The Universal Teat

If you have not read “Grapes of Wrath” and for some reason plan on doing so, stop reading this. If, on the other hand, you would like to be spared the load but are curious about its classical buzz, read on.

“Grapes of Wrath” is like a fat Oreo: delicious chocolate crunch on each end, white sappy soap mush in the middle. The last paragraph of the book, after four hundred pages of soapy sap, may be the best thing that’s happened to me in book form. In it, Rose of Sharon, once prodigal daughter, later pregnant abandoned wife, nurses a half-starved man. She has milk to give because hours before she gives birth to a stillborn during a devastating flood.

I would say that the image of this wrecked woman, who was probably hot, bringing a doomed man back from the brink of death by the power of her breasts is why the book endures the test of time. Also why they made a movie about it right away.

In all seriousness, I am glad I read it. The first hundred pages are breathtaking. The last fifty are sweepingly cinematic. The ending over-the-top — as was my joy at realizing I’d finally put it to bed.

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Nonnegotiable Time

Neko Case, a the vocalist in cult band “The New Pornographers,” is one of one hundred artists, entrepreneurs and writers interviewed for “In the Company of Women,” a surprisingly unsappy coffee table book. 

Pictured above is what she had to say about time and making it to make art. I agree. 

Magical Thinking

For a few weeks this book has been on my mind. Didion, Didion, Didion. And her “Year of Magical Thinking,” written during the first year she mourned her husband’s sudden death. 

This for me has proven to be a year of magical thinking, a year of metamorphosing concrete barricades into trampolines via transformative thought. 

Magical thinking works. Didion said it first. I look forward to going through her words. 

Bon Voyage

I can think of few things I enjoy more than buying a new book at an airport. The thought of being trapped in the air inside a metal tube for hours with nothing to do but read or watch bad movies is thrilling. The more so with a brand new glossy book upon my lap. 

On my flight today I carry the story above. Garcia Marquez’s first formal forray into the novelesque: a literary rendition of a true-life shipwreck tale. The “actual” story took place here, in Colombia, where I often work and play. Marquez’s version was first published in installments in one of the main national newspapers. 

Which brings forth the question: why doesn’t installment writing happen anymore? Perhaps this blog will do something about that. 

But, for now, there is nothing but paper and plane. 

Break Point Break

British artist Fiona Banner turned the opening scenes of the cult classic Point Break into a huge canvas with red words. The point? Convey the break, the chiasm between what is experienced visually and mentally. Suspense is lost. Impact becomes flaccid. Scenes become silent. In the case of high-voltage action, Banner implies that sometimes the movie is better than the book. 

On view at the ever magnificent British Tate. 

Survival of the Horniest

During a recent blissful Sunday afternoon on a London rooftop a friend dutifully informs me that, from an evolutionary perspective, our happiness is problematic. He then plops open the book he is currently logging around town to the page above. 

Writer Yuval Noah Harari makes a good point: our evolution is not based on survival of the fittest but, rather, on survival of the hungriest, indeed, the horniest. 

Those of us who are most adept at wanting and finding instant gratification have a better chance of surviving and reproducing out in the wild. But, we are no longer out in the wild.  

Here, in an urban context, the constant need for instant gratification becomes a burden, one that hinders our ability to execute long-term plans, which are key to obtaining hapiness’ less attractive but more discerning older cousin: satisfaction. 

Our biological need to get fed and laid is the reason why Mick Jagger et al can’t get no satisfaction. Perhaps the results would vary if we gave vegan sober abstinence a try. And a try. And a try.