I had to explain what Slaughterhouse 90210 is to two different people today at the Downtown Book Festival. Why I am the guy people ask these things I will never know.
84. The Toilers of the Sea by
The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.
“Zola… calls down the wrath of God in Germinal. He does not commit himself politically to future revolutionary action, or predict its likely success or failure. Nor does he choose between seeing revolution as an unfinished struggle continuous with the events of 1789, or as a cycle of oppression and rebellion that will repeat itself endlessly through history for as long as the human race inhabits the Earth. For all their specificity, his characters assume mythical status as he projects them against the backdrop of the ravaged Earth. Germinal, in our own generation, is more than a realist (or naturalist) novelistic record of the historical exploitation of miners; more than a progress report on the working-class struggle against the psychic and economic effects of capitalism in 19th-century France; more even than a testament to the revolutionary heritage that continued to disrupt the French nation for many decades after Robespierre had breathed his last beneath the guillotine in 1794 (10 Thermidor, Year II). Beyond all these substantial claims on our attention, Germinal is a parable of the love–hate relationship human beings have with the Earth: the death-rattle rings through it, in counterpoint to the urge we all have, until the moment of our death, to go on living.” — Ruth Scurr
82. Tenth of December by
83. Widowers’ Houses by
Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Vector illustration 2011. American comedian Bill Cosby.
80. Ripley’s Game by
81. Vera; Or, the Nihilists by
The Conversation (1974/dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
There wasn’t a single item of importance [in the newspaper]. A tower of illusion, all of it, made of illusory bricks and full of holes. If life were made up only of important things, it really would be a dangerous house of glass, scarcely to be handled carelessly. But everyday life was exactly like the headlines. And so everybody, knowing the meaninglessness of existence, sets the center of his compass at his own home.
—Kōbō Abe, The Woman in the Dunes
“Abe is an accomplished stylist. He was apt to frame his novels in “found” notebooks or other written artefacts, and The Woman in the Dunes closes with the missing persons report mentioned on its first page. It includes a page or two of its protagonist’s jottings to himself; a dream, a hallucinatory flashback here and there, but the structure is simple and linear. The language — has the clarity of a parable… For this reader, the novel flaunts its symbolic and literal point and counter-point in its title. The woman is the animate; the mortal; the flesh; the impetus for sex; consolation in the cell of the unendurable. The dunes are the inanimate; the eternal; what confines us; the unendurable itself… As we read about the man’s predicament, existentially speaking, we are reading about our own.” — David Mitchell