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Showing posts from January, 2011

Lars and the Real Girl: A Funky Film with a Sex Doll But Not a Single Sex Scene

Is it believable that an emotionally repressed young man so psychologically clouded with unresolved grief (his parents died in the not-so-distant past) could purchase a life-size sex doll apparently 100% anatomically accurate and fall in love with her/it and so delude himself into believing they do indeed have a "real relationship" involving everthing (including communication) but not ... sex?  Probably not.  And what's even more unbelievable:  that a young man could purchase a sex doll and not have sex with it/her, or that he could buy her and believe her to be real female flesh and blood?  I don't know, but thankfully, since I really liked this movie despite its implausibility (the plot's plausibility is, after all, not a critical point here); what's critical is that we suspend belief, because no way in hay does an entire town go along with his ridiculous delusion in our so-called real world universe of "reality".

I found in Lars and the Real Gir…

Malcolm Lowry's Volcano: Myth, Symbol, Meaning by David Markson

In 1951, David Markson, of eventual Wittgenstein's Mistress renown, wrote his 30,000 word master's thesis on Under the Volcano.  Nothing substantive at that time, only four years removed from Under the Volcano's publication, had been written on it, except for, well, Markson's thesis.  Lowry liked what Markson wrote about his novel.  And the two became fast friends the final years of Lowry's life; and Malcolm, when he was sober enough, which unfortunately wasn't very often, mentored David Markson's then burgeoning literary/academic career.

In 1978, Markson went back to his old thesis, saw what was lacking therein, saw how much more he still had to say about the Volcano, and turned his master's thesis into a book of insightful criticism upon it.

Sven Birkerts writes a perceptive and incisive introduction to Malcolm Lowry's Volcano that gets to the real meat and bones of the Volcano's doomed protagonist, the Consul's — Geoffrey Firmin's — …

Incomplete Yammering on some Provocative Plays, Including Peter Handke's Offending the Audience

Plays generally just don't do it for me. They've got to have thatDeath of a Salesman kind of ooomphish profundity and power to quicken my blood. That's a play moves me deeply.


Drinks Before Dinner, by E.L. Doctorow, was another play that held my attention the way most plays don't. Imagine attending a dinner party in honor of a local politician, surrounded by friends (at least you thought everyone seated around you was your friend!) and one of the dinner guests shows up with a gun! Shows up, to the shock of his wife, with his own pathetic power tripping political agenda of possible violence and bloodshed ... It's particularly harrowing and relevant reading Drinks Before Dinner in light of recent tragic events in Tucson, involving Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  Too painfully relevant, perhaps, too real, but undeniably powerful, Drinks Before Dinner.



So, few plays move me, right? It's part of my problem as well navigating the historical drama by Friedri…

A Brief Examination of Malcolm Lowry's Volcano: Myth, Symbol, Meaning by David Markson

I've been going through a lot of non-fiction introductions recently because I got a slew of titles in "Barnes & Noble's Rediscoveries" series over the Holidays in their bargain bins for $2.48 each.  Woo hoo!  They are: A Barthes Reader, edited by Susan Sontag; Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being, by Ted Hughes;

On Moral Fiction by John Gardner; and lastly, a pretty rare find I about fainted upon seeing (I couldn't believe it was sitting all alone in a freaking B&N bargain bin:)Malcolm Lowry's Volcano: Myth, Symbol, Meaning by David Markson.

In 1951, Markson, of eventual Wittgenstein's Mistress fame -- a short novel of two or three line observations made by a mysterious (has she lost her marbles or is she just lost?) character whom we're never quite sure is sane or not, as she believes she's the last person alive on the planet -- wrote his 30,000 word master's thesis on Under the Volcano.  Nothing substantive at that t…

Random Quote & Observations Reading David Foster Wallace's, The Broom of the System

David Foster Wallace describes a kiss, through the eyes of Rick Vigorous, as only DFW possibly could, in The Broom of the System ...

"Her lips are full and red and tend to wetness and do not ask but rather demand, in a pout of liquid silk, to be kissed. I kiss them often, I admit it, it is what I do, I am a kisser, and a kiss with Lenore is, if I may indulge a bit for a moment here, not so much a kiss as it is a dislocation, a removal and rude transportation of essence from self to lip, so that it is not so much two human bodies coming together and doing the usual things with their lips as it is two sets of lips spawned together and joined in kind from the beginning of post-Scarsdale time, achieving full ontological status only in subsequent union and trailing behind and below them, as they join and become whole, two now utterly superfluous fleshly bodies, drooping outward and downward like the tired stems of overblossomed flora, trailing shoes on the ground, husks. A …

Jesus' Son: Stories by Denis Johnson

I've always been drawn to intensely literate depictions of squandered lives in various states of disrepair via the chemical catalysts of substances and/or booze.  Whether it's Leaving Las Vegas -- in my mind as bleak and brilliant as Malcolm Lowry's bacchanalian masterpiece, Under the Volcano -- or PermanentMidnight; or, even, going back a ways (a couple centuries or so) to Thomas De Quincey's, Confessionsof an English Opium-Eater, I'm always moved by the emotional and psychological rawness of the harrowing accounts -- and reminded -- by these addict's sad stories, of the kind of person I'm glad I'm not (knock on wood) and never hope to be, again.



Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son: Stories(1992), for me, is as close to being high on dope that one can become from merely ingesting words and sentences and paragraphs through one's eyes and, if read aloud, ears.  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas doesn't come close to Jesus' Son's acute halluci…

"Racetrack Meditation" by Peter Weissman

"Racetrack Meditation" works quite well as a stand alone short story, though it's taken from Peter Weissman's second metamemoir, Digging Deeper: A Memoir of the Seventies.  In this self-deprecating, humorous piece on what goes on inside the racetrack bettor's mind (or at least in one racetrack bettor's mind) we see a mind tapping into its Jewish mystical roots and hippie-era magical thinking, while simultaneously attempting to empty his mind along Buddhist sensibilities, all in an effort to win the bet, to pick the right horse, to walk away from the racetrack richer.  So, does tapping into his eclectic philosophy's mantras induce him to make the winning pick?  Regardless, the story is a winning metaphor on just how damn difficult it is to make important decisions sometimes ...


click on the image to buy the book


"RACETRACK MEDITATION" by Peter Weissman



On Check Day, after delivering the ghetto routes, I’d drive the half-ton truck away from those s…