds about as riveting as the book’s title itself:
Apparently, England has a library problem.
Budget cuts have forced their government to close hundreds of libraries since 2009. And The Library Campaign predicts 400 more will close by 2016, bringing the total to nearly 1,000.
That’s terribly sad.
During a recent lecture in London, Gaiman compared these library closures to stopping vaccination programs for children.
The Sot-Weed Factor is a book that’s difficult to appreciate. But when you do “get it,” you really appreciate it.
The novel’s style of humor reminds me of something you might see in Monty Python or The Princess Bride. It’s certainly a twisted satire.
For the life of me, though, I can’t see how this novel would ever translate to screen, big or small. It’s more than 700 pages, set in the 16th century, and includes dozens of stories within stories.
But Steven Soderbergh apparently likes a challenge. You know him as the director of the Oceans 11/12/13 movies, Traffic, Magic Mike, and a crapload of others. Earlier this year, he told Entertainment Weekly that he’ll be adapting The Sot-Weed Factor into a series containing 12 one-hour episodes.
Virginia Woolf wrote a kid’s book.
Why does that strike me as incredibly strange? It’s like if Samuel L. Jackson voiced a kids’ book called Go The F**k To Sleep. Oh, wait a minute, he did.
Or it’s like if James Joyce wrote a kid’s book called The Cats of Copenhagen. Oh, wait a minute, he did.
I’m interested how Woolf adapted (or didn’t adapt) her normal, verbose style into working for a kid’s book.
Woolf’s book, titled Nurse Lugton’s Curtain, is “a lovely allegory about the whimsical wonderland we enter as we slip into sleep.”
Let’s take a look at a couple of passages:
As I mentioned in my preview to Loving, the novel reminds me a lot of Downton Abbey.
The popular TV show was the first thing that came to mind when I read a summary of Loving’s story.
The further I get into the story, I wonder how much Downton Abbey’s creator, Julian Fellowes, was influenced by the Henry Green novel. On a surface level, he might have been.
Both stories feature:
A friend who lives in Asheville, North Carolina sent me this.
Recently, NPR’s Susan Stamberg made the rounds in Asheville while researching a piece about the time F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in the city.
While in Asheville, Fitzgerald spent some time at the famous Grove Park Inn. His time there was both sad and memorable.
A Passage To India was written in 1924. It’s the oldest book included on the Time list.
One of the problems with reading a book that old, especially a novel that has historical context, is that you need to do a little extra research if you want to understand the time in which the novel is set.
That’s especially true with A Passage To India. E.M. Forster’s novel is set during the British occupation of India, which lasted from 1858 until 1947. Forster was really ahead of his time in dealing with issues of racism and cultural bias.
I don’t watch a lot of movies.
I don’t dislike movies. But when I have a few free hours, I like to spend it in other ways. Unless it’s a movie I really want to see, like The Great Gatsby a few months ago, I tend to get bored too easily. That’s just me.
So I’m not one of those guys who watches the Academy Awards every year. In fact, I’m not sure I could give you more than two or three films that have won the Oscars off the top of my head. I just don’t keep up with it.
So it’s not surprising that I didn’t even know A Passage To India was a movie—and it’s even less surprising that I don’t remotely pretend to know that said movie won an Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director in 1984.