Sunday, September 20, 2009

Because-they're-all-I-have-time-for links

Upon his release from the Iraqi prison where he was tortured, Mutadhar al-Zaidi tells "The Story of My Shoe."

Ellen Meeropol mulls the challenge of political fiction,
the mulling occasioned by Barbara Kingsolver's new novel The Lacuna, which I've added to my to-read list.

Another play
I'd like to see and probably won't: Aftermath.

Last Sunday's New York Times Book Review
included a reactionary spew against a Korean novelist for what sounded like a pretty damned good book. Now Hwang Sok-yong's U.S. publisher, Seven Stories Press, is offering up the first 62 chapters of The Old Garden in its newly published English translation online. This is a generous and welcome move.

Motes Books has published We All Live Downstream, an anthology of writing about the coal industry's putrescent program of mountaintop removal.

Washington Post reporter David Finkel's book The Good Soldiers details how U.S. troops killed two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007 and how the Pentagon has been covering up the crime ever since.

Teresa and I watched Lifetime TV's much-anticipated (in our household) movie Georgia O'Keeffe last night. And oy gevalt: it was breathtakingly bad! We were sputtering with outrage throughout. The usually fine actors in the two lead roles--Jeremy Irons as Alfred Stieglitz and Joan Allen as O'Keeffe--were, um, awful, Irons especially. Due at least in part to the dreadful writing and directing. The whole thing was so ill-conceived and insulting, though why we expected anything better from Lifetime I do not know. It was not a movie about the great artist Georgia O'Keeffe. It was a movie about some pitiful woman's fucked-up relationship with some giant dickhead of a man. The sexism is staggering: the film is all and only about O'Keeffe in relation to Stieglitz. What few, fleeting minutes are given over to O'Keeffe's art, fewer and even more fleeting to her creative process, are hackneyed and shallow. There's lots else wrong with it, including the occasional passing into the frame of an actor playing the great author and leading light of the Harlem Renaissance Jean Toomer with nary a line, just there for window dressing apparently. Overall, this movie is one hot mess, and watching it was a waste of two hours we'll never get back.

Speaking of movies, I'm sure I'll see it, either at the theater or on DVD, but I don't have especially high hopes for Michael Moore's upcoming Capitalism: A Love Story. I'll enjoy some of it. Some of it will annoy me. The title, of course, is coy. Moore is not anti-capitalist. He's of the please-let's-return-to-a-kinder-gentler-capitalism ilk. Aside from the fact that there never was a kinder gentler era, this never-ending effort to accommodate to a system whose essence is exploitation actually holds back the struggle in many ways. And by the way, what was Michael Moore doing showing his film at the Toronto Film Festival? Why didn't he boycott the gathering for its promotion of Tel Aviv along with truly progressive filmmakers like Ken Loach?

Oliver Stone's new film South of the Border, on the other hand, looks pretty good.