December 21, 2012 |
On the last night of the S.S. Coachella, Josh Tillman sat before a couple of dozen fiction fans, a rare sight on a ship devoted to irony-soaked hedonism. They'd assembled in Michael's, the manly smoking-jacket-and-Scotch bar aboard the ship, for an event drolly billed as “Father John Misty reads selections from his favorite works of literature.” But Tillman, the singer-songwriter behind FJM, read from the novella printed in nearly illegible font in the liner notes of his album “Fear Fun.” It's a smart, bitterly amusing story about a guy sent to hell, where Satan shows him how to get around the place.
October 30, 2012 |
I've never been much of an Ian McEwan fan, but his post this week at the New Yorker's Page-Turner blog may make me think again. Here, McEwan writes in defense of that finest of all literary forms, the novella: “between twenty and forty thousand words, long enough for a reader to inhabit a world or a consciousness and be kept there, short enough to be read in a sitting or two and for the whole structure to be held in mind at first encounter.” ...
August 18, 2012 |
BOSTON - Donald Crockett is not the only composer partial to poetry, but his affinity runs especially deep. So much so that his first opera, "The Face," which will have its premiere at the Aratani / Japan America Theatre on Saturday, uses poems as source material. The poems in question are by David St. John, who like Crockett is a professor at USC. But the composer's admiration for his colleague's work transcends academic loyalty. "Music figures in David's poetry, and he's very attentive to relationships - particularly love," Crockett said, sitting in a hotel lobby near the New England Conservatory of Music, where rehearsals for "The Face" were taking place last month.
June 27, 2012 |
You can take Walter Mosley out of Los Angeles - in fact, Mosley did so himself, moving to New York decades ago - but you can't take L.A. out of Walter Mosley. The master of several genres keeps the city present, from his Easy Rawlins detective novels set in black postwar Los Angeles to the Greek-myths-in-South-Central elements in one of the two novellas in his latest volume. Mosley appeared to wrap it up with Rawlins in "Blonde Faith" in 2007, but five years later, he's found more for his most famous detective to do, just as Mosley has for himself.
January 8, 2012 |
Smut Stories Alan Bennett Picador: 152 pp., $14 paper Alan Bennett may be best known - both in this country and in his native England - as a playwright ("The History Boys," "The Madness of George III") and a television writer, but for me, his signature work remains the 2007 short novel "The Uncommon Reader. " In that book, Queen Elizabeth II discovers the discomforting pleasures of literature, with results that are disruptive to say the least. Before long, she is missing appointments and neglecting her appearance in the interest of getting a few more minutes to read.
September 25, 2011 |
Train Dreams A Novella Denis Johnson Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 116 pp., $18 It's a curious thing about Denis Johnson: For a writer I admire as much as (if not more than) any of his contemporaries, his books rarely come without faults. This may be most true of his Vietnam epic "Tree of Smoke," which never quite coalesces into something more than a pastiche, despite having won a 2007 National Book Award. Yet it also marks earlier novels, including the often brilliant "Resuscitation of a Hanged Man," an investigation of God as "the chief conspirator" that ultimately loses track of its internal logic, and "The Stars at Noon," which, taking place in 1980s Nicaragua, veers in and out of a beautiful derangement.