October 28, 2009 § Leave a comment
PLOT – Doc meets up with his parents; Nixon’s face appears a lot (on banknotes, and TV); Coy Harlingen, pretending to be someone else, disrupts a Nixon rally.
p.113 The parking regulations at Gordita are said to have been devised ‘by fiendish anarchists to infuriate drivers into one day forming a mob and attacking the office of town government’.
If only it were so… I suppose this might be construed as the idea that technology will enslave us, and control us, far more than even the forces of order might have bargained for.
After Doc’s parents get a random phone call, threatening them, Doc reflects that
in the business, paranoia was a tool of the trade, it pointed you in directions you might not have seen to go.
As Michael Wood said in his NYRB review, being crazy can, in a circuitous manner, lead one back to insight.
p. 118 Further parallels between domestic and foreign US policy, with Nixon’s face being found in banknotes, in the same way he was put on bills in Vietnam.
p.122 Coy Harlingen turns out to be a police informant, something that Doc has already been approached about. He is here identified as Ric Doppel, which means ‘double’ in German and might refer here to the ‘doppelganger’-motif or shifting identities in a more general way. The theme seems to be prominent in this chapter. The films mentioned on p.115 belong in this context, for example. In Black Narcissus, Kathleen Byron’s character, Sister Ruth, can be seen as the dark double of Deborah Kerr’s Sister Clodagh. In Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, the somnambulist Cesare commits crimes when he is under the hypnotic spell of the title figure; Caligari himself may be director of a circus attraction or of a psychiatric hospital. In Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a character called Maria is replaced by a robot.
October 24, 2009 § 2 Comments
Today’s Guardian has a detailed profile of Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the LRB, which reveals that she was the person who came up with the title for Oliver Sacks’ book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. The Eitingons, a memoir of her family, will be out in November.
October 23, 2009 § Leave a comment
Very odd story about Philip Roth joining a tour of Philip Roth’s, Newark. If this were in one of his novels, no one would recognise him and he would be chased away from his old haunts, forced to wander through back alleys in dejected irony.
October 20, 2009 § 1 Comment
There’s a chance of me doing some reviewing in the near future, so I am of course paying particular attention to such pieces, especially the lead sentence. The following, from William T. Vollmann’s review of Philip Caputo’s Crossers, seems like it could be endlessly reused, with only the author’s name altered.
Once when I was so weak with amebic dysentery that all time not spent on the toilet was passed in bed, I found in my host’s house one book in a language I could read. It was one of those storm-tossed but ultimately upbeat women’s romances, a genre I had not yet sampled. I read it, then read it again and again, since there was nothing better to do. If I ever have the luxury of repeating such an experience, I hope to do so with a Philip Caputo book.
All I would need after that is a plot summary and a few sentences of mostly unsubstantiated opinion. That usually does the trick.
October 19, 2009 § Leave a comment
A story of mine entitled ‘The False River’ has been shortlisted for the Bridport prize.
Whilst this is all very nice, please do not confuse this with me having a) won anything or b) being in contention for anything. The Bridport ‘shortlist’ is actually about 80 people long. The real shortlist is the 13 people who are still in contention for the prize itself. Being shortlisted for the Bridport prize is one of the boxes that short story writers like to check, especially in their bios.