My Year in Books, 2017

But let's start with movies. Ten years ago, the Scottish musician and critic Momus observed that one of the most acclaimed films of 2007, Guillermo del Toro's Spanish-Civil-War fantasy Pan's Labyrinth, was morally and politically simplistic and (or because) artistically complacent. He gave ten objections to the film; I will quote the first two: 1. The … Continue reading My Year in Books, 2017

A Note on Blade Runner 2049

A good, thought-provoking short essay by Christian Lorentzen. I disagree with his interpretation of Blade Runner 2049, though, which he sees as schmaltzy and simplistic. I certainly had problems with it—too slow; too lugubrious; too much spectacle and not enough story; at times while watching it I worried that "2049" might designate not the year … Continue reading A Note on Blade Runner 2049

César Aira, Ema, the Captive

Ema, the Captive by César Aira My rating: 4 of 5 stars Reading and rereading Wilde over the years, I note a fact that his panegyrists seem not even to have suspected: the elementary and demonstrable fact that Wilde is nearly always right. —Jorge Luis Borges, "On Oscar Wilde" (trans. Esther Allen) Art never expresses … Continue reading César Aira, Ema, the Captive

Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, Nameless

Nameless by Grant Morrison My rating: 3 of 5 stars But did Grant Morrison deserve my bitchy crack about Coldplay toward the end of my review of Greg Carpenter's British Invasion? After being too pleased with myself for its cleverness, it occurred to me that I had not read a Morrison comic all the way … Continue reading Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, Nameless

Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski My rating: 3 of 5 stars "The good parts are good; he just keeps not having the good parts." Such was the verdict rendered upon House of Leaves and its author by someone I know who left the novel unfinished—a "confirmed ghost story and horror film addict" (quoth Jack … Continue reading Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin My rating: 5 of 5 stars Well, this is a fun book. So fun, in fact, that I wonder why people go on about the "Pushkin problem"—the supposed problem that non-Russian readers do not understand the esteem in which the poet is held by Russians, especially as compared to other … Continue reading Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Gentle Creature and Other Stories

A Gentle Creature and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky My rating: 4 of 5 stars This little book, translated by Alan Myers, collects three of Dostoevsky’s short works on the subject of the "dreamer"—one early piece, the classic 1848 novella "White Nights," and two pieces of the 1870s, first published in D.’s Diary of a … Continue reading Fyodor Dostoevsky, A Gentle Creature and Other Stories

Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon My rating: 3 of 5 stars [Fair warning: the following is, deliberately, about as aleatory as the novel itself.] Well, I am not this novel's target demographic, to put it in the language of commerce that routed the hippie dream from within. It's only the second Pynchon novel I've ever … Continue reading Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice