june 16–30, 2023


  • Leonardo Sciascia, To Each His Own, translated by Adrienne Foulke
  • Robert Plunket, My Search for Warren Harding
  • Patrick Modiano, Scene of the Crime, trans. Mark Polizzotti
  • Henry James, The Aspern Papers
  • Thea Lenarduzzi, Dandelions
  • Nick Pinkerton, Goodbye, Dragon Inn
  • Rex Stout, Over My Dead Body
  • Dino Buzzati, The Stronghold, trans. Lawrence Venuti
  • Mitch Sisskind, Do Not Be a Gentleman When You Say Goodnight


  • Aprile, directed by Nanni Moretti
  • Il deserto rosso (Red Desert), dir. Michelangelo Antonioni
  • 不散 (Goodbye, Dragon Inn), dir. Tsai Ming-liang
  • They All Laughed, dir. Peter Bogdanovich
  • Daisy Miller, dir. Peter Bogdanovich

I made my way through most of Henry James’s novels a few years ago, leaving off after The Wings of the Dove, with The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl still outstanding. I keep meaning to go back, though it’s taken a while; rewatching Rivette’s Céline and Julie Go Boating a few months ago, I found myself searching out the short stories behind that, and now I find myself going b

ack to James in general – his depictions of hapless Americans bumbling through Europe seem like they might be of consideration when so much of my life is spent around hapless Americans and Europeans bumbling through Asia – though how long I can keep up that enthusiasm is not clear to me; reading the New York Edition introduction to The Ambassadors might put anyone off of reading entirely. Lately I’ve been re-reading the shorter novels; the impetus for The Aspern Papers was Robert Plunket’s My Search for Warren Harding, a Charles Portis-y transposition of the plot of that book into Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Peter Bogdanovich’s filmed version of Daisy Miller – I hadn’t seen most of his work after Paper Moon – is almost slavishly faithful to the original, and loses something by that fidelity. They All Laughed is an odd mess, a picture of 1981 New York where everyone is listening to country music and rollerskating when they are not falling into bed with each other.

I’m glad there’s a new translation of Buzzati’s Il deserto dei Tartari; I can’t say that I care for the title – “The Tartar Steppe” is much more evocative – and I’m not sure that the translation seems to me like a marked improvement over the old one, though more versions are always better. NYRB has also reprinted Joseph Green’s translation of A Love Affair, which I don’t think I’ve read, though I might be forgetting things.

Fireflies Press’s short books on films are fantastic and beautifully produced; it took me a while to get around to reading Nick Pinkerton’s book on Goodbye, Dragon Inn, though it was worth the wait, a thoughtful consideration on the place of the theater in watching films. I should get a copy of Dennis Lim’s Tale of Cinema, which came out when I wasn’t paying attention.

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