reluctance to draw from life

“Why am I so reluctant to draw from life, and why do I look for any excuse not to? It’s hard to tell the truth about anything, or to portray oneself in terms of something else. What I try to do is to say with painting something more than what the eye sees. My paintings are not so much paintings in themselves as parts of a table, objects of a drawing able, the painter’s work table. The pencils and other things I do are there to say that this is not a painting of mine but a painting by someone else, maybe a painting by ‘that painter’ but not by me. In that case, I’m more an orchestra conductor than a painter doing a painting. My work says something about something else, if it’s painting it says something about painting, not about the fact that this is what it is. If I use a rubber stamp on the painting, I do it to show that this paint is not real paint, it’s a symbol of the thing painted, just as the stamp is a symbol of the man. I’m not sure whether this is a sign of modesty or the reverse.”

(Saul Steinberg & Aldo Buzzi, Reflections and Shadows, trans. John Shepley, p. 71.)

may 1–15, 2020

Books

  • Manuel Puig, The Buenos Aires Affair, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine
  • Shirley Hazzard, The Evening of the Holiday
  • Jean Cocteau, My Contemporaries, trans. Margaret Crosland
  • Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
  • Chester Himes, The Crazy Kill
  • Chester Himes, Plan B
  • Chester Himes, Pinktoes
  • Christine Chia, The Law of Second Marriages
  • Christine Chia, Separation: A History
  • Michael Dibdin, A Long Finish
  • Paco Ignacio Taibo II, An Easy Thing, trans. Willie Neuman
  • Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Some Clouds, trans. Willie Neuman
  • Michael Dibdin, Blood Rain

Films

  • Dial M for Murder, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Robinson Crusoe, dir. Luis Buñuel

april 16–31, 2020

Books

  • Primo Levi, The Wrench, translated by William Weaver
  • Michael Dibdin, Dead Lagoon
  • Evelyn Waugh, The Loved One
  • Primo Levi, Moments of Reprieve, trans. Ruth Feldman
  • Michael Dibdin, Così fan tutti
  • Eimear McBride, Strange Hotel
  • Gianrico Carofiglio, Involuntary Witness, trans. Patrick Creagh
  • Sabrina Orah Mark, Wild Milk
  • Don Mee Choi, DMZ Colony
  • Cyril Wong, Satori Blues
  • S. C. Gordon, Harbouring
  • Anthony Burgess, Beard’s Roman Women
  • Hafiz Hamzah, Blooms of Ire, trans. Ede A. Hamid
  • Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Evelyn Waugh, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold
  • Gianrico Carofiglio, A Walk in the Dark, trans. Howard Curtis
  • Maurice Sachs, Witches’ Sabbath, trans. Richard Howard
  • Evelyn Waugh, Love Among the Ruins
  • V. S. Naipaul, The Mystic Masseur
  • Richard Kennedy, A Boy at the Hogarth Press
  • Valerio Varesi, River of Shadows, trans. Joseph Farrell

Films

  • True Grit, directed by Henry Hathaway
  • The Ladykillers, dir. Alexander McKendrick
  • Jane, dir. Brett Morgen
  • The Kid Brother, dir. Ted Wilde
  • Portrait of Jennie, dir. William Dieterle
  • Joe Versus the Volcano, dir. John Patrick Shanley
  • Death on the Nile, dir. John Guillermin
  • Evil under the Sun, dir. Guy Hamilton
  • Appointment with Death, dir. Michael Winner

april 1–15, 2020

Books

  • Michael Dibdin, Cabal
  • Emmanuel Carrère, 97, 196 Words, translated by John Lambert
  • Boileau-Narcejac, Vertigo, trans. Geoffrey Sainsbury
  • Boileau-Narcejac, She Who Was No More, trans. Geoffrey Sainsbury
  • Piero Chiara, The Bishop’s Bedroom, trans. Jill Foulston
  • Patrick Modiano, Young Once, trans. Damion Searls
  • Jean-Philippe Blondel, The 6:41 to Paris, trans. Alison Anderson
  • Boileau-Narcejac, Choice Cuts, trans. Brian Rawson
  • Leonardo Sciascia, Salt in the Wound, trans. Judith Green
  • J. G. Ballard, Vermilion Sands
  • John Crowley, Totalitopia
  • Elio Viottorini, In Sicily, trans. Wilfrid David
  • Cordwainer Smith, Nostrilia
  • Leonardo Sciascia, The Death of the Inquisitor, trans. Judith Green
  • Alberto Savinio, Childhood of Nivasio Dolcemare, trans. Richard Pevear
  • Samuel R. Delany, The Atheist in the Attic

Films

  • Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • The Bank Dick, dir. Edward F. Cline & Ralph Ceder
  • Sons of the Desert, dir. William A. Seiter
  • The Green Fog, dir. Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson
  • Murder on the Orient Express, dir. Sidney Lumet
  • Rasing Arizona, dir. Joel Coen
  • Way Out West, dir. James W. Horne

before printing

“Before Printing, Old-wives Tales were ingeniose, and since Printing came in fashion, till a little before he Civill-warres, the ordinary sort of People were not taught to reade. Now-a-dayes Bookes are common, and most of the poor people understand letters; and the may good Bookes, and variety of Turnes of Affaires, have putt all the old Fables out of doors: and the divine art of Printing and Gunpowder have frighted away Robin-good-fellowe and the Fayries.”

