Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant animated film Spirited Away, viewed as “a nightmare of capitalist Japan.” Considering that the story is set in a class stratified resort for the gods where even spirits are turned into consumers, under a greedy owner who steals the identities of her employees and turns anyone without a job into an animal, I’d say the analysis is at the very least arguable. (The fact that whiny Chihiro, the heroine, becomes a better and more resourceful person while maneuvering under Yubaba’s thumb deserves consideration as well.) Meanwhile, I’m eager for the U.S. release of Miyazaki’s latest film, Ponyo, on August 14.
The new issue of The Biographer’s Craft is up.
Luc Sante thinks Georges Simenon was an odd bird. Tell me about it.
Funny how the Scandinavian countries, with the most peaceful and happy people on Earth, produce so much bloodcurdling crime fiction.
James Baldwin’s years in Istanbul.
Chris Hannan lists the ten best books about the American frontier. Hannan’s rundown omits Butcher’s Crossing, Lord Grizzly, Flashman and the Redskins and Lonesome Dove, but he includes Roughing It, so what the hell.
Michael Chabon on the wilderness of childhood. Terrible Yellow Eyes offers works inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Click here to order the “fur edition” of the storybook for the upcoming film version.
Beck Hansen: Hey, I wanted to ask you about being from Los Angeles. You grew up there . . . Tom Waits: Yeah, Whittier, La Habra, Downey, that whole area. Yeah, Los Lobos, they’re from Whittier. So is Nixon. I remember Nixon’s market. He had his own family market. BH: He was? For some reason I thought he was from the Midwest. TW: No, California, and we used to get a visit every year from the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile, which was an enormous vehicle shaped like a hot dog. The driver was a Dwarf, and the wiener mobile would broadcast music while he sang the song “I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener.” He drew quite a crowd. Pretty exciting for a shopping center.
A love poem in an appropriate shape.
Poets describe the words that make them wince.
African album covers influenced by Michael Jackson’s covers.
Vladimir Nabokov vs. Alain Robbe-Grillet vs. Vladimir Nabokov vs. Alain Robbe-Grillet vs. Vladimir Nabokov vs. Alain Robbe-Grillet. . .
“Once experienced, it is hard to let Heart of Darkness go. A masterpiece of surprise, of expression and psychological nuance, of fury at colonial expansion and of how men make the least of life, the novella is like a poem, endlessly readable and worthy of rereading. Academics need write nothing more about it for another century. It should be handed back to readers simply to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. Conrad composed a book where we see ourselves, darkly. Its relevance echoes forever, fizzing with understanding us then and there, and here and now, written for us all to live with today, whenever ‘today’ will be.”