Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Moffie, the Movie

A film adaptation of Andre Carl van der Merwe's 2006 novel, Moffie, is now available on streaming devices; here is the Metro Weekly review. Our friend Ernie Raskauskas reminds me that he has nominated the book for our reading list three times--most recently, last year. Maybe seeing it on screen will generate more votes for the book next time? 😀

The Talented Ms. Highsmith

As we approach the 22nd anniversary of our founding (May 11, 1999), I've been spending some time perusing the long list of "Books We Have Read" (scroll down on the blog homepage for that). For example, I see that we read two novels by Patricia Highsmith in our early days: The Talented Mr. Ripley in 2000 and The Price of Salt in 2005. Over the past several months, the New York Times' T Book Club has run three essays about those novels and their film adaptations that those of you who enjoy her work should check out. In reverse chronological order, they are:

April 8: Kerry Manders considered the question, "Do Patricia Highsmith Novels Make Good Films?" 

March 24: Edmund White finds in The Talented Mr. Ripley a "Shape-Shifting Protagonist Who's Up to No Good." (Among the many things I learned is that the novel is just the first in a series of five!)

Nov. 12, 2020: Megan O'Grady explains how that novel "foretold our age of grifting."

Last but not least, in January Richard Bradford published a  biography of the novelist: Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith. Here's Wendy Smith's review in the Post.


Following up on our highly enjoyable April 7 discussion of Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey, Mark Dery's biography of the inimitable artist and writer, Octavio Roca kindly sent me the link to the Gorey Store. There, you can purchase the entire Gashleycrumb Tinies fridge magnet collection, among many other treasures. After all, you certainly don't want to end up like poor Neville!

N is for Neville who died of ennui Square Magnet - GoreyStore

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Some D.C.-based LGBTQ books worth considering

Back on March 4, the Washington Post Weekend section featured "18 books that capture the spirit and essence of living in D.C." That compilation included two titles of special interest to our demographic: George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo (which I would have nominated for our current reading list if we hadn't already had lots of choices) and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, whose cover asks, "What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?" It sounds like a hoot, so I've ordered a copy. 

Two weeks later, the Post did a follow-up based on reader feedback that includes a book our group read during its first year (October 1999): Jeb and Dash: A Diary of Gay Life, 1918-1945, edited by Ina Russell, and two we haven't (yet): Florence King's Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady: A Memoir, and Gore Vidal's Lincoln. I read Jeb and Dash on my own and highly recommend it. 

Frying Francis' Bacon

Francis Bacon: Revelations, by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, a new biography of the flamboyant English painter, lives up to the promise of its title--at least judging from the reviews in the Washington Post and New York Times. (The Amazon page quotes several similarly laudatory reviews from the other side of the pond.) Several Bookmen have already suggested we consider it for our next reading list despite its heft (880 pages/more than three pounds!), and I certainly think it's worth considering. We could handle it the way we did John Lahr's similarly lengthy biography, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which we split up between two sessions back in 2016.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Beyond Gilgamesh

Following up on Patrick Flynn's excellent presentation during tonight's discussion of The Epic of Gilgamesh, he offers the following suggestions for additional reading:

Gilgamesh’s literary qualities are the focus of classicist Charles Rowan Beye’s Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil, which devotes a chapter to the Gilgamesh poems.  Story coherence and Mesopotamian literary tradition are the strengths of Benjamin R. Foster’s edition of The Epic of Gilgamesh (available from DC’s Public Library). For those of you interested in technology, Steve Honley will attach a PDF copy of “The Origins of Writing in Mesopotamia" by Christopher Woods (The Oriental Institute, News & Notes, Fall 2010) to his next group message. (The first page is reproduced below.) And for pre-history and history surrounding the poem, the DVD “Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization” from the Great Courses learning series is also available from DCPL. 

Finally, Patrick says: "Let me leave you with a sample of the evocative poetry of Foster’s translation: the last lines of Tablet I: 'Even while [Gilgamesh] was having his dreams, Shamhat was telling the dreams of Gilgamesh to Enkidu, as the pair of them were making love together.'”

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Proust Project

During our recent discussion of Andre Aciman's Find Me, Octavio Roca usefully reminded us that Aciman has actually produced more nonfiction than fiction. A good example is his 2004 book, The Proust Project, for which Aciman asked 28 writers--including Edmund White, Shirley Hazzard, Lydia Davis, Richard Howard, Alain de Botton and Diane Johnson--to choose a favorite passage from In Search of Lost Time and introduce it in a brief essay. His own discussion of that masterpiece in the preface received critical acclaim, but alas, the collection is out of print. Should it ever become available again, I'd certainly be interested in reading it even though I'm not a Proustian.