Monday, August 22, 2005

Late Night with David Letterman: The Book, edited by Merrill Markoe

Yes, after trashing William Faulkner I’m going to praise David Letterman. Fred is forever awestruck by the beauty of the sea. Frank blows his nose on his hand. Now that’s funny.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sanctuary by William Faulkner

I don’t like Faulkner. Sacrilege, I know, but it’s true. Is it me, or can anyone make any sense out of what he’s writing? Who did what? Who’s related to who? What’s that character’s name? Who’s this now and what role does he play? If this is all intentional, give old Bill first prize for writing indecipherable crap in vivid and living prose. If it’s not, then he is by far the most overrated author in American letters.

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

City by the Bay: San Francisco in Art and Literature, edited by Alexandra Chappell

On Wednesday morning at a quarter past five came the earthquake. A minute later the flames were leaping upward. In a dozen different quarters south of Market Street, in the working-class ghetto, and in the factories, fires started. There was no opposing the flames. There was no organization, no communication. All the cunning adjustments of a twentieth century city had been smashed by the earthquake. The streets were humped into ridges and depressions, and piled with the debris of fallen walls. The steel rails were twisted into perpendicular and horizontal angles. The telephone and telegraph systems were disrupted. And the great water-mains had burst. All the shrewd contrivances and safeguards of man had been thrown out of gear by thirty seconds’ twitching of the earth-crust.
Jack London, The Story of an Eye-Witness

That’s from City by the Bay: San Francisco in Art and Literature, edited by Alexandra Chappell, a little book published by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was a quick and easy read. The above passage is the only one that jumped out at me. It describes the great earthquake and fire of 1906, but really talks about the hubris of man shaken and destroyed by the forces of nature. Like the Titanic. Like Moby-Dick.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen the movie. I enjoyed the book. The title refers to a memory from Clarice Starling’s childhood, when she lived on an orphanage/ranch in Montana and awoke one morning to the screams of the lambs being slaughtered. It seems as if Clarice has been hearing their screams in her mind for most of her troubled life since then, and longs for a time when she will hear the silence of the lambs.