I was so disappointed by this book. Le Monde des Livres had declared that, in future, it would necessarily be read side-by-side with Camus’s The Stranger, to which it is meant as a corrective complement. In it, Daoud tells the story of a young man name Harun, the much-younger brother of the unnamed Arab whom Meursault murdered in The Stranger. Daoud asserts the victim’s humanity at last, giving him a name: Musa.

Harun is haunted by the memory of his older brother and the injustice of his killing, which their mother stubbornly has kept alive. At the end of the Algerian War (1954-1962), on the eve of the Algeria’s declaration of independence (July 5), Harun kills a Frenchman who has broken into his mother’s courtyard, as a   kind of random, delayed payback. I liked the perception Daoud puts in the mouth of a police officer who questions him after this killing. The officer says, “This Frenchman, you should have killed him with us, during the war, not last week!” When Harun, startled by such cynicism, suggests he may have killed the man at 2 in the morning on liberation day, and asks if that means the killing didn’t count—“…are we supposed to say the war was still going on, or had Independence already come?” —the officer slaps him.  It’s a rare instance in the book of clearly expressed irony. (The book, I should add, has been very nicely translated into English by John Cullen.)

It took courage for Kamel Daoud to write this novel, and I wanted to admire it, but I found the writing so muddled, repetitive and childish overall that I just could not. I think its impact would have been stronger as a counterfactual essay, not a novel.  For me,The Meursault Investigation serves as a foil to The Stranger, not as an equal companion piece.
In Other Words
A novelist's love affair with a new language yields a portrait of the artist elided by her fiction. Review by Liesl Schillinger.

Feb. 8, 2016, my review of Jhumpa Lahiri’s account of her magnificent obsession with the Italian language, IN OTHER WORDS (or IN ALTRE PAROLE)

anonymous asked:

Your blog is high quality trash/gold and I love seeing your posts on my dash. You're really sweet and everything you post is amazing. I hope you have an amazing day and may your household be blessed with cute kittens/puppies/whichever animal you like the most

I’m definitely a puppies girl, i basically resemble amy poehler in this gif at all times

but thank you this is really sweet and imma gonna go and hug my dog now <3

send me kind messages to distract me?

Sheer heaven. Tessa Hadley sends grown siblings to the country house where they once were children together, when their parents were alive. Her perceptions about deep rivalries, complicated love, the yearning to recapture what was, and the difficulty of breaking free of old patterns, evoke subtle Chopin nocturnes. Her writing here is like a delicate, sensitive canon of family memory and emotion. She does not lay a finger wrong.

hamilton-withpride asked:

25: In the past week, have you cried? 26: What colour is the shirt you are wearing? 27: Do people ever call you by your last name? 28: Is anyone ignoring you right now? 29: Do you have a best friend? 30: Would it be hard seeing someone else kiss the last person you kissed? 31: Who was your last call/text message from?

25. lol yes, quite a bit

26.  a black oversized tee shirt that hangs off my shoulder

27.  only really @chocolatechipjungkookies

28. i don’t think so, however yeah probably

29.  two, @schillinged and @chocolatechipjungkookies and they mean the world to me rn

30.  i say no but yea probs

31. @chocolatechipjungkookies, she’s talking about something kpop as per usual :)

send me some asks?

Because I’ve been a book critic for more than 20 years, books and galleys arrive unsolicited at my doorstep every day; sometimes 2 or 3, sometimes 6 or 8, sometimes more. Actually, they don’t always end up stacked by the door, sometimes I find them lined up atop the row of mailboxes in the lobby, or flung through my front window, which I keep cracked open so deliverymen don’t buzz my neighbors and annoy them.  Every time I come home, I go to the cat’s window-seat and clear it of padded envelopes.

Every now and then, one of these kamikaze books knocks me out. That happened this month when I opened Han Kang’s disturbing, hypnotic novel The Vegetarian, the story of a drab, angular, taciturn, overlookable South Korean woman named Yeong-hye, who descends (or perhaps climbs) into charismatic madness, a kind of suicidal self-empowerment, after she has a blood-drenched nightmare about being trapped in a forest of meat.  She becomes fanatically vegetarian, in a way that violently deforms the lives of the people connected to her, not to mention her own.

