5 items from 2013
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw (Fourth Estate) is a brilliant, sprawling, layered and unsentimental portrayal of contemporary China. It made me think and laugh. I also love Dave Eggers' The Circle (Hamish Hamilton), which is a sharp-eyed and funny satire about the obsession with "sharing" our lives through technology. It's convincing and a little creepy.
By strange coincidence two of the most intriguing art books I read this year had the word "Breakfast" in their titles. They were Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig (Jonathan Cape) and Breakfast at Sotheby's by Philip Hook (Particular). Greig's fascinating, intimate biography of Lucian Freud was a revelation. Every question I had about Freud – from the aesthetic to the intrusively gossipy – was »
- Hilary Mantel, Jonathan Franzen, Mohsin Hamid, Tom Stoppard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, William Boyd, Bill Bryson, Shami Chakrabarti, Sarah Churchwell, Antonia Fraser, Mark Haddon, Robert Harris, Max Hastings, Philip Hensher, Simon Hoggart, AM Homes, John Lanchester, Mark Lawson, Robert Macfarlane, Andrew Motion, Ian Rankin, Lionel Shriver, Helen Simpson, Colm Tóibín, Richard Ford, John Gray, David Kynaston, Penelope Lively, Pankaj Mishra, Blake Morrison, Susie Orbach
Lord Grantham's birthday party goes off without a hitch -- well, almost, on the latest episode of "Downton Abbey." Don't keep reading if you don't want to be spoiled.
Evelyn Napier and Charles Blake arrive. They're studying landed estates and whether or not they can continue in the current climate. Blake is of the opinion that they have no place anymore and Lady Mary bristles at his attitude, being delightfully sharp with him.
This is a romance we can perhaps get behind, as long as they don't rush it. Lady Mary is always at her best when she's being smart and biting (she's much like Granny Violet that way), so their tension is fun. It's reminiscent of her and Matthew, without being a retread of that plot.
Meanwhile, Cousin Isobel is running around like a combination of Sarah Bernhardt and Miss Marple, solving the case of the missing letter opener for Lady Violet. »
‘Hollywood Hero’ John Dewar remembered (photo: Anthony Slide wearing Tom Mix’s hat in 1976) Perhaps I have been around too long, but as I grow older I grow despondent that those who contributed so much to film history in the past are forgotten, with others often coming along and taking claim for their achievements. One such Hollywood hero is John Dewar, whom I met when I first came to Los Angeles in 1971. He was a curator in the history department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and introduced me to the museum’s treasures relating to film history, acquired before the creation of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — at a time when both institutions were housed together simply as the Los Angeles County Museum. Back in the mid-1930s, it was Ransom Matthews, head of industrial technology at the Museum, who had started collecting such materials. »
- Anthony Slide
The Backlot has an interesting thing to say about Marilyn Monroe. Interesting Monroe thoughts are rare!
Pajiba writes an open letter to Showtime since they're still airing Dexter. (I'm So glad I quit that show. I only wish I had quit it a couple of seasons before I did.
The Advocate terrific op-ed about waning enthusiasm for Lady Gaga and gay man + diva love affairs
- NATHANIEL R
Augustine (Soko) is working as a kitchen servant when she has a convulsive fit that sends her to Paris’ Salpêtrière psychiatric hospital with one eye stuck shut and half of her body paralyzed. Determined to get out of the hospital as soon as possible, Augustine attracts the attention of the chief neurologist -- Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon) -- when she has her next seizure. Charcot almost immediately identifies Augustine as his best chance to convince the Academy to provide him with more funding for Salpêtrière. After diagnosing Augustine with ovarian hysteria -- a catch-all diagnosis in 19th century France for women -- Charcot's best guess is that Augustine's hysteria is rooted in her brain. Augustine quickly becomes Charcot's pet patient because of her susceptibility to hypnotism. While hypnotized, Augustine's seizures can easily be triggered by Charcot...almost too easily. The theatricality of Charcot's presentations draws comparisons to »
- Don Simpson
5 items from 2013
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