After the look back at the past year (here and here) it is time to look ahead at some of the reading to come in 2014 (theoretically).
Nate Silver's 2012 The Signal and the Noise is a look at the application of statistics to everyday prediction making and how data is converted into knowledge.
Chrystia Freeland, a finance journalist, writes about the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. in the U.S., the consolidation of power into the hands of fewer and fewer persons across the globe, even as we continue to holler the word 'democracy' and try to sell it to the highest bidder.
A companion piece to the above, Mark Mizruchi's book, argues that the influence of America's CEO's has changed since World War II from a consolidated force driven by civic responsibility to a fragmented group uninterested in using their power to tackle the "big issues."
I'm really looking forward to Robert Page's synthesis of the work uncovering the genetic and physiological mechanisms which underlie bees' collective societies and how their social behavior evolved.
British social historian Theodore Zeldin wrote in 1994 about the forces that shape humanity in what is meant to be a ranging, unsentimental, and learned volume.
The thesis of Ian Buruma's latest, Year Zero, is that 1945 was the founding year of our modern era. His narrative has a dual focus on world events and on the biography of his father, who was imprisoned by the Nazis, spending much of World War II in Berlin.
This book was a gift from a friend and colleague in celebration of the completion of my PhD. I love it when a friend is willing to pick a book to give as a gift instead of giving a bookstore gift card. Described as a seductive love story, a satirical epic about the middle class, a comedy about the interior world of a cuckold, like Joyce, Baron Munchhausen, and the Marx Brothers, this work, published in 1968, is now considered a classic. I can't wait!
Alberto Moravia's Contempt was the basis of a Jean-Luc Goddard film. It is rumored to be a "caustic dispatch from one man's self-made hell." While this isn't likely to be a laugh-riot, it is meant to be psychologically astute and an unflinching look at a failing marriage.
I was introduced to the writing of James Purdy when his collected stories came out in 2013. I haven't actually decided which of his novels to read first, but this one about the dual forces of creativity and self-destructiveness in a mother and daughter is drawing me. His prose is astonishingly plain and clear - Jo Ann Beard and Joan Didion both came to mind as I dipped into it, which is promising.
I have really enjoyed some of Kathryn Davis's strange, other-worldly novels, so I am hopeful about Duplex which apears to be part social examination of suburbia, part time-travel. Hmmmm.
The winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, The Luminaries, by New Zealander Eleanor Catton may be up next. I am chomping at the bit to start this 800-page saga - part mystery, part 19th century nautical novel, part adventure, part ghost story.
Ah, so many books, so many plans. I wish you all a 2014 full of curiosity and wonder, fueled by good reading.
Bookeywookey is the blog of Ted Altschuler who directs Baruch Performing Arts Center. His NY life straddles the worlds of creating interdisciplinary programming, directing theatre and opera, coaching acting, neuroscience, music, reading, and compulsive book acquiring by any means necessary.
I do the writing here. I do not endorse products, services, post advertising, accept comments with commercial links, or invite guest posts. I'm happy to accept review copies but will say exactly what I think. Anything I write about books, acting, neuroscience, or my other fascinations reflects my thoughts on the matter, not that of any institution I work for, and is certainly not meant as advice.
Ali Smith's Artful is art criticism but it's also a dialogue between a woman and her dead lover, and it was originally delivered as a series of lectures, which really means it is a dramatic dialogue. It is a masterpiece of integrity, Smith may be well read, but her take on Dicken's Oliver Twist or a Cezanne painting, or a Charlie Chaplin film, or a Wallace Stevens's poem, is never erudite. She doesn't mean to dazzle us with her greater knowledge of these subjects, she wants her listener to get inside of how art brings us experience. I challenge you to get to the last page of Artful and not dive for a copy of Oliver Twist, or immediately order a copy of Sylvia Plath's poems. Read my full rave here.
Bernard MacLaverty's Cal - 150 pages that are as densely packed with passion and tension as any I've read in Dostoyevsky or Hardy. The 19-year-old title character lives in Northern Ireland. A Roman Catholic, he is hounded and physically attacked by the Protestant Orangemen. His friends have joined the IRA in response to the violence with which they are threatened. Cal finds the violence too much for him. The struggles of nations would not be important if they didn't effect the lives of individual people. This book is about the converging of conflicts political and personal - the political and religious struggles of an oppressed people, a first great passionate love, and the dilemmas of a sensitive and thoughtful teenager as he makes the moral choices that are going to shape his whole life. I felt deeply the greatness of these struggles as I read. Read my full rave here.
