My books of the week #2: Albert Camus and Sam Tallent

As part of my obsessive explorations in the arts, I try to read an average of two books a week. Here are the two books I read last week.

Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942)

As an exploration of morality, it falls somewhere between Kafka and Dostoevsky. As a portrayal of existentialist disenchantment, it is almost nonpareil.

Sam Tallent, Running the Light (2020)

This novel reeks of booze, cigarettes, piss and vomit. It ain’t pretty, yet it’s fascinating. The lead character of this novel may be a stand-up comedian but if you’re looking for a joke book, you’ll be disappointed. This is something else and whatever it is, will suck you into its world, exploring the depths of human nature, masculinity and the dark side of the self-employed hustle.

10 great quotes from “Running the Light” by Sam Tallent (2020)

I recently read Sam Tallent’s novel, Running the Light, originally published earlier this year, in 2020. Here are ten quotes from the book that particularly stood out to me. BUY IT HERE.

“Things had never been his thing. He spent his money on more immediate gratifications.”

“In cities, no matter the night of the week, the party never had to end, but out in the Rest of It, in the remote blank nowheres, the night had a way of dying just when he was feeling the most alive.”

“Disgust boiled in Billy Ray’s chest like a second heartbeat: of all the things a man can be, a coward is the worst.”

“​The girl’s eyes were racooned by dark circles. She looked defeated. She was too tired to be so young.”

“Youth doesn’t perish, it mutes.”

“With stand-up, Billy Ray was only happy on stage. He lived for the hour; the rest of his life was just filler. Abeyance.”

“Do you remember before we forgot how to love each other? When you were my everything? Do you remember me when I was me? Because I remember you and you were beautiful. We were beautiful.”

“​More was the name of the game. More liquor. More blow. More more. His yearning was frantic. It howled like wind through the holes in his brain. He longed to penetrate and excrete, to fuck and be fucked, to violate, to be ruined.”

“He didn’t have much at this time but he owned the present and later tonight he would attest for his past and improve his future.”

“Billy Ray knew scary men and they didn’t wear visors. This man had never been in a fight in his life. Billy Ray could feel it, it was like a smell: the bravery of ignorance. This man had never been dominated by another. He’d never known the crude intimacy of violence, never felt the fear of laying on his back wondering if the boot would come to his temple or his throat. He was weak, of a generation of false vipers.”

10 Great Quotes from “The Stranger” by Albert Camus (1942)

I recently read Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger, originally published in 1942. Here are ten quotes from this novel that particularly stood out to me.

It occurred to me that somehow I’d go through another Sunday, that Mother now was buried, and tomorrow I’d be going back to work as usual. Really, nothing in my life had changed.

And, after another silence, she murmured something about my being “a queer fellow.” “And I daresay that’s why I love you,” she added. “But maybe that’s why one day I’ll come to hate you.”

The trigger gave, and the smooth underbelly of the butt jogged my palm. And so, with that crisp, whipcrack sound, it all began. I shook off my sweat and the clinging veil of light. I knew I’d shattered the balance of the day, the spacious calm of this beach on which I had been happy.

All normal people, I added as an afterthought, had more or less desired the death of those they loved, at some time or another.

And so I learned that familiar paths traced in the dusk of summer evenings may lead as well to prisons as to innocent, untroubled sleep.

Often and often I blame myself for not having given more attention to accounts of public executions. One should always take an interest in such matters.

Another thing I did to deflect the course of my thoughts was to listen to my heart. I couldn’t imagine that this faint throbbing which had been with me for so long would ever cease.

[…] there’s no idea to which one doesn’t get acclimatized in time.

It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.

For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.

My Books of the Week #1: Jerome K. Jerome and Francesco Guccini

As part of my obsessive explorations in the arts, I try to read two books a week. Here are the two books I read last week.

Nuovo Dizionario delle Cose Perdute (“New Dictionary of Things Lost,” Francesco Guccini, 2014)

Penned by one of Italy’s most acclaimed singer/songwriters and a sequel to a previous book listing things that used to be popular but no longer are – from habits to objects and beyond. It’s a bit of a witty boomer-fest but also a bit charming.

Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K. Jerome, 1889)

An amusing take on the travelogue and a witty satire on masculine rituals with scattered moments of poetry. At times appears to anticipate the spirit of early slapstick comedies, which it predates by some decades, particularly those of Laurel & Hardy.

10 Great Quotes from Jerome K. Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat” (1889)

I recently read Jerome K. Jerome’s novel, Three Men in a Boat, originally published in 1889. Here are ten quotes from this novel that particularly stood out to me.

“Throw the lumber over, man! Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need—a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”

“I don’t understand German myself. I learned it at school, but forgot every word of it two years after I had left, and have felt much better ever since.”

“Heavenly melody, in our then state of mind, would only have still further harrowed us. A soul-moving harmony, correctly performed, we should have taken as a spirit-warning, and have given up all hope. But about the strains of “He’s got ’em on,” jerked spasmodically, and with involuntary variations, out of a wheezy accordion, there was something singularly human and reassuring.”

“We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach. Reach not after morality and righteousness, my friends; watch vigilantly your stomach, and diet it with care and judgment. Then virtue and contentment will come and reign within your heart, unsought by any effort of your own; and you will be a good citizen, a loving husband, and a tender father, a noble, pious man.”

