After Quinn: Catch-Up #2

You can read the previous post for an explanation of the title. Read Quinn’s new post.

READING:
Still reading The Apocrypha and Roethke.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. A student asked me about Cancer and I didn’t have much to say. That afternoon I went to the library to get a new audiobook and it was on the shelf. Quinn will probably scream because I had The English Patient (finally!) in hand, but put it down for Miller. I’ve learned to try and embrace moments of synchronicity.

I don’t know much about Miller, but I have seen a few documentaries and interviews and he seemed like a jolly old man, much different from the narrative voice of this book. This is also a book that has likely destroyed many a young writer who got a hold of it too early. Not every story of puerile rage or sexcapade is interesting.

There’s a lot of youth and youthful ire here that accompanies a middle schooler’s vast vocabulary for genitalia and sexual activities. I’m guessing that was freeing for writers at one time. Now I could be saturated in “worty dirds” if I wanted. Miller partially wanted to shock and he does, but that sometimes seems less impressive or interesting with time. But don’t get me wrong, that’s not all that’s here. There’s some real humor and poetry at times. The voice immediately reminded me of Notes from Underground and later he mentions Dostoevsky, so I figure he was an influence.

Campbell Scott is the narrator and he’s been one of my favorite voices since I started listening to audiobooks.

Untamed State by Roxane Gay. I’m reading this with the only multi-member book club I’ve ever been a part of that has met more than once. It’s a fabulous group of English teachers I used to work with and my wife. The nights we meet have been an oasis. With two children under the age of three, we don’t make a lot of social occasions. Everyone in the group loves kids and we have a lot of fun and good discussion. And snacks!

I’ve read some of Gay’s short fiction and enjoyed it. I’m not sure where I stand on this one yet. There’s an interesting trick of cognitive dissonance in the book. The narrator wants her fiance to understand Haiti on a deeper level and get beyond the everyday suffering, meanwhile she documents for the readers the atrocities of her kidnapping and its part in Haitian culture. I’m only about halfway through, so I just don’t know what to make of it yet.

Possible next reads: Sanctuary by Faulkner. In Cold Blood by Capote.

WATCHING:
Black Mirror. For the next book club meeting, LT decided we should also watch the first three episodes of this show. You’ve probably heard about it by now. I loved episodes 2 and 3, in particular 2. Many folks I know have said that episode 3 is one of the best things they have ever seen in episodic TV format. I’d say the same for episode 2. I connected with that one more.

AFI Top 100
Recently saw Wuthering Heights (1939). Not one of my favorites. I liked the music and cinematography. It’s one of my favorite novels, so that may have something to do with not enjoying the film as much, even though I know that’s problematic. Still haven’t watched Zhivago and it looks like The Jazz Singer is next.

Also watched Polanski’s Macbeth, the first film he made after Sharon Tate was murdered. Brutal and interesting. Too much voice-over for my taste, but some clever decisions and some disappointing ones are made. That’s normal for any Shakespeare film adaptation.

LISTENING:
Anything I can find by the Sun City Girls. And Sublime Frequencies: Shadow Music of Thailand:

And Sublime Frequencies: Group Inerane–Guitars from Agadez–Music of Niger:

I love the drum rhythms/timing on this one.

WRITING:
Looks like Derek and I will be at an Austin literary and cartoon arts festival this summer. Once more of that is finalized I’ll mention it and the “special edition” book we’ll have with us.

As usual, Little Billboards. A few larger comic projects that I’ll hopefully get to announce soon. Some rough drafts and freewriting for poems have been happening as well.

A friend of mine asked me for a horror film list because he knew my interest in the genre. I ended up writing commentaries on the Universal Monsters, werewolf films, and Cronenberg’s filmography before I settled down and wrote the lists that would be useful. I wrote a favorites list (201 films), an “essential” list based on my favorites (137 films), then a top 50 and a top 10. It was more difficult than I thought it would be. My Top 10 doesn’t have many surprises, but they are all films I still watch and have personal connections with. I may share more of the lists here in later posts.

McClurg’s Top 10 Horror Films

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Exorcist (1973)
Jaws (1975)
Eraserhead (1977)
Suspiria (1977)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Phantasm (1979)
The Shining (1980)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Thing (1982)

Now I need to sweep up a bucket of crayons and feed the kids. Not the crayons, btw. They eat enough of those on their own. The wife made a delicious Southwest sweet potato chili. Gotta get plates cheesed and chilled and chilied.

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