This book has everything - love, suspense, moral conflict, social criticism, psychological acuity, and crack writing - but none of it is expected. It is pitch-perfect on the a fast-paced, ostentatious, brutal beauty of Rome. Lambert's writing is rich with observations both interior and exterior that imbue character and place with clarity and instantaneous complexity. This novel, though entertaining to read, is an unambiguous critique of the moral hypocrisy that infects the powerful and the nature of that crime, which combines an abuse of power with the dehumanization of innocent people. Read my full rave here.
Molly Fox is a celebrated actress - a woman who delves deep into what makes up a 'self.' It is her profession to create characters from that knowledge through the medium of her self. Yet, when it comes to letting others truly know her, she does not. 'Can we ever know another?', this novel asks. The Irish novelist Deirdre Madden fashions a deep and beautiful book on this potentially abstract musing that is redolent with the pain of the distance we have from all others - even those we love most - and simultaneously rich with the rewards of the communion we can make through long acquaintance. She is particularly good at using the processes of the actor and writer to reflect on the ways we can inhabit the inherent contradiction of knowing another, but the mechanisms are so integrated with the events of this narrative that it is difficult to reveal them without ruining your own reading of this book. This book is a powerful work of art with an undisturbable sense of wholeness. Read my full rave here.
The struggle to keep the champagne bubbling when it's gone flat is the action filling Evelyn Waugh's 1930 satire Vile Bodies. Stephen Fry's brilliant film adaptation, Bright Young Things released in 2003 captures the feel of one, breathless, manic party. Jim Broadbent, Stockard Channing, Peter O'Toole, Simon Callow, Stephen Campbell Moore, Emily Mortimer, James Mcavoy, Imelda Stuanton, and Fenella Woolgar are some of the beautifully cast actors who maintain an understated hysteria, if you can imagine understated hysteria. The love that director and cast have for these characters is what impresses me the most. It would be so easy to show us how vile these people are - how silly, how louche, how fey - but instead they love them to death. Raveworthy. Read my full rave here.
Human beings are messy and that's why Michel Gondry's film The Science of Sleep, with its hyperactive imagination, its beautiful cast and designers, reveals the inner life of its characters with such accuracy and tenderness. Utterly beautiful. Read my post.
Tell Me Everything by Sarah Salway . I opened this book last night and didn't stop reading it until I had finished it. The nearest voice I can think to compare Sarah Salway's to is Lorrie Moore's, and coming from me that is a big compliment. In it Molly experiences a few breaches of trust as a young woman that leave her seriously wounded. She closes down and protects herself by eating. When we meet her she has become one of life's castaways, seriously overweight without a job, a home, or any sense of herself. She meets five people - Mr. Roberts who gives her a job, Mrs. Roberts, Tim - a man of mystery, Liz - a librarian who recommends French authors, and Miranda, a hairdresser. With these relationships she begins to reclaim herself. The story is full of perfectly wrought descriptions, complex observations of human pain and fantasy, and cogent storytelling. Read my full rave here.
Read in '19
2. Transcription - Atkinson
1. Paris Echo - Faulks
Seen in '19
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) - film
4. The Aesthetics of Learning - Mishkin Gallery
3. Train with no Midnight - PROTOTYPE
2. 4:48 Psychosis - PROTOTYPE
1. Otello - Met Opera
Read in '18
52. The Sum of Things - Manning
51. The Battle Lost and Won - Manning
50. The Danger Tree - Manning
49. Cry it Out - Metzler
48. Half of a Yellow Sun - Adichie
47. The Shining - King
46. The Fledgling - Butler
45. Melmoth - Perry
44. The Haunting of Hill House - Jackson
43. Red Light Winter - Rapp
42. Nocturne - Rapp
41. The Biological Mind - Jasanoff
40. The Witch Elm - French
39. Washington Black - Edugyan
38. Another Life - Kallifatides
37. The End of Eddy - Louis
35. The Color of Law - Rothstein
34. A Fatal Grace - Penny
33. Ants Among Elephants - Gidla
32. Bellevue Square - Redhill
31. The Great Believers - Makkai
30. The Shepherd's Hut - Winton
29. School of Velocity - Rubin