Yeong-hye’s story (deftly translated by Deborah Smith) is told in three parts, by three separate narrators— her husband, her brother-in-law, and her sister. Some have called this book Kafkaesque, taking a cue from its surreal strain, and doubtless thinking of his novella The Hunger Artist. But the chief undercurrents of this book are sexual and gender-based, which is not much like Kafka; and Kang does not show Kafka’s relish for the absurd. I see her proper literary ancestor as closer to Daphne DuMaurier, of The Birds, Rebecca, and the short story that became one of the most disconcerting films I’ve ever seen: Don’t Look Now.  The Vegetarian is not about meat, any more than The Hunger Artist is about anorexia.  It is about the fury that boils over in one woman who has seethed for too long in social shame, abusive family dynamics, subjugation, alienation, and sexual hangups. But because Han Kang is South Korean, and sets her story in Seoul, the references and imagery she conjures have a potent, foreign, destabilizing force; they awaken a jarring, hollow-stomached hunger for alien fixations that her western readers may not have imagined previously, but which they can understand, if not exactly share.

For instance: When Yeong-hye’s husband takes her, early in her mania, to an office banquet, he is humiliated when she sits mute, emaciated, among his colleagues and their wives, rejecting the sumptuous meat courses offered. To explain her eccentricity, and erase the insult she embodies to the tastes of the party, he lies— says she’s not vegetarian, she has (what we might call) dietary issues. Hearing this explanation, one guest says in relief, “I’d hate to share a meal with someone who considers eating meat repulsive,” adding, “Imagine you were snatching up a wriggling baby octopus with your chopsticks and chomping it to death—and the woman across from you glared like you were some kind of animal. That must be how it feels to sit down and eat with a vegetarian!”   Indeed, imagine…

Meanwhile, Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law is erotically obsessed with her blue Mongolian mark, the birthmark, “which appeared on the buttocks or backs of children, usually fading away long before adulthood,” but has remained preserved on Yeong-hye, in full color.  Who would have known of, thought of, this signifier, before reading this novel? And after Yeong-hye, during a violent episode, bleeds on her brother-in-law’s shirt, he notices that her blood has dried to “the dark, matte burgundy of red bean soup.”

Arresting, magnetic, resonant and strange, this book filled me with the unsettled feeling I get when I look at Odilon Redon’s frail, over-vivid poppies and anemones, whose deathly black centers, gravid and menacing, overwhelm and sap the bright, thin-petaled blooms around them. I read it in an uneasy, fascinated trance, unable to look away.

Sound Sync - Mary Ellen Bute

Although Mary Ellen Bute is a mostly unknown name today, she produced numerous abstact films based on the visualization of sound between 1934 and 1954. The popularity of her short, artistic film pieces came from them being shown in theatre’s alongside large scale films, guaranteeing exposure to a larger audience. She also had the added benefit of having her work Dada shown in the universal news reel in 1936, after seeing Oskar Fischinger’s work featured previously.

Working with Joseph Schillinger, whom produced the mathematical formula for the musical structure of songs, Mary was able to create her works with great precision in the synchronization of her imagery and sound. Even so, it is also blamed for the weakness of some of her work which has been critiqued to be a little unsuitable for the accompanying music, such as mood and tone.

Her technique was to work with colour and other conventional methods like animation with which she utilized for certain styles of expression within the video for the music. She also took an approach of combining science and art, using oscilloscopes from 1954 onwards to create interesting patterns which featured in her later works like Abstronic (1954), and some even included paintings she had done previously that had a surrealism quality to them. This was similar to how Norman McLaren used oscilloscopes in 1955 for abstract images in his film Around is Around.

