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Cover Image of Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa (CBC Massey Lecture) by Stephen Lewis published by House of Anansi Press
Cover Image of The Red and the Black by Burton Raffel, Diane Johnson, Stendhal published by Modern Library
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California Literary Review: Irreverent, Insightful Reviews & Interviews

abstract:Check-out the latest addition to BookBuffet's LINKS & RESOURCES. We have just added The California Literary Review to the list of Book Review resources. The CLR was founded just one year ago by Paul Comstock, and already its collection of reviews, interviews, and essays offer great reading and book suggestions for book groups. Two essays attracted me...


January 14, 2005
— Having been a Stanley Kubrick fan for years, (Dr. Strangelove is revisited frequently) I read with great interest the essay, Stanley Kubrick: The Legacy of a Cinematic Legend by Garan Holcombe.

Kubrick was not concerned with trite parades of easy sentimentality but rather with the holding up of a mirror to the realities of the human experience: our brutal, violent tendencies, our unexpressed or repressed desires, our lusts, rages and multiple vanities...

There is a very strong case to be made for Kubrick as the most vital of all twentieth century filmmakers. As an image-maker he has no rival. There is his astonishing ability to produce such different films in a wide range of genres; his minute attention to detail; his ability to get inspirational once in a lifetime performances from his actors. Although the apprehension of art and the appreciation of it are, in any final analysis, matters of personal taste, one is tempted to respond to those who consider Kubrick as an overrated director by quoting that great eighteenth-century Irish satirist Jonathon Swift, “when a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

The essay continues with biographical information and references to each of his films: The Shining, Dr. Strangelove: or How I learned to Love the Bomb, Lolita, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut.

(Did you know that Eyes Wide Shut was adapted from an Viennese author, Arthur Schnitzler, titled Dream Story which we discussed in our feature article, Book Browsing Vienna & Budapest.)

The second essay was On Reflections of Paul Auster, also by Garan Homcombe, who writes brilliantly on the author's use of "post modern game playing and the juxtaposition of the supposedly real with the imaginary." My book group enjoyed Auster's The Book of Illusions, but I must admit we struggled with a decent analysis. Here is a tidbit from that article as well.

Paul Auster is a writer, who like Beckett is obsessed with identity and the way it is constructed out of and through the medium of stories, words, or even the thinnest of airs. He places great emphasis on the need for storytelling. His characters are restless inquisitors, asking endless questions of life, undertaking journeys across the vastness of America, often in solitude, in pursuit of ends which even they themselves are unaware; and if these characters are not travelling outwards, then there is always the journey within. Indeed the odyssey, of one kind or another, be it on a large or a small scale, exterior or interior, is central to almost all his work. Auster’s meandering creations seek the means by which they can live: by which they can be alive in the fullest sense. They are characters in search of an independent existence. Auster, like Ballard, is an author who subscribes to the belief that it is only through the construction of reality that we are truly able to perceive, rationalise and comprehend the one within which we are forced to spend our lives; he is fascinated by the breaking down of the boundaries between what is lived and what is read; and the blurring of the distinction between what is experienced and what is written.

Paul Auster, now in his late fifties, first gained international renown with three stories published collectively as The New York Trilogy (1987). An inspired subversion of the conventions of the detective genre, each of the novellas take the reader on surreal, elliptical, smoke and mirrors journeys, in which ends are not only left untied but fraying at the edges. We are in a world of mazes and parallels. The stories deal with the search for personal meaning, and the metaphysical crisis that ensues if one accepts that the self is fractured and divided, rather than fixed and immutable. City of Glass (1985) is the story of a crime novelist who becomes enmeshed in a mysterious series of events, which means he has to assume a variety of identities, masks and disguises. Ghosts (1986) concerns a private detective called Blue who is investigating a man named Black for a client named White. Who is watching whom? The Locked Room (1986), perhaps the most powerful of the three, is the tale of an author who, while researching the life of a missing writer for a biography, gradually begins to assume his identity. The stories examine solitude and obsession, of how one informs the other, and underlying all three is an atmosphere of disenchantment and dislocation, the absurdity of searching for something nameless, something beyond reach, something which is, by definition, unknowable.

                                              Articles excerpted from CLR

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