Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9

Vladimir Nabokov biographer Brian Boyd defends -- quite exhaustively -- the posthumous publication of the unfinished The Original of Laura:

Edward Hirsch offers a helpful appreciation of the Polish modernist poet Tadeusz Rozewicz at The Virginia Quarterly Review:

...he treats modern poetry as “a battle for breath” and writes with an anxious, prolific, offhanded urgency. He is wary and intense, a bemused seer of nothingness. I consider him the Samuel Beckett of modern Polish poetry.

Reaching across the centuries to another fine poet, Steve Donoghue is enraptured by the complete Penguin edition of the poems of Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542):

Karl Marlantes's long-gestating Vietnam epic, Matterhorn, is heralded by Sebastian Junger as "one of the most profound and devastating novels ever to come out of Vietnam — or any war. It’s not a book so much as a deployment, and you will not return unaltered."

The Second Pass considers the short historical novels of Janet Lewis, which are perennials in discussions of neglected books. Lewis, the wife of the notoriously cranky poet Yvor Winters, took her plots mainly from one source:

The subjects of The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Soren Qvist (1947), and The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), were all drawn from one slender law book published in 1873: Famous Cases of Circumstantial Evidence with an Introduction on the Theory of Presumptive Proof by Samuel M. Phillipps. Famous Cases is fascinating in its own right. The stories in the book all concern how we arrive at and know the truth, with a particular focus on circumstantial evidence. Lewis once said, “I have this affinity for the circumstantial case. I like to get at the intimate obliquely.”

The archive of the great fantasy novelist and artist Mervyn Peake, who illustrated his own books, is going to the British Library:

Another illustrator whose style is somewhat akin to Peake's is the Russian Alexandra Grinevsky (1899-1976), one-time wife of Alexandre Alexeieff:

The American painter Alice Neel (1900-1984) was a near-exact contemporary of Grinevsky, although it is unlikely that their paths ever crossed. Neel married the Cuban painter Carolos Enriquez, and spent a good deal of time in Havana until he later abandoned her; around the same time across the ocean in Paris, Grinevsky tolerated a menage a trois between her, Alexeieff, and American artist Claire Parker, but Alexeieff eventually divorced her anyway and married Parker. Never trust those male artists! Neel achieved her greatest fame as a portraitist; here is her portrait of Enriquez.

Atom Egoyan's new film Chloe has drawn generally less-than-favorable reviews, and The Rumpus's is no exception; but they do add an interview with Egoyan that I enjoyed reading, especially the parts about his warm admiration of Pasolini's Teorema.

A Blog Supreme, another jazz blog I've added to my reading, features a fun post about the great Eric Dolphy's special status at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York:

Dolphy Day [is] an annual event at Le Moyne College. As the story goes, one day in 1971, jazz aficionados on campus decided to forego their academic responsibilities to listen to Eric Dolphy's music outside. They were in part inspired by the facts that Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention had recently recorded "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue," and that the mascot of the College is the Green Dolphin. (Dolphy, Dolphin ...) That, and it was a nice spring day.

 Forty years later, Dolphy Day was celebrated in style. According to the Le Moyne Web site, festivities included:
--Unveiling of a life-size Eric Dolphy sculpture in the Dablon quad where this tradition was first held and is still celebrated;
--Announcement of the Eric Dolphy Music Scholarship, which will be given to an outstanding performing arts student at Le Moyne;
--A lecture by legendary music icon Gunther Schuller, who wrote jazz pieces for and conducted several Eric Dolphy performances in the 1950s and early 1960s;
--A performance of "Out to Lunch," Dolphy's most famous album, by the Russ Johnson Quintet.

There is some great footage of Dolphy (1928-1964) to be found on YouTube, including this performance of "Take the A Train" with the Charles Mingus Sextet. Dolphy is on bass clarinet and has an amazing solo.

Among notables born on this date are engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, photographer Eadweard Muybridge, poet Charles Baudelaire, novelist Johannes Bobrowski, children's writer Joseph Krumgold, architect Jorn Utzon, conductors Antal Dorati and Armin Jordan, satirist Tom Lehrer, sportswriter Peter Gammons, golfer Seve Ballesteros, painter Victor Vasarely, film director David Gordon Green, singer/songwriter Carl Perkins, zoologist Jim Fowler, and actors Michel Simon, Paul Robeson, Ward Bond, Michael Learned, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Dennis Quaid, and Cynthia Nixon. Because Tanner on Tanner, Robert Altman's brilliant 2004 follow-up to Tanner '88, has been seen by so few, not too many have gotten to enjoy Cynthia Nixon's reprise of her role as Jack Tanner's daughter Alex, a college student in 1988, a documentary film-maker 16 years later. But I think the grown-up Alex is among Nixon's best performances, superb dramatically as well as comedically. I would love to see her doing more challenging film roles than Sex and the City sequels. It must be disappointing for her not to be able to play the lead in the upcoming John Cameron Mitchell film adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire's play Rabbit Hole, since she won a Tony for Best Actress playing the part on Broadway; Nicole Kidman, who bought the rights, stars instead. (More on this subject in the Comments.)


Anonymous said...

Nicole Kidman is playing the role of Becca in Rabbit Hole because she BOUGHT the rights to the play and developed it HERSELF. She INVITED John Cameron Mitchell to direct and the author of the play to write the script.

If Nixon wanted the film role, she should have bought the rights. The fact that she won a Tony does not mean it is her play especially a play that has been performed on many stages since its debut. The play was not written for Nixon, she was simply cast in it unlike the movie Rabbit Hole written FOR Nicole Kidman.

Patrick Murtha said...

Fair enough. That is obviously extremely pertinent information, and I thank you for posting it. And don't get me wrong, I love Nicole Kidman. I just imagine (without any particular proof) that Nixon would have liked to play a role on screen for which she won a Tony on stage. But the realities are, first, that notwithstanding what she has accomplished, she's not a star name like Kidman, and second, she's not as wealthy as KIdman, which is important if we're talking about buying rights.