What I find effective about this short clip is the visual language that use simple shapes to represent  the different characteristics of the music. Even though frustratingly the clips is quite short due to needing to pay for the full thing. I do like the visual style in that its quite similar to that of the title sequence for Dr.No. The criticism I have about this piece however (even though its not the entire clip) is that the movements of the shapes are not as exiting as the ones within examples from Oskar Fischinger, where the graphics are much more dynamic and interesting in moving with the variations in the music.
Etoilés du guide Michelin : Eric Straumann félicite Jean-Yves Schillinger
Eric Straumann, Président du Conseil départemental du Haut-Rhin, félicite chaleureusement Jean-Yves Schillinger, qui vient d’obtenir deux étoiles au guide Michelin pour son établissement le JY’s à Colmar. Cette récompense vient couronner le parcours personnel d’un chef aux talents multiples. Le JY’s rejoint ainsi les grandes tables haut-rhinoises doublement étoilées, Il Cortile à Mulhouse, le Chambard […]

A terrifically good psychological police drama, written by the great Richard Price, under the pseudo-pseudonym Harry Brandt. The paperback came out yesterday (Feb 9, 2016). Don’t be misled by the author name (this novel is pure Richard Price), or by the  title. The book is not about white people–that is, not about white-versus-black policing dynamics. The “whites” of the title refer to half a dozen murderers who got away with their crimes, who haunt half a dozen  cops who tried, and failed, to bring them to justice.  The cops in question are a band of police detectives who met on the graveyard shift, the “night watch,” in New York City in the 90s. Twenty years on, the protagonist of this story, a decent, dogged cop named Billy Graves, who fumbled his career early on and  never completely recovered (he killed a kid by accident, possibly while he was coked up), notices that the night watch’s “whites” are being killed, picked off, one by one. Who’s going after them? Obsessed by ethics, likely because of his own long-ago lapse, he suspects his former buddies, and tries to figure out who’s killing whom, and why. He stirs up old wounds by visiting the families of the victims’ ‘whites’; and contacting the ‘whites’ themselves, alienating his old buddies in the process. As in “Clockers” and “Lush Life,” the investigation is complicated by family history, interpersonal tensions and individual weaknesses (alcohol, anger, depression), which lie beneath the surface like fox traps under leaves, ready to snap the ankles of cops and perps alike. Billy has a wife, Carmen, and two little kids, Declan and Carlos. As his sleuthwork advances, he risks bringing vengeance on his family.  His wife, Carmen, her nerves stretched to breaking point, seems in some way to welcome, or to expect, the possibility of retribution. Who is guilty; and of what? Can Billy solve the mystery in time to save his family?  And, bigger question: who is innocent? Is anyone?

Les 54 nouveaux étoilés du Michelin 2016

La dernière édition du guide rouge a sacré deux nouveaux restaurants de trois macarons. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée et Le Cinq, sous la houlette du chef Christian Le Squer au George-V, ont rejoint, lundi 1er février, le prestigieux club des trois-étoiles français, qui compte vingt-six établissements dans l’édition 2016, autant qu’en 2015.

Concernant les deux-étoiles, dix nouvelles adresses font leur entrée en 2016, dont cinq à Paris : La Grande Maison – Joël Robuchon (Bordeaux) ; JY’S (Jean-Yves Schillinger, Colmar) ; 1920 (Julien Gatillon, Megève) ; Paloma (Nicolas Decherchi, Mougins) ; Sylvestre (Sylvestre Wahid, Paris 7e) ; Le Gabriel (Jérôme Banctel, Paris 8e) ; Le Grand Restaurant (Jean-François Piège, Paris 8e) ; L’Abeille (Christophe Moret, Paris 16e) ; Histoires (Mathieu Pacaud, Paris 16e) ; Villa René Lalique (Jean-Georges Klein, Wingen-sur-Moder).

La moisson des une-étoile est la plus fertile avec 42 nouveaux établissements qui vont fièrement arborer leur premier macaron à travers l’Hexagone.

  • Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine

L’Arnsbourg à Baerenthal (57) ; Au Crocodile à Strasbourg (67).

