Thursday, 31 August 2017

"Moon Palace" by Paul Auster

Year of Publication:  1989
Number of Pages:  298
Genre:  Literary fiction

This novel by American novelist Paul Auster opens in 1969 and follows recent graduate Marco Stanley Fogg in a quest for family and identity which takes him from New York City to the desolate beauty of American West.  Along the way he encounters various characters who all have their stories to tell.

The book deals with familiar Paul Auster themes such as the relationship between life and art, the role that chance plays in life and unreliable narrators.  It's a novel about exploration in both the literal, external sense of going out into the world, but also in the internal, spiritual sense.  It's a coming of age story spanning three generations, and ultimately it's a story of America itself.  It is beautifully written and full of memorable characters.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

"Oracle Night" by Paul Auster

Year of Publication:  2004
Number of Pages:  207
Genre:  Literary fiction

This novel is set over nine days in 1982.  New York author Sidney Orr is recovering from a serious illness, and has not written anything new in a long time.  Passing by a stationery shop, Orr stops and buys a blue notebook.  The notebook seems to unlock something inside Orr and he begins writing again.  However, while he is once more exploring his creativity, Orr's world is rocked by a string of life-changing events, some of which seem to be connected to the stories he is working on.

This short novel is beautifully written, moving between Orr's work and his "real" life.  It explores the links between life and art and how art and creativity can impact on the real world.  Orr is an interesting, if often unlikeable main character, and is surrounded by several other memorable characters.  It's definitely recommended, particularly to writers.    

Show Pieces

Year of Release:  2014
Director:  Mitch Jenkins
Screenplay:  Alan Moore
Starring:  Darrell D'Silva, Siobhan Hewlett, Khandie Khisses, Boykitten, Alan Moore
Running Time:  77 minutes
Genre:  Horror 

Alan Moore is possibly one of the most important and influential figures in the entire history of comics, the creator/writer of Watchmen (1986), V for Vendetta (1988-89), From Hell (1989-1996) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen  (1999 - current) and the writer of one of the most influential and controversial Batman stories of all time, "The Killing Joke" (1988) among many others.  A lot of his work has been adapted to film, with varying degrees of success.  However Moore himself has been famously against any of the film adaptations, to the extent of refusing payment and taking his name off the credits.  However here is something that he has written specifically for the screen.  Show Pieces is actually five short films, three of which have been collected into a linked anthology.

In "Act of Faith", a young newspaper journalist (Hewlett) makes a rash decision with deadly consequences, in "Jimmy's End" a heavy drinking womaniser (D'Silva) enters a bizarre and sinister working men's club, and in "His Heavy Heart" a man is forced into a nightmarish version of Ancient Egyptian funerary rites.

Directed by Mitch Jenkins, the film is visually very striking, with a powerfully oppressive, bleak atmosphere, and a minimum of graphic gore.  More atmospheric and disturbing than actively scary, it has a strong thread of dark humour.