february 15–28, 2017

Books

  • Virgina Woolf, Orlando
  • I don’t know why it took me so long to read this – probably if I had thought of it as being so obviously in the lineage of Tristram Shandy I would have gotten there sooner. Woolf’s snobbishness is still hard for me.

  • Georges Simenon, The Widow, translated by John Petrie
  • (Filling time somewhere.)

  • Linda Rosenkrantz, Talk
  • Late to this! It makes me want to reread Maggie Paley’s telephone novel, Bad Manners (1986), as well as Ed Friedman’s The Telephone Book (1979) and think about the ways in which people talk changed over time.

  • Qiu Miaojin, Last Words from Montmartre, trans. Ari Larissa Heinrich
  • John Glassco, Memoirs of Montparnasse
  • Enrique Vila-Matas, Never Any End to Paris, trans. Anne McLean
  • Three books, on the continuum between memoir and fiction, about the idea of being an artist in Paris. The Qiu Miaojin seems very young to me? I think I might have liked this more were I half my age and prone to making grandiose statements about love. The Glassco isn’t as good as Robert McAlmon & Kay Boyle’s Being Geniuses Together, a book it resembles; it’s maybe interesting for being a picture of the writer not as an artist but as a hanger-on. I fell off the Vila-Matas train a while ago, though I mostly like his book (having no real idea how much, if any, is real); it’s hard for me not to like something with so much India Song in it; and recounting stories about Marguerite Duras makes me think about her in Le Camion, explaining her great film to Gérard Depardieu, to which this novel is not, perhaps, dissimilar.

  • Silvina Ocampo, Thus Were Their Faces, trans. Daniel Balderston
  • I liked this collection of (mostly) short stories better than her collaboration with Adolfo Bioy-Casares from a couple years ago, though the quality varies (as indicated by the translator in the introduction). Probably should look at her poetry to give her a fair shot.

  • Albertine Sarrazin, Astragal, trans. Patsy Southgate
  • Fairly certain that I would have enjoyed this more were it not for the Patti Smith introduction; I should have known better.

  • Betty Gosling, A Chronology of Religious Architecture at Sukhothai: Late Thirteenth to Early Fifteenth Century
  • We went to Sukhothai, so I read about that.

  • Philip Glass, Words Without Music: A Memoir
  • I can see how this book would be somewhat frustrating to many readers – certainly it seems to lose steam about halfway through & it’s doggedly against personal revelation – but I like how thoroughly Glass explains what he was doing to make money: his stints as a plumber and a taxi driver would probably be glossed over in most treatments, but here they’re given their fair share of attention.

  • Eve Babitz, Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, the Flesh, and L.A.
  • I read Eve’s Hollywood a while back when I was working my way through Duchampiana; this is similar, somewhere between memoir and fiction. What’s interesting about Babitz’s use of this form is that it doesn’t feel particularly necessary to pin down the people she’s talking about (who are generally of interest) in the way that it feels absolutely necessary in, for example, John Glassco’s, which fails entirely as fiction.

Exhibits

  • Maiiam Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai
  • Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Chiang Mai
  • Wat Ketkaram Museum, Chiang Mai
  • Baan Sao Nak, Lampang
  • Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Si Satchanalai
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Sukhothai

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