  • Aquitaine, Limousin, Poitou-Charentes

Dyades à Massignac (16) ; Les Belles Perdrix à Troplong-Mondot à Saint-Emilion (33) ; Le Pressoir d’Argent - Gordon Ramsay à Bordeaux (33).

  • Auvergne, Rhône-Alpes

L’Esquisse à Annecy (74) ; 1217 (Château de Bagnols) à Bagnols (69) ; Le Passe-Temps à Lyon (69) ; PRaiRiaL à Lyon (69) ; Le Refuge des gourmets à Machilly (74) ; Le Clocher des pères à Saint-Martin-sur-la-Chambre (73) ; Raphaël Vionnet Thonon-les-Bains (74) ; Le P’tit Polype (au Chalet Mounier) à Venosc - Les Deux-Alpes (38).

  • Bourgogne, Franche-Comté

Le Carmin à Beaune (21) ; La Maison des cariatides à Dijon (21) avec le plus jeune chef primé : Angelo Ferrigno, 23 ans.

  • Bretagne

Les Trois Rochers à Sainte-Marine/Bénodet (29) ; Maison Tirel Guérin à La Gouesnière (35) ; Le Château de sable à Porspoder (29) ; Allium à Quimper (29) ; Rackham à Roscoff (29).

  • Corse 

I (…)

Lire la suite sur

Angelo Ferrigno, plus jeune chef de la cuvée 2016 à être distingué d’une étoile
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I read this book having no knowledge of what it was about–simply because I liked Frayn’s farce “Noises Off,” and his serious (Stasi) play “Democracy,” and was curious about his fiction. I didn’t know “The Trick of It” would be an epistolary novel; I didn’t know it would be the story of a waspish, clever, highly articulate but essentially ordinary academic who falls for the famous, (older) woman author who is the subject of his life’s work.; nor did I anticipate how wickedly satisfying the progress and denouement of this tale would be for… say… any woman who has been plagued by a suitor who turns competitor. There, I’ve said too much. (And in way too long a sentence.) But it was SUCH a fun book.

I’ve been wanting to read Modiano since he won the Nobel Prize two years ago, and finally am getting going. I have 2 Modiano novels from NYRB on my shelf that I’m reading next, but I started with this screenplay (Other Press, forthcoming in May) for the movie “Lacombe Lucien”, which Modiano wrote for Louis Malle.  (Thanks to J.P. Smith for setting me straight on this). The setting is rural France, 1944. Lucien Lacombe is a bluff, brusque 17-year-old who goes wrong in that poignant Auden way– like the children “who did not specially want it to happen.” His father’s gone in the the war, his mother  has taken up with what amounts to a local seigneur, so there’s no place Lucien belongs. (Think of that closing scene of The 400 Blows , only Lucien is kind of a thug, harder to pity.) Seeking some kind of affiliation, Lucien tries to get into the Resistance; when that effort fails, he gloms on to a group of venal, fatuous and (some of them) brutal Nazi collaborators. Soon he starts harassing a prosperous Jewish tailor, Monsieur Horn, though it’s not clear that Lucien has any objective beyond looking like a tough guy. But when Lucien falls for the tailor’s daughter, his rapport with the Horns becomes more complicated, though it is beyond his powers to analyze it. The boy does not seem to understand the likely consequences of his actions with the Horns or of his involvement with the base Nazi collaborators. He is a jerk, but he’s also confused, neglected, unripe—and mixed up with vile company. You feel some sympathy for him, even as you sense that he’s unsalvageable. The story inhabits an Intriguing moral gray zone. I look forward to reading Modiano’s actual novels (next up, In the Cafe of Lost Youth); but this screenplay is graceful and potent, reminded me a bit, actually of Irène Nemirovsky (Suite Française).

