“All-Weather Friends”: me on Wallace Stegner

at Acculturated: All three novels of marriage I’ve looked at so far have a certain sense of the privacy of marriage, which can become isolation. In fact, the focus has narrowed with each novel: Extended family and community are essential parts of Kristin Lavransdatter, but its heart remains with Kristin’s marriage and home; the isolation of the married couple is part of the point of How to Be Good; and Gilead gains much of its force from the sense that the dying narrator is increasingly sepa … [Read more...]

So Many Steps to Death: Revisiting “Brideshead Revisited”

Hey, so I read Brideshead Revisited again. I was in college the first time. Probably read the entire book drunk. Can't think of a better introduction to it! Anyway, here are some scattered thoughts on re-reading it, all of which are ridiculously spoilerous. Seriously, if you haven't read it, SKIP THIS POST and just go read it. It's short! It's phenomenal. I loved it even more the second time. You'll like it more if you don't know what's coming.* The contrast between the "heavy," plodding … [Read more...]

Nun Is the Loneliest Number: “Black Narcissus”

Last week I saw 1947's Powell & Pressburger convent fever dream Black Narcissus. It's set in the high, windswept mountain peaks of India (with requisite "half devil and half child" native caricatures, so just know that going in--I really liked the blunt old lady though), where an iron-spined young Anglican nun played by Deborah Kerr tries to run a convent in a former house of concubines. It's stunning to look at, of course, and I am not kidding about the "fever" aspect of this dream: It … [Read more...]

“No Place to Stand”: I review “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

at AmCon: Both the title and the trailer of Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (now playing in DC at the E Street Cinema and Bethesda Row Cinema) suggest that this will be the story of how a man becomes a fundamentalist: how a young-gun New York financier, humiliated and mistreated after 9/11, turns his back on America and returns to Pakistan to become an Islamic terrorist. This is not the actual story of the film. In a sense the movie has too much story for this summary, and the prota … [Read more...]

“Crime and Punishment: Juvenile Offenders Study Russian Literature”: Washington Post

via Ratty, I think: Kaufman thinks Russian literature is — unexpectedly — a particularly good fit for prisoners. The authors often asked what they called “the accursed questions,” Kaufman said: “Who am I? Why am I here? Given I’m going to die, how should I live?” more … [Read more...]

From “Brideshead Revisited”

"I think you are very fond of Sebastian," she said."Why, certainly.""I know of these romantic friendships of the English and the Germans. They are not Latin. I think they are very good if they do not go on too long." … [Read more...]

Probably from “Sculpting in Time: The Great Russian Filmmaker Discusses His Art”

“What is art?,” asked Tarkovsky. “Like a declaration of love: the consciousness of our dependence on each other. A confession. An unconscious act that none the less reflects the true meaning of life—love and sacrifice.” --I found it here … [Read more...]


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