I have been stuck at home these past two days due to a sudden and mildly vicious cold, but weep not for me, gentle reader; forced bed rest has not only proven a welcome respite from my darling 8th grade students, but also as a moment in which to catch up with my reading and movie watching (hip hip!).
So, in short, what have I accomplished? Other than a fair bit of writing, the following:
Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell: Mitchell is a British phenomenon, having published a series of critically acclaimed works in the 2000’s, most of which have been nominated for the Booker Award. But, unlike most stuffy Bookerites, he writes edgy, fun novels filled to bursting with gorgeous language, endlessly beautiful metaphors and similes and possesses a protean voice that allows him to do anything he likes. For versatility and verisimilitude he can’t be beat. He’s England’s answer to Michael Chabon.
Now, Black Swan Green – well. Different from his other novels, which is good, but it took me some time to get into it. The voice is flawless, the vision of 1980’s England is spot on, and the language was as evocative and powerful as ever. But. Well, how to put it? I just wasn’t that interested in the grimy travails of a thirteen year old British lad as Mitchell might have wanted me to be. He was clearly writing a paean to his own childhood (would be my guess), and revisiting this time was important and fun for him. And after ploughing through the first third, I must admit that I did get caught up and swept away. But the first third? Just… well. Not that fascinating, I suppose.
In short: David Mitchell can’t write a bad book, and if language is your drug then he’s the best dope dealer in town. But this foray into the world of Thatcher and the Falkland War, bullying and the travails of becoming a teenager was a bit hard to get into. If you’ve got the patience, though, you’ll be endlessly rewarded with phrases like:
“Know what fire is?” Knife Grinder’s cough is a dying man’s cough. “Fire’s the sun, unwindin’ itself out o’ the wood.”
Blue Velvet, by David Lynch. Watched this this morning, lying bed, feet up, with only the right side of my headphones working. Which was strangely fitting, given how surreal and bizarre this movie proved to be (which is par for the course for Lynch). Having seen a large number of Twin Peaks episodes, and Mulholland Drive, I was prepared for Lynch’s style, but at times I couldn’t help but blink and ask myself “What the hell is going on?” I think my favorite moment of confusion and enjoyment was when Dennis Hopper drags everybody to his dealer, and watches his suave host sing Mr. Sandman. Just… timeless in its complete suspension of all common sense. You’re firmly in Lynch’s world at such moments, you lose all contact with your own markers, feel adrift as you try to figure out the rules and realize that there really aren’t any.
So great film. I love that dated 80’s feeling that Lynch’s movies exhude, with the big hair, the aggressive and strangely two dimensional attitudes, the bizarre cut away scenes and enigmatic cues Lynch provides his audience with in terms of different color shots, sounds and sequences. Think I preferred Mulhullond Drive though.
Also finished The Midwich Cuckoos, by James Wyndham, the novel on which The Village of the Damned was based. What was particularly enjoyable about this slender novel was how intelligent it was; something absolutely improbable and frightening befalls a sleepy, backwater community, and Wyndham methodically and with great verisimilitude describes what happens as a result. Smart, thought provoking and chilling, this novel is absolutely worth the read.
Okay, I have run out of blogging steam. Back to the onerous duty of being sick!