Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2nd\NE Quadrant 10/22 '07

The Approval Matrix: Week of October 22, 2007

"The Arrival"

"The Arrival" is a migrant story told as a series of wordless images that might seem to come from a long forgotten time. A man leaves his wife and child in an impoverished town, seeking better prospects in an unknown country on the other side of a vast ocean. He eventually finds himself in a bewildering city of foreign customs, peculiar animals, curious floating objects and indecipherable languages. With nothing more than a suitcase and a handful of currency, the immigrant must find a place to live, food to eat and some kind of gainful employment. He is helped along the way by sympathetic strangers, each carrying their own unspoken history: stories of struggle and survival in a world of incomprehensible violence, upheaval and hope. (Shaun Tan)

An excerpt from "The Arrival" can be viewed here.

Alex Ross'
The Rest Is Noise:
Listening to the Twentieth Century

Ross, the classical music critic for the New Yorker, leads a whirlwind tour from the Viennese premiere of Richard Strauss's Salome in 1906 to minimalist Steve Reich's downtown Manhattan apartment. The wide-ranging historical material is organized in thematic essays grounded in personalities and places, in a disarmingly comprehensive style reminiscent of historian Otto Friedrich. Thus, composers who led dramatic lives—such as Shostakovich's struggles under the Soviet regime—make for gripping reading, but Ross treats each composer with equal gravitas. The real strength of this study, however, lies in his detailed musical analysis, teasing out—in precise but readily accessible language—the notes that link Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story to Arnold Schoenberg's avant-garde compositions or hint at a connection between Sibelius and John Coltrane. (Publishers Weekly)

"Man Push Cart"

Plot Summary: Every night while the city sleeps, Ahmad, a Pakistani immigrant, struggles to drag his heavy cart along the streets of New York to his corner in Midtown Manhattan. And every morning, from inside his cart he sells coffee and donuts to a city he cannot call his own. He is the worker found on every street corner in every city. He is a man who wonders if he will ever escape his fate. (IMDb)

Jay Weissberg of Variety wrote of "Man Push Card," "An example of spare, slice-of-life indie cinema at its most unpretentious."
(Photo courtesy of John Higgins/Films Philos)

"Man Push Cart" Trailer

Jim Shepard and Joshua Ferris

Jim Shepard, Like You'd Understand, Anyway, and Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End, are on the short list for the National Book Award.

Jim Shepard said, "Then We Came to the End is the Catch-22 of the business world: it's a hilarious and heartbreaking and surreal portrait of the modern American corporation as a carnival - preschool? - of infantile misbehavior and breathtakingly futile and petty and despairing competiton. The real revelation here is how moving it all becomes: how much humanity and genuine emotional weight finally, against all odds, shines through." (Powells)

"Catch-22" is a satirical, historical fiction novel by the American author Joseph Heller, first published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of the Second World War from 1943 onwards, is frequently cited as one of the great literary works of the Twentieth century. (Wikipedia)

The first chapter of Like You'd Understand, Anyway can be read here.

Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky's
"War and Peace" Translation

Richard Pevear is an American-born poet and translator who frequently collaborates with his wife, Larissa Volokhonsky, on translations of works mainly in Russian, but also French, Italian and Greek. The husband-and-wife team live in Paris and are said to work in a two-step process: Volokhonsky, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, prepares a literal translation of the Russian text, and Pevear adapts the literal into polished and stylistically appropriate English. After that first draft, Pevear says, "Larissa goes over it, raising questions. And then we go over it again. I produce another version, which she reads against the original. We go over it one more time, and then we read it twice more in proof." (EIZIE)

Pevear was born in Boston and earned a bachelor's degree from Allegheny College and a master's degree from the University of Virginia. As of 2006, he teaches classes at the American University of Paris. (Wikipedia)

"The Paris Review Interviews, Vol II"

Publisher Comments: The art of the interview has never been more lively or engaging than in the pages of The Paris Review. Since this seminal literary magazine was founded in 1953, it has given us invaluable conversations with the greatest writers of the past half century, vivid self-portraits that are themselves works of finely-crafted literature. In this second volume, editor Philip Gourevitch selects a rich, varied crop of literary voices, including William Faulkner, Tony Morrison, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Graham Greene, James Baldwin, Stephen King, Philip Larkin, Eudora Welty, Peter Carey, Gabriel García Márquez, and more. "A colossal literary event" as Gary Shteyngart put it, The Paris Review Book of Interviews, II, offers an indispensable treasury of wisdom and insight from the literary masters of our age. (Powell)

The literary blog The Elegant Variation posted, "We called the first volume of this series "the gold standard of crack," and they haven't given up an inch of ground with the release of the second volume, which is as compulsively readable as the first."

"Thinking Shakespeare"

Marcus at Wittgenstein, Shakespeare, and Cookie Monster posted, "The best acting book I've read in years is "Thinking Shakespeare", by Barry Edelstein. It delves into every nook and cranny of Shakespearean acting. Shakespeare is such a lofty figure! How can we possibly measure up? By Keeping It Simple, Stupid. By figuring out what our characters want and working to achieve those goals on stage. That's Edelstein's message. It's been many other people's message, too. But Edelstein tells it well -- and he shapes it specifically to the needs of the Shakespearean actor. But "Thinking Shakespeare" should be read by all actors. For if you can act Shakespeare, you can surely act Neil Simon.

He continued by stating that, "Thinking Shakespeare" is a splendid book for directors, too. It will teach them -- or remind them -- how to analyze a Shakespeare script. It will also help them work with actors. And "Thinking Shakespeare" will thrill the literary scholar or Shakespeare fan. If you've spent all your time viewing Shakespeare through the lens of academia, this book will open you up to a whole new way of reading (not just Shakespeare, but all plays)."

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