Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Recommendations, from recent days

--- "Begin Again"  --- this 2014 film found on Netflix was watched here sight unseen, knowledge absent, and it was a hit.  The music was good enough, but the setting was exceptional for this viewer.  Having walked much of Manhattan for more than 30 years, having arrived on my own and ventured out, and knowing that experience was one thing.  Seeing the many locations of the film in the city was nostalgic in a way, and sort of bizarre as recognizing every location, from the lower east side to Columbus Circle(used various times in different angles and circumstances which non-New Yorkers would not recognize), to Greenwich Village areas, the film was just so next door to this viewer.  Overall the film was darn good as well, sure worth a watch if the other choice is NCIS.

---"The Alaska Of Giants and Gods", by Dave Eggers, is a short story in the 11/17 "The New Yorker".  Like David Foster Wallace, Eggers enters parts of his novels in this magazine before they are published.  In the publishing world, especially with all of the ambitious writers, that is apparently, even for the famous,  a way of making ends meet.  Readers know that his work is read here.  I read this story twice, both times finding it interesting.  I worry that like Wallace as he waned in hindsight, Egger's writing is becoming less optimistic, more downcast, even as it is still completely engaging.  This short story is amazing, indescribable.

--- "Sweet Sunday" by John Lawton is a complete mystery, murder mystery but mystery as well as to how this book came to be.  Lawton is the exceptional writer of the "Troy series" of historical fiction books focused on WWII.  His book "A Lily of the Field" was priceless, and if he was not attached to a genre could maybe have had a shot at a Man Booker prize.  It was recognized at a top 50 book by the NYT and had other awards.  "Sweet Sunday" was found on the bookshelf at the town library. What a find.  The book is historical fiction but completely incongruous.  It was published in 2002 in the U.K. but only published this month in the U.S.  Little wonder.  It is a strange book, a combination of  "Apocalypse Now", a travel through the 1960's beat generation and the hippiest generation at Woodstock, and a murder mystery to boot, this book is a morass of stories, and places, New York City and west Texas in particular.  The writing about Vietnam is a bit painful, but brilliant.  The writing about life in that time is a little on the downside.  The lament at the end underscores that as looking for meaning the main character asks for "a voice that would avert the inevitability of loss and make me feel that life must not always come down to this---the emptiness of ease, the comfort of inaction."  This is a wild book, off cue at times, but on target as well.


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