Friday, December 22, 2006

New York mag’s ‘The Year in Culture’

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
‘McCarthy’s last two books have been lamentations for lost worlds. In No Country for Old Men, he mourned the disappearance of morality, while in The Road he mourns the disappearance of, well, everything, creating a postapocalyptic novel that successfully marries Beckett with Mad Max. It’s both a serious meditation on the purpose of life and the best end-of-the-world horror flick you’ve ever seen.’

The Queen
‘The year’s best movie—directed by Stephen Frears from a witty and elegant script by Peter Morgan—is a quasi comedy of grand manners with the world’s least likely heroine: the stuffy Elizabeth II, who can’t even bring herself to make a public statement of grief on the occasion of Diana’s untimely death. As the monarch whose features barely bestir themselves, Dame Helen Mirren (in the performance of the year) uses one of the most expressive faces in film to signal the teensiest signs of tension between the monarch and the human being.’

Books on War

From Time:

The Economist’s ‘Books of the year 2006’

In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India by Edward Luce is one of them.

A perceptive and witty book that is set to become the definitive generalist’s account of India’s political, economic and social development and its future prospects.

The NYT’s ‘10 Best Books of 2006’

‘How to read a novel’

From the NYT:

In the 1600s the total number of books available to a literate Englishman was about 2,000. Now, more than 2,000 are published a week, with 10,000 new novels every year. Given a 40-hour reading week, a 46-week working year and three hours per novel, you would need 163 lifetimes to read them all, John Sutherland calculates in his new book, “How to Read a Novel,” which aims to be a user-friendly guide to negotiating this morass. “Done well, a good reading is as creditable as a 10-scoring high dive,” he writes. “It is, I would maintain, almost as difficult to read a novel well as to write one well.” A dubious but nevertheless terrifying proposition, calling to mind the girl at the cocktail party in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” who declares to the room, “I finally had an orgasm, and my doctor said it was the wrong kind.”

‘The best science book ever written’

The Periodic Table, Primo Levi (1975)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Apocalypto, in Yucatecan Maya

Scott Foundas in the LA Weekly:

For those of us who prefer to judge Gibson solely in terms of his art, the movie is a virtuosic piece of action cinema -- particularly in its second half...And while there has been no shortage of recent films that decry the horrors of war and man's inhumanity to his fellow man, I know of none other quite this sickeningly powerful.

The Master of Malgudi

The New Yorker’s centennial profile of R K Narayan.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The greatest non-fiction works in English?

Ben Stein in the conservative US magazine The American Enterprise, November 1999:

In 1776, without the benefit of word processing, the Internet, or Starbucks Coffee, three of the four greatest non-fiction works in the English language were published. In America, Thomas Jefferson, with some help, wrote the [American] Declaration of Independence. In Great Britain, Gibbon produced his masterpiece, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And in Scotland, Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, by far the most important work of political economy ever published. (The fourth and perhaps most important document of all, the U.S. Constitution, came about a decade later.)

Philosophy book lists

from Douglas Browning, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin.

WSJ’s ‘Five Best’

The Wall Street Journal has a weekly column ‘Five Best’ that has a personality nominating his choice of the five best books on a variety of themes.

‘The best work of American fiction of the last 25 years’ – The New York Times, May 2006.

Radio 3’s 100 most influential artistic and cultural figures of the century (The Independent, Jan 1998).

Sexton’s ‘private canon’

David Sexton is the literary editor of the Evening Standard (London). In December 2002, the newspaper carried a list he called his private canon of 100 great books.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

100 greatest novels, again.

It’s all a matter of perception, isn’t it? Sometimes all this seems so irrelevant, trivial. At certain times you forget what has at other times been a lifeline to yourself. Thus with blogging.

And anyway the idea of this blog has been to say something when one has something to say. So what if I still have nothing to say? I want to say that I have nothing to say tonight. Ciao!