Thursday, January 02, 2014
Recent reading:

Donna Tartt, The Secret History

Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locust

Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, & What You Can Do to Get More of It

I've been hearing about Tartt's book for years, which is as good as everyone says it is.  Natural comparisons to Twin Peaks, M. John Harrison's Course of the Heart, and Highsmith's Ripley books abound.

I very rarely read a book and think, "Wow! This would make a great movie!"  But I'd happily pay to see a film version of The Secret History directed by Wes Anderson, though most of the Anderson principals are probably now too old to convincingly pass as early 90s liberal-arts undergraduates.  Owen Wilson as poor dead Bunny, young Jason Schwartzman as Henry, Tenenbaums-era Paltrow as Camilla, Bill Murray as the officious Dean of Students relaying the news that the Classics Program is no more following Julian's turn-on-a-dime disappearance.... As Gob Bluth says, "C'mon!"

(All dreamworld casting aside, Anderson's films are the best parallel for Tartt's amazing novel I can think of, with their idiosyncratic entitled sense-of-self protagonists (who, like Tartt's characters, are not nearly as bright as they imagine themselves to be), quick shifts of dramatic tone, and general air of staginess, by which I mean both that the works incorporate aspects of theatricality into non-theatrical forms (awareness of audience; third wall disruption) and actually contain scenes staged in enclosed spaces as tiny plays (Moonrise Kingdom's house & the Britten pageant-within-the-movie; Steve Zissou's submarine; Max Fischer's various productions; most of Tartt's scenes set in Julian's attic classroom, plus assorted dorm rooms, living rooms, diners, & basements).

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