(quoted in Oliver Lawson Dick’s “The Life and Times of John Aubrey,” p. xliii in the Vintage Aubrey’s Brief Lives; this is cited elsewhere as being from B. L. Lansdowne Ms. 231, fol. 140r.)

march 16–31, 2020

Books

  • Natalia Ginzburg, The City and the House, translated by Dick Davis
  • Theodore Sturgeon, The Dreaming Jewels
  • Brad Fox, To Remain Nameless
  • Fred Vargas, The Chalk Circle Man, trans. Siân Reynolds
  • Fred Vargas, The Three Evangelists, trans. Siân Reynolds
  • Fred Vargas, Dog Will Have His Day, trans. Siân Reynolds
  • Fred Vargas, The Accordianist, trans. Siân Reynolds
  • Michael Dibdin, Ratking
  • Michael Dibdin, Vendetta

Films

  • The Last Man on Earth, directed by Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow
  • Panic in the Streets, dir. Elia Kazan

march 1–15, 2020

Books

  • J. G. Ballard, High-Rise
  • Aleksandar Hemon, My Parents: An Introduction/This Does Not Belong to You
  • Jacques Rancière, Short Voyages to the Land of the People, translated by James B. Swenson
  • Dante Alighieri, Hell: Dante’s Divine Trilogy Part One Decorated and Englished in Prosaic Verse, trans. Alasdair Gray
  • Primo Levi, Flaw of Form, trans. Jenny McPhee
  • Frederick Rolfe, Baron Corvo, An Ossuary of the North Lagoon, and Other Stories
  • Gerald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals
  • Gerald Durrell, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives
  • Gerald Durrell, The Garden of the Gods
  • John Bayley, Elegy for Iris
  • Cristina Rivera Garza, The Iliac Crest, trans. Sarah Booker
  • Monique Truong, The Sweetest Fruits
  • Primo Levi, The Truce, trans. Stuart Woolf

Films

  • Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), directed by Céline Sciamma
  • The Souvenir, dir. Joanna Hogg
  • Uncut Gems, dir. Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie

february 15–29, 2020

Books

  • Dexter Palmer, Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
  • Charles Portis, Masters of Atlantis
  • Charles Portis, Norwood
  • Francesco Pacifico, Class
  • Amelia Rosselli, Obtuse Diary, translated by Deborah Woodard, Roberta Antognini & Dario De Pasquale
  • Primo Levi, Natural Histories, trans. Jenny McPhee
  • Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honorable Defeat
  • Elias Canetti, Party in the Blitz: The English Years, trans. Michael Hofmann

not-knowing, not-seeing, not-understanding

“E così fu luce esatta: si convinse d’aver trovato la sua dimensione vitale: il non sapere, il non vedere, il non capire.”

“And thus there was exact light: she convinced herself of having found her vital dimension: the not-knowing, the not-seeing, the not-understanding.”

(Amelia Rosselli, Obtuse Diary, trans. Deborah Woodard, Roberta Antognini & Dario De Pasquale, pp. 74–5.)

february 1–14, 2020

Books

  • Norman Lewis, In Sicily
  • Elena Ferrante, Incidental Inventions, translated by Ann Goldstein
  • Micheline Aharonian Marcom, A Brief History of Yes
  • Garth Greenwell, Cleanness
  • Cristina Rivera Garza, The Taiga Syndrome, trans. Suzanne Jill Levine & Aviva Kana
  • Marguerite Duras, Me & Other Writing, trans. Emma Ramadan & Olivia Baes
  • Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Urgency and Patience: Essays, trans. Edward Gauvain
  • Norman Lewis, Jackdaw Cake: An Autobiography
  • Norman Lewis, I Came, I Saw: An Autobiography
  • August Kleinzahler, Cutty, One Rock
  • Nina Leger, The Collection, trans. Laura Francis
  • Zoë Lescaze, Paleoart: Visions of the Prehistoric Past
  • Charles Portis, The Dog of the South

Films

  • The Witch, directed by Robert Eggers
  • The Lighthouse, dir. Robert Eggers