28. The Water Will Come - Goodell
27. Returing to Reims - Eribon
26. The Heather Blazing - Toibin
25. The Blackwater Lightship - Toibin
24. Still Life - Penny
23. Roert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire - Jamison
22. Wilberforce - Cross
21. The South - Toibin
20. A Mind to Murder - James
19. Magpie Murders - Horowitz
18. Underground Fugue - Singer
17. The Overstory - Powers
16. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears - Mengestu
15. The Changeling - Lavalle
14. The Diamond Setter - Sakal
13. American Pastoral - Roth
12. Aunt Dan and Lemon - Shawn
11. Asymmetry - Halliday
10. The Sparsholt Affair - Hollinghurst
9. The River of Consciousness - Sacks
8. Keeping on Keeping On - Bennett
7. The Cherry Orchard - Chekhov
6. The Odyssey - Homer (trans Wilson)
5. An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic - Mendelsohn
4. Becoming Myself - Yalom
3. The Dark Flood Rises - Drabble
2. Sergio Y. - Vidal Porto
1. Quick and Nimble - Bryant
Seen in '18
83. Dunkirk (2017) - film
82. Roma (2018) - film
81. The Favourite (2018) - film
80. Clueless - The New Group
79. Messiah - Trinity Choir
78. Wild Goose Dreams - Public Theater
77. Cinevardaphoto (2004) - film
76. Il Trittico - Met Opera
75. La Pointe Courte (1954) - film
74. The Waverly Gallery - Bway
73. Alex Truelove (2018) - film
72. Mefistofele - Met Opera
71. Julius Caesar - National Theatre
70. The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) - film
69. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) - film
68. Uncle Vanya - Hunter Theater Project
67. Anna (2014) - film
66. Little Men (2016) - film
65. Marnie - Met Opera
64. The Tenant - Joyce Theatre
63. The Zookeeper's Wife (2017) - film
62. Oklahoma! - St Ann's Warehouse
61. La Fanciulla del West - Met Opera
60. Things to Come (2016) - film
59. The Dybbuk - Gesher Theatre
58. Trio Solisti - Weill Recital Hall
57. Visages Villages (2017) - film
56. Radio Galaxy
55. Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay - Whitney Museum
54. David Wojnarawicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night - Whitney Museum
53. The True - The New Group
52. Elle (2016) - film
51. Bernhardt/Hamlet - Roundabout Theatre
50. Black Panther (2018) film
49. When We Were Young (2014) film
48. La Douleur (2017) - film
47. God's Own Country (2017) film
46. The Damned - Park Ave Armory
45. La Boheme - Royal Opera House Covent Garden
44. Ernst Ludwig Kirschner - Stattsgalerie Stuttgart
43. An Octoroon - National Theatre London
42. Rijks Museum
41. All too Huma - Bacon, Freud and a century of Painting Life - Tate Britain
40. Aftermath - Art in the Wake of World War I - Tate Britain
39. The Wallace Collection
38. Somewhere in Between - Wellcome Collection
37. Love and Intrigue - Maly Theatre at BAM
36. This is Modern Art - Blessed Unrest
35. Demolition (2015) - film
34. My Fair Lady - Lincoln Ctr Theater
33. Peace for Mary Frances - New Group Theater
32. The New Museum
31. Genius (2016) - film
30. A Pink Chair - The Wooster Group
29. Grant Wood: American Gothic & Other Fables - Whitney Museum
28. Assembled Identity - HERE
27. Judas - Phoenix Theatre Ensemble
26. One of Us (2017) - film
25. Cendrillon - Met Opera
24. Light Shining in Buckinghamshire - NYTW
23. Trio Vitruvi - Weil Hall
22. Three Tall Women - Bway
21. Yerma - Park Ave Armory
20. The Lucky Ones - Ars Nova
19. Swiss Army Man (2016) - film
18. Perestroika - Bway
17. Todd Almond - Joe's Pub
16. Paul Taylor Dance
15. The Lobster (2015) - film
14. Pyramo e Thisbe - The Little Opera Co
13. Paul Taylor Dance
12. Good for Otto - The New Group
11. Platonov - Blessed Unrest
10. This is the Color Described by the Time - New Georges
9. Jerry Springer - The Opera - New Group Theater
8. The Desire|Divinity Project - Judson
7. Farinelli and the King - Bway
6. Sheila - The Associates
5. Penny Arcade - Longing Lasts Longer - Pangea
4. Fellow Travelers - Prototype Festival
3. This Beautiful Fantastic (2016) - film
2. Conte d'Hiver (1992) - film
1. Brooklyn Rider/Aaron Diehl Trio Concert - Steinway Hall
Read in '17
37. The Golden Age - London
36. Call Me By Your Name - Aciman
35. Go, Went, Gone - Erpenbeck
34. Origin - Brown
33. Curtains? The Future of the Arts in America - Kaiser
In-flo-res-cence - from the Latin inflorescere - to begin to blossom. 1. the producing of blossoms; flowering; 2. the arrangement of flowers on a stem or axis; 3. a flower cluster on a common axis; 4. flowers collectively; 5. a solitary flower, regarded as a reduced cluster.