The end of April finally (finally!) means the beginning of spring, and we have lots of love for lots of things.
♥ Unbecoming: A Novel by Rebecca Scherm is a novel about identity with the trappings of a heist thriller. We meet the protagonist, Grace, living in Paris and restoring antiques several years after a robbery gone wrong. Grace is unreliable and elusive and part of the pleasure of the book comes in part from teasing out her authentic self from the various roles she fills in the lives of the men around her. Some of the other great joys in reading Unbecoming are the descriptions of the restoration process. Reading about Grace painstaking cutting bite marks into tiny wax peaches is the closest I’ll ever get to an ASMR experience.
♥ Espiral Vinho Verde is slightly effervescent “medium dry” wine from Portugal that is so unbelievably refreshing that I swear it’s like drinking sparkling water. This particular bottle is $5 at Trader Joe’s and I think it’s exclusive to that grocery chain. Despite living smack in the middle of an American Wine Destination we’ve stocked up on 4 or 5 bottles of this cheap and delicious wine every time we’ve made it out to Seattle in the past couple months. I have yet to try making a mimosa with the Vinho Verde but I suspect it would be perfect!
♥ Sunsets are kind of a boring example of nature’s majesty, which is probably why I was totally indifferent to them until I moved west. I don’t know that sunsets are somehow more beautiful in WA than in OH, but my view is less impeded by buildings and I find myself checking out the back window every evening to see if there is a radiant explosion in the sky bathing the yard in golden light. My favorite is a sunset on a slightly rainy day; the clouds filter the light into these eerie rosy dapples up and down my street.
Unreal sunset in late September
I read this book in one sitting (which is easy to do with an 80 page book) but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Lefebvre crafts an incomplete list of missing works, diaries, paintings, letters, ropes to hang oneself, by various artists. Decidedly white, male and Euro-centric (with some painful exclusions) it’s still a marvel. Did you know we have no idea what the Marquis de Sade looks like, since all his portraits were destroyed or lost? That Decartes wrote a book about his dreams, called Olympica? I am constantly interested in the smaller personal items of famous people, and have the utmost respect for every act of destruction one takes towards their work. To have a grouping of them creates a space of impossible dreams and works that get the mind reeling.
♥ Susan Sontag – Reborn: Journals & Notebooks 1947-1963, edited by David Rieff I first came across this book in photograph form. I first came across a quote, or a photograph of a page, via Durga Chew-Bose (who you should be following on Twitter and Tumblr if that is not already the case). Here it is, I’ve found it. The photographed page, underlined by/picture with the manicured hand that held the pen and turned the page. Now, that photograph of a page of a diary written in the fall of 1957 has been reblogged or liked by 948 people in the winter of 2015. (Am I still writing about the book?) I’m not underlining pages in my copy because it is from the library and also because it is hard to underline things in books when you read them in bathtubs. Her words burn hot on my skin and it feels perfect to be in a steaming bath while reading them. I read excerpts out loud, the echo in my tiny white-tiled bathroom heard only by my black cat. I’m not done yet. It is one of those books you want to savour, namely because you know it has to end at some point. I haven’t been using a bookmark, and have re-read passages purely for the pleasure of it all. I debated sharing a favourite part but there are too many.
♥ Sauna by Mount Eerie This record! It feels like a record that has always been in my collection, that I know off by heart without knowing the track titles already. It comes in waves, waves of beauty and terror. Take the 13-minute track Spring, for example. It begins with peels of bells, dramatic dongs, then centers itself with falsetto choirs of disembodied angels… all while singing you existential words about how nothing is impermeable or real. It is just BEYOND. To top things off, the record as an object itself is fucking gorgeous. You should buy it. (Par rapport a rien, it’s also the 2nd album I’ve listening to in the last month that mention the tides when the album was recorded? What’s up dudes?)
♥ The Real Image by Esmé Weijun Wang in the New Inquiry This was written back in February but I only got around to it now! Worth the wait. I first crossed online paths with Esmé six or seven years ago, when we both faithfully documented our wardrobes and shared them online. She co-ran Fashion for Writers with Jenny Zhang, and I am so fucking glad she is still sharing her photographs, thoughts, and wisdom online. This piece explores madness and myth making and the cinema. Cinema as an experience, not necessarily simply as images on a screen, if you get my drift. For us who love film and thinking about what film does/can do, it is fascinating. For anyone who has dealt with mental health issues, it is extra insightful and eye-opening. So you should read it.
♥ I’ve been in sort of a reading slump lately – in 2014, I did a reading only women authors project, which gave the year a structure that I don’t have this year (although I am still only reading female authors!) – but I recently read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, which has me excited about books again. A pre-, during-, and post-apocalyptic novel all at once, Station Eleven weaves together the stories of several Canadians at the end of the world. Arthur Leander, world-famous actor (I was thinking of him as a Michael Caine-type), dies onstage during King Lear; Jeevan, a paparazzo-turned-EMT with a history with Arthur tries to save him; while Kirsten, a child actor in the pay and friend of Arthur’s, watched in horror. This is the last day before the world ends – literally, for Arthur, and both literally and figuratively for Jeevan and Kirsten, who both finds ways to survive in a new world. It’s refreshingly non-depressing for a novel about the apocalypse – of course, there are momets of deep tragedy, but there is also a lot of beauty to still be found in the world, and each other. My favorite part of the book is Miranda’s illustrations of her graphic novel (within the novel) Station Eleven – I would love to see a printed version of the comic!!
♥ This is probably more of a shameless self-promotion than anything else, but for the past six months I’ve been contributing to Screen Slate, a daily, absolutely invaluable resource of all repertory/gallery/special event screenings in NYC. It’s given me the opportunity to write about, and, more importantly, point interested viewers’ eyes towards, films I think are important, particularly within the male-dominated NYC film scene: The Last Mistress, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, and Immoral Tales, to name a few. Now, in order to make the site even better (the things the team is imagining are amazing, to say the least), Screen Slate has started a Kickstarter. I know there are tons (and tons) of crowdsourcing campaigns you can (and should!) contribute to, but Screen Slate has been a lifesaver for me, even before becoming a contributor – the site makes it so easy to find screenings you otherwise might never have known. Those kinds of things are my favorite part of living in New York.
♥ Lately, Kim Kardashian’s fashion game has been even more on-point than usual: she’s really embracing her gothic witch side. Her dress to the Time 100 gala is really off the charts – all sheer and dark and sleek and voluminous. Even better is the outfit at right, which she wore to a casual night out, apparently. When I saw this picture, I couldn’t not imaging Kim as the lead witchy-vampire queen in a nouveau Jean Rollin film. Can someone please make this dream a reality!