Thursday, April 18, 2024

Some books I've read 63

Catastrophe and Other Stories by Dino Buzzati

This writer was a new discovery for me, a sort of Italian Kafka. It's a collection of short stories, some sort of Twilight Zone-ish. Will look for more. There's a new collection of his work published this fall.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Real purty, this book. What does it mean? Haven't the foggiest. But I enjoyed reading it, and will find If On A Winter's Night A Traveller that I gave up some years ago and give it a second try.

U2: The Definite Biography by John Joblin

A critical biography of U2, especially of Bono and his work as an activist, that there is some hypocrisy involved, which is fair enough, I guess, stopping at No Line on the Horizon, that I never bought. So, basically, U2 has become the establishment, no longer taking chances, they've become the sort of band they once hated and fought against. Maybe. 

Seventies by Howard Sounes

The writer defends this decade "that taste forgot", pointing to Monty Python, Woody Allen, Scorsese and Coppola, Sex Pistols, David Hockney, David Bowie, Andy Warhol and Jack Nicholson among others. And yes, there was some good stuff made, wide lapels and sideburns be damned.

Woody Allen on Woody Allen

The expanded edition, going up to Hollywood Ending.  Allen doesn't really like to talk much about his previous work, which is a problem for a book like this. Or, he talks about stuff, but not with any real passion. I still like the early stuff, haven't seen that much after Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Terry Gilliam on Terry Gilliam

So, I got some mixed feelings about Gilliam. Brazil, yes, was very good. I intensely disliked Twelve Monkeys and haven't seen any of his films after that. But he's still fun to listen to. Both about his work as a director and about being a Python. You always know you're watching a Gilliam film, for good or for bad.

Amazing Spider-Man: The Secret of the Petrified Tablet

Not one of the best, this Epic Collection. The stories don't feel fresh anymore. Peter worries about aunt May. Oh, no! Stan Lee can write this stuff in his sleep now. Several stories drawn by John Buscema who does decent work, but he's no Ditko or Romita.

Captain America: To Be Reborn

Forgettable stories, but great art by Jack Kirby. Not a fan of the inking by Syd Shores, that is not as strong as the ones by Joe Sinnot and Dan Adkins. 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Some books I've read 62

The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland

A good book about one of the first Jews to escape from Auschwitz and then try to warn the world. Some listened, some didn't. Apparently, Churchill already knew. We also follow him later in life and see how it affected him. Surely, a movie version must be on the way.

Butcher's Crossing by John Williams

Great Western, with impressive research, lots of details about buffalo hunting. Masterfully written as well. After this and Stoner, it makes me want too read Augustus, his Roman novel.

The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

I read this in Norwegian as a teenager, but remembered almost nothing besides a detective trying to solve a murder case and there being robots involved.  I wanted to re-read it out of curiosity. It turns out... I didn't like it. Flat, boring language. Not much story, just a lot of dialogue.

A Masterpiece in Disarray by Max Evry

Or, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dune, But Were Afraid to Ask. A 500 page oral history about the making of David Lynch's Dune. A flawed semi masterpiece? It's not perfect, but has some great stuff in it. And it's not the 3 hour version Lynch wanted. They ran out of money at the end doing the special effects, and he also had to cut it down to 2 hours, 17 minutes on orders from Dino De Laurentiis. What could have been...

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli by Mark Seal

The story of the making of The Godfather. Some of these stories I already knew, but a lot of the gangster stuff, how they pulled strings to help filming, was new. I didn't see The Offer. Should I?

Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life by Michael Schumacher

A solid biography of Coppola, from the glorious 70's to the downfall of Zoetrope and his period of being a director for hire. That maybe meant less personal films, but still being excellent work, like Rumble Fish and Bram Stoker's Dracula. Let's hope Megalopolis will be a return to form.

Revolution in the Air by Clinton Heylin

I'm about halfway into this book about every song Bob Dylan has ever written. There is good stuff here, but also Heylin being his usual snooty self to other Dylan biographers.

Silver Surfer: Black by Donny Cates and Tradd Moore

Got this in a used French version. The story I didn't connect to, but the drawings are amazing. Like, far out, man!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

German Q and A

Saul Steinberg


Monday, January 1, 2024

Some books I've read 61

Night by Elie Wiesel

Good book, the text cut to the bone, but after all the films and documentaries, both in books and TV (and comics, MAUS!), it has maybe lost some of its powers.

Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate and the Price of a Vision by Charles Elton

Great book about Cimino's career, the high point being The Deer Hunter. Then came Heaven's Gate... That now is being revalued. Flawed possibly, but not a complete train wreck. Cimino himself remains an enigma.

White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link

I loved her first book, Stranger Things Happen, but her later books have gone more in the direction of fantasy and YA, the same with this one, a retelling of fairy tales. The last story, though, Skinder's Veil, has the old Link magic.

Dartmouth Park by Rupert Thomson

His later books have been a bit hit or miss, but I found this one to be quite intriguing. A bit slow, maybe? But it still works, including the ending 

Charlie Chaplin by Peter Ackroyd

A decent biography of Chaplin. It's short, luckily. I'm not such a fan that I'm gonna read the 1000 page one. Yes, he had a thing for young women. And the old Chaplin seems like a monster, with a huge ego and flying into a rage for anything, terrifying his wife and eight kids. 

Camera Man by Dana Stevens

Keaton is my man, more than Chaplin. His silent movies have aged better than some of Chaplin's. After The General tanked he lost his independence at MGM, turning him into an alcoholic. The old question then is, did he spend the rest of his years in misery? According to Stevens, the answer is no. In the 50s, there was a rediscovery of his films, and Keaton was quite happy, and busy, living with his third wife, Eleanor.

Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation and America by Dennis McNally

Of the Kerouac bios I've read so far, this was one of the best. Just as with Hemingway you know that the last 50 pages will be depressing. For Kerouac it was living with his mother, chasing away hippies and drunkenly calling up old friends who hung up on him, writing books mostly being a thing of the past. 

Bill Sienkiewicz's Mutants and Moon Knights and Assassins: Artisan Edition

Quite good book, but should have been more from his Moon Knight and New Mutants comics. The colour pages from Elektra are a bit pointless.