Friday finds

A recording of John Steinbeck talking about “certain angers” he felt while writing The Grapes of Wrath is now available as part of a CD set of author interviews issued by the British Library. Listen here. The recordings, many of them unheard until now, feature 30 Brits and 27 Yanks: F Scott Fitzgerald reciting Othello; Tennessee Williams lambasting critics; Raymond Chandler drunkenly slurring his way through an interview with Ian Fleming; the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf; the sole recording of Arthur Conan Doyle, talking about spiritualism; and an apparently incomprehensible explanation of her writing method from Gertrude Stein.

Years from now, after the dust clouds of snobbery have cleared, Stephen King may turn out to be the midpoint between H.P. Lovecraft and Flannery O’Connor. At least, that’s what this interview has me thinking. I liked the original incarnation of The Stand, but when the “restored” version with an additional 400 pages of text came out, my reaction was to say that life is too short. Now I’m thinking I should give the novel a look (or a hoist) sometime soon.   

More hoodoo poppycock has been written about Robert Johnson than any other blues musician. Nevertheless, it’s intriguing to think that someone may have turned up a previously overlooked photo of the man, of whom only two photographs are known to exist.

Philip K. Dick’s screenplay for a never-made film version of his novel Ubik is now available. Read it while wearing one of these uber-cool T-shirts.

Tour Italy with Jen. Tour the Weidelsberg with Gabriele. Tour the Erie Cut with Bill. Tour a real crystal palace with Neil. Cross the Great Plains with Brad. Ian goes inside the head of Chris Berens. And Lance sees a junco, partner.

If you’re going to be in the vicinity of New Brunswick, N.J. this coming Wednesday, you might want to go see this guy at this place. That’s what I’m going to do, if the commute from The Land of Overpriced Dirt isn’t too bad.

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3 thoughts on “Friday finds

  1. Levi Stahl says:

    I enjoyed the King interview, too, but in conversation with a friend later that day I had to admit that, though I thought the expanded The Stand was a good idea when I read it in high school, I’m not so sure that the extra eleventy-billion pages are necessary.

    It’s one of those books that I really wonder what I would make of now. At the time, I thought it was one of the best things I’d ever read, but I thought many things were wonderful at 17 about which I’m now less enthusiastic.

  2. Steven Hart says:

    I haven’t read it since it came out in 1978, though I did watch a bit of the rather tedious miniseries. (I don’t really get what King likes about the Mick Garris take on his work.) I think what I liked best was the first half, the way King set his array of plot-wheels spinning while lining up his characters. The Cecil B. DeMille quality of the windup was a downer — all that crackerbarrel religiosity — but the story’s momentum carried me through.

  3. geoff says:

    I was a King fanatic into my late teens, but books like The Tommyknockers and It and the re-released The Stand drove me round the bend (I adored the original Stand–the re-release was proof, like Apocalypse Now Redux, that good editing is important). Too often his ideas were re-hashed from old Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episodes, and the writing got clunkier and clunkier. Misery is my fave, but I love many of the early novels, particulary The Dead Zone and Carrie. Pet Sematary ruled!

    I tried to read King again on a flight from LAX to Taipei in my early ’30s. Desperation, I think it was. Wretchedly bad!

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