And…..introducing POETRY FRIDAYS.  Kate Tempest, the young (30) British poet, spoken-word artist, and, lately, novelist (her début, The Bricks That Built The Houses, comes out in May) is an electrifying, blood-stirring bard for everyday people. Hearing her onstage, in sneakers and torn jeans, rhythmically shout-speaking her story-verse while pacing with pent energy, is like having an audience with an oracle. When I saw her last summer on Governor’s Island, I felt myself in the presence of Janis Joplin, reincarnated…or maybe Athena.  Her book-length poem  Brand New Ancients (Bloomsbury) is one you should read at once if you haven’t yet— then read it again— and by the way, read it aloud. Why should you bother? Because: “The stories are here,/ the stories are you,/ and your fear/ and your hope/ is as old/ as the language of smoke.” Brand New Ancients relays the ordinary, yet, in Tempest’s telling, archetypal, stories of a handful of British men and women who struggle to get along and to get by, hobbled by bad childhoods, bad jobs, and bad relationships; aspiring, failing, screwing up; then stubbornly trying to recover and rise, to endure. Her invocation to this modern fable begins: “In the old days/the myths were the stories we used to explain ourselves/ But how can we explain the way we hate ourselves,/ the things we’ve made ourselves into,/ the way we break ourselves in two,/ the way we overcomplicate ourselves?/ But we are still mythical./ We are still permanently trapped somewhere between the heroic and the pitiful./ We are still godly;/ that’s what makes us so monstrous.” Sing it, sister.  What meter, what conscience, what anger, what vision. This lyric began as a performance piece, but Tempest caught its heels in the charged atmosphere hovering above her voice and pulled it to the page, thank God, or rather, Apollo.  I leave you (spoiler) with my favorite stanza:

Yes, the gods are on the park bench, the gods are on the bus,

the gods are all here, the gods are in us.

The Gods are timeless, fearless, fighting to be bold,

conviction is a heavy hand to hold,

grip it, winged sandals tearing up the pavement—

you, me everyone: Brand New Ancients

In  Timur Vermes’s outrageous and unnervingly plausible (in some ways) black comedy Look Who’s Back, Adolf Hitler ‘wakes’ in Berlin, his body and mustache intact, in the year 2011. Looking around, wondering where his Reich went, he fumes when he spots sloppily dressed Hitlerjugend (so he assumes them to be) playing soccer nearby, and they fail to salute him. The adults he meets mistake him for a Hitler lookalike from some WWII documentary—like an improved Bruno Ganz (viz,“Downfall”). And of course, since he is Hitler, and is never for a moment out of character, they marvel at the sustained brilliance of his acting. When a man impressed by his talent asks if he’s got a card, or any flyers, Hitler, misunderstanding, responds dejectedly, “Don’t talk to me about the Luftwaffe. In the end they were a complete failure.” The man laughs; but Hitler, swiftly sussing the spirit of the times, soon lands his own TV show and acquires a vast following of disgruntled citizens who respond to his distinctly un-PC, populist straight talk. The internet brings the fictional Führer phenomenal popularity with a speed that Goebbels, with thousands of paid propagandists at his beck, could not have dreamed of–and all for free.

With this book, Vermes shockingly presents something the world may not yet be ready to contemplate or accept: proof that Germans can be funny. The novel, a bestseller in Germany, England, the United States and elsewhere, is infernally well done, though it is of course offensive in its premise, and some readers will be incensed by the jokes. That said, the humor, double entendres and absurd situations Vermes deploys reach the heights of the best Hitler humor efforts, as in the films The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin) and To Be Or Not to Be (Lubitsch), or  the 1970s TV series Fawlty Towers (“Don’t mention the War…”) It’s not even too much to call these heights Waughian (as in Scoop).

It’s extremely hard to successfully translate humor from one culture to another, much less from one language (especially German) to another. But Vermes pulls it off; and the book’s English translator, Jamie Bulloch (I almost put Bullock, thinking of the British Hitler historian, Alan Bullock) acquits himself admirably. Reading this book n the New York subway, though, I admit I hid it within a magazine, wanting to conceal its cover, which from a distance, looks like…well (see above). But Look Who’s Back is eminently worth reading for those who have a taste for satire, and who take a wry view of human nature. The movie version, by the way, will be coming to you on Netflix on April 9th.