23 August 2011

So we’re finishing up Season 2 of “Breaking Bad” here, and it just gets better and better.  If you haven’t watched it yet, run don’t walk.  I often find myself saying out loud, “Wow.”

In the most recent episode we watched, Season 2 Episode 13, I think I may have “discovered” a literary reference.  It seems impossible to discover anything these days, with so many fan sites and discussion boards and most people being much more current than myself (I mean, here I am, still on Season 2, for goodness sake); but after googling several different combinations of words, I was only able to come up with one discussion page (and the thread is so long I couldn’t find what I was looking for).  What I googled was “Breaking Bad Elizabeth Bishop.”

A character named Jane falls off the wagon (heroin), and her father enters her bedroom to dig around.  There is a photographic portrait on the wall, and the prominence of it gives an impression that the portrait might be Jane’s dead mother.  The woman in the portrait looked very familiar, and I soon recognized her as Elizabeth Bishop.  Later, after Jane overdoses and the father is asked by the police for Jane’s mother’s maiden name, he says, “Bishop.”  Hmm…  Perhaps writer and creator Vince Gilligan is an EB fan.

22 August 2011

Some wonderful friends are still out there letting me know when they see Long for This World in fun places.

At the Fairfield, CT Library – “Travel Abroad Through Books” display


At the Phillips Andover Academy library (it’s been decades since I’ve seen either of these two souls – don’t they look great?!)

16 August 2011

At the Publishers Weekly news blog, seven writers – Clyde Edgerton, Alix Ohlin, Clancy Martin, Jonathan Evison, Sam Lipsyte, Duane Swierczyski, and yours truly – share summer music stories and lists.  Mine is all about the year 1983, which I am starting to think was the most significant year of my life.

4 August 2011

At the Hindustan Times, Sanjay Sipahimalani calls The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books “a breath of fresh air” and quotes my essay in the final paragraph of the review.

It’s Sonya Chung, though, who strives to look at the present in just the right manner. The pendulum will swing back one day, she writes, but meanwhile, “…whether you are optimistic or pessimistic, hopeful or dispirited, it is clear that our needs, desires, fears, and values are at stake; and what could be more exciting for literature?” A new age of Modernism could be around the corner, in other words. As that quartet from Athens, Georgia, might well have sung: It’s the end of the book as we know it, and I feel fine.

An R.E.M. comparison?!  Definitely a first.

Read the entire review here.

1 August 2011

I loved reading Lorrie Moore‘s piece in the New York Review of Books about “Friday Night Lights”; but I’d say she needs to read the blogs more before claiming FNL as a “solitary, isolated” guilty pleasure.  (Oh, my Lord – did I just make a plug for social networking?)

Moore and I agree about cleavage volume and Lyla Garrity’s (Minka Kelly) dismissability, along with Kyle Chandler‘s sublime acting. But I can’t quite get with viewers, Moore included, who fixate on the character Tim Riggins.  Don’t get me wrong: Taylor Kitsch nails this character; he is compelling and complex and beautiful (the hair, the hair).  But for me, it’s all about Matt Saracen; I could watch Zach Gilford on screen, with his nervous doe eyes, sage-yet-clumsy earnestness, and periodic manly resolve for hours.  The episode for which he was nominated for an Emmy – in which his father, a soldier in Iraq, dies – was truly award-worthy; but another (preceding) episode I think surpassed it: Matt’s rage simmers (Julie has dumped him, his rebound lover has dumped him, he’s lost his QB spot to a prick freshman, his grandmother’s dementia increases, Coach Taylor has taken a college coaching job), then boils over, then Coach Taylor corners him (in Matt’s own house) to set him straight.  Drenched and crumpled in the bathtub after Coach shoves him in there to cool him off, he sobs, “Why does everyone abandon me?  What’s wrong with me?”  It sounds bathetic as I describe it, but it’s one of those things you just have to see; especially after knowing Matt’s even-keeled character for three years.

The last paragraph of Moore’s piece is hilarious (her humor is sprinkled throughout, but she lets it loose at the end):

The people I was speaking with mostly wanted to discuss the character Tim Riggins, played by Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch heaven! Lyla Garrity was a dismissible minx. Tyra Collette, who runs for class president by saying, “Nobody here is getting laid if you let Ginny here have the prom in the gym,” had distracting hairdo instability. The girls in general held less interest, and the coach’s new baby Graciebelle held the least of all. (According to Jason Katims in the DVD commentary, Graciebelle is portrayed by a toddler who is one of “three twin sisters,” a remark that certainly gives one pause.)

(“Distracting hairdo instability” and “three twin sisters” had me laughing all afternoon.)

I’ve spilled an awful lot of ink over FNL; well at least I’m in good company.  Lorrie Moore!  The New York Review of Books!