february 1–15, 2017

Books

  • Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Refugees
  • Sometimes a book gets lucky with its publication date? Not as overwhelming as The Sympathizer (also I don’t particularly care for the short story as a form), but Nguyen’s range impresses, as does his empathy.

  • Corrado Augias, The Secrets of Rome: Life & Death in the Eternal City
  • There aren’t many books that can be put on a shelf next to Georgina Masson’s Companion Guide to Rome but this is one of them. Not quite Carlo Levi’s L’Orologio, but what is? An old Italian guy telling stories about the cities: most of these are familiar, but they’re well-told, and there are entertaining digressions.

  • Pramuan Burusphat, Destination: Still Unknown
  • It’s not often that there’s an art show in Bangkok that’s actually interesting: most everything seems to be aimed at providing decorations for hotels or is cartoonishly amateur. (That said: right now is a weird high point.) This show at BACC was surprisingly good: though I wonder if my reaction to it was that he was educated in the U.S. and his references (conceptualism in the 1970s) are familiar?

  • Ellery Queen, Calamity Town
  • (for a writing project.)

  • Flann O’Brien, The Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor
  • A list claims that I read this when I was in college. I have absolutely no memory of it at all, which is mildly worrying. Maybe I was confusing this with The Poor Mouth?

Films

  • A Day at the Races, directed by Sam Wood
  • Little Sister, dir. Zach Clark
  • Love and Friendship, dir. Whit Stillman
  • La stanza del figlio, dir. Nanni Moretti
  • The Last Movie, dir. Dennis Hopper
  • The River, dir. Jean Renoir
  • Spider Baby, dir. Jack Hill
  • Il racconto dei racconti (Tale of Tales), dir. Matteo Garrone

Exhibits

  • “Pramuan Burusphat: Destination: Still Unknown,” BACC
  • “Erwin Wurm: The Philosophy of Instructions,” BACC
  • “Noppanan Thannaree: Simple-Truth,” People’s Gallery, BACC
  • “For Those Who Died Trying,” BACC
  • “Sopheap Pich: New Works,” H Gallery Bangkok
  • “Peeraya Suphasidh: Iterations of a Dream,” H Project Space
  • “Harit Srikhao: A Boy Who Was Kidnapped by Time,” Kathmandu Photo Gallery

january 16–31, 2017

Books

  • Eimear McBride, The Lesser Bohemians
  • I still need to finish A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing. I like how wonderfully oral McBride’s writing is; it loses power when a character’s monologue takes over the narrative and perspective is lost (as well as the distinctive voice). But a very well-done book. More books should be written like this.

  • Georges Simenon, Maigret Meets a Milord, translated by Robert Baldick
  • Álvaro Enrigue, Sudden Death, trans. Natasha Wimmer
  • There are a lot of reasons I should like this book: its preoccupations with Rome, Caravaggio, and the early history of Mexico City. But it feels a little too much like a research novel. Probably not fair to read this so soon after the death of John Berger: it suffers when compared to G.

  • Georges Simenon, Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets, trans. Tony White
  • Rosamond Lehmann, Dusty Answer
  • Is there a reason New York Review Books has not reprinted this? Could be shelved next to Denton Welch or Alain-Fournier.

  • Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea
  • Someone should have a project of recreating all the terrible-sounding meals described in this book and putting them in a gallery to rot without refrigeration.

  • Paul Murray, The Mark and the Void
  • This book is a probably twice as long as it needs to be, but it feels important: somebody’s using fiction to scrutinize how capitalism works, or doesn’t work, now. The subplot about the place of art inside of capitalism doesn’t come off as well, but it’s still a good effort.

Films

  • Julieta, directed by Pedro Almodóvar
  • The Cocoanuts, dir. Robert Florey & Joseph Santley
  • Horse Feathers, dir. Norman Z. McLeod
  • Monkey Business, dir. Norman Z. McLeod
  • Everybody Wants Some!!, dir. Richard Linklater
  • The Lathe of Heaven, dir. David Loxton & Fred Barzyk

january 1–15, 2017

Books

  • A. R. Ammons, Garbage
  • For a project on garbage, maybe never to be finished.

  • Karen Weiser, Or, the Ambiguities
  • Not sure that I loved this, but it’s nice that there’s still more to be mined from Pierre.

  • Iris Murdoch, The Italian Girl
  • One of the slightest of Murdoch’s novels that I’ve read so far: a bit too happy to indulge in the Gothic.

  • Jai Arun Ravine, The Romance of Siam: A Pocket Guide
  • I loaned this out before I could write something more substantial about this, and I kind of wish I hadn’t: this is one of the most thoughtful things I’ve read on the idea of Thailand and how that’s been received. Deserves more attention.

  • John Ashbery, Breezeway
  • I had a panic that Ashbery was about to die and I went out and bought this, thinking I might not have another chance to buy one of his books while he was still alive. A little slighter than I wanted?

  • Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project
  • I am confused why everyone gets excited about Dave Eggers and George Saunders when they could be getting about Hemon, who is better than either.

  • Georges Simenon, The Late Monsieur Gallet, translated by Anthea Bell
  • Georges Simenon, Teddy Bear, trans. John Clay
  • Georges Simenon, Betty, trans. Alastair Hamilton
  • I like how simple these are: working my way through Simenon trying to come up with ideas.

  • Jenny Diski, On Trying to Keep Still
  • I miss Jenny Diski’s writing, and I wish more of her books came my way: there’s the consolation of knowing that I haven’t read them all yet.

Films

  • The Pink Panther, directed by Blake Edwards
  • For Me and My Gal, dir. Busby Berkeley
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle, dir. Peter Yates
  • Monkey Business, dir. Norman Z. McLeod
  • Tod für fünf Stimmen (Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices), dir. Werner Herzog
  • Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers, dir. Les Blank