“Fox-terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are, and it will take years and years of patient effort on the part of us Christians to bring about any appreciable reformation in the rowdiness of the fox-terrier nature.”

“I resolved, when I began to write this book, that I would be strictly truthful in all things; and so, I will be, even if I have to employ hackneyed phrases for the purpose.”

“It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

“There was a time, long ago, when I used to clamour for the hard work: now I like to give the youngsters a chance.”

“The pool under Sandford lasher, just behind the lock, is a very good place to drown yourself in.”

“We said we could not expect to have it all sunshine, nor should we wish it. We told each other that Nature was beautiful, even in her tears.”

Why I decided to self-publish my book

A partial transcript from Episode 23 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full radio show.

Earlier, I announced that I will be releasing my book, Eye of the Beholder, on the 1st of September. And I should say, as if there was any need to, that it is a self-published book. I just don’t have the time to send out manuscripts left and right, do email back and forths and just go through all that bullshit process. I also don’t need that type of validation.

So, part of my drive to self-publish this particular book was that I wanted to teach myself all the parts that are involved in self-publishing, from designing a book and cover to actually using the software to transform manuscripts into an ebook and so on.

It is hard to figure it all out and I’m still learning. I mean, I have had to obviously do it in my free time, so I haven’t been sleeping much.

In any case, I realize that sometimes, when you have an idea and it’s a creative idea that you know will take a long time to put together but you want to do for as long as you have the drive to do it, getting other people involved will just slow you down.

The Beat Writers of the ’60s used to live by the concept of “first thought, best thought” and I think there’s something to that. I really do.

Download the full radio show HERE.

Announcing my book “Eye of the Beholder,” out Sept. 1

A partial transcript from Episode 23 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full radio show.

The Venice International Film Festival is scheduled to take place from the 2nd to the 12th of September and on the eve of its opening night, in other words, on the 1st of September, I will be releasing my first book.

It’s a collection of my film writings on film from the final two years of my CineCola website that focused on cinema, so, from 2017 and 2018.

The book is titled Eye of the Beholder, after my fundamental stance on film and art criticism, which is my believe that the cinematic truth lies in the eye of the beholder and that any work of art has the potential to help us understand ourselves and the world around us based more on a personal connection that we share with the artwork itself rather than any academic stances.

The pieces collected in the book are quite varied in both form and content. We go from a rather traditionalist piece on the history of the making of Milos Forman’s The Firemen’s Ball, one of the masterpieces of the Czechoslovak New Wave, to a lengthy account of what I hope the cinema venue of the future will look like, to a stream-of-consciousness piece written in response to the death of Bernardo Bertolucci.

In fact, in putting Eye of the Beholder together, I did favour eclecticism over cohesiveness and grand statements. But in any case, I will be releasing that on the day before the beginning of the Venice International Film Festival in eBook form and you can also order a paperback copy if you’re that way inclined. Which I understand because I, myself, am a paperback kind of guy. I may also release it in audio-book form.

Download the full show HERE.

THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 23 (RADIO SHOW)

Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted and produced by globe-trotting arts presenter Matt Micucci, and features plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.

Listen to Episode 23 via one of the players below.

Download the full show here.

In this episode:

  • The 1911 theft of the Mona Lisa;
  • Marcel Duchamp and the beginning of post-modernism;
  • What drives Henry Rollins;
  • Find your mentors in artworks;

and more, plus lots of music.

5 clips from THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 21 (RADIO SHOW)

Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.

(To listen to/download the full radio show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Trans-genderism in Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando.

The problem with major bookstore chains like WHSmith.

The music of planets.

What Pablo Picasso told the Nazi secret police force about Guernica.

A tourist damaged a 19th-century Antonio Canova artwork while taking a selfie.

Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.

Download the full radio show here.

Trans-genderism and Virginia Woolf

A partial transcript from Episode 21 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Scroll down to listen to the full radio show.

Regarding the #IStandWithJKRowiling, I should say I’m not a fan of her books. That’s just personal taste, I realize that Harry Potter means a lot to a lot of people.

But in terms of trans-genderism, may I suggest Virginia Woolf instead? Not only was she revolutionary in experimentation with form and content, going against the norm of the novel during the Victorian Era and pioneering the stream of consciousness style of writing. But she was also modern-minded in her exploration of such themes as gender and sexuality in her books.

Actually, Woolf was a lesbian I believe. I’m not entirely sure whether she identified herself as such outright but she reportedly had affairs with women, especially with Vita Sackville West, who was an author herself, a prolific diarist and a garden designer. She also inspired one of Woolf’s most celebrated and modern-minded novels known — Orlando.

If you haven’t read it, it’s difficult to kind of do its narrative justice both in terms of content and form in just a few words. Essentially, it’s the story of Orlando, and it’s a fictional historical biography that spans almost 400 years in the lifetime of the title protagonist. And all throughout the book’s length, the protagonist constantly changes sex.

So, I suppose the novel explores such things as how gender roles are defined within society, confusion about gender and sexuality and all such things. There are a couple of lines that illustrate that, including the opening lines: “He–for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it–was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.”

In another part, Woolf wants us to understand the force of gender roles in her own world and writes: “When the boy, for alas, a boy it must be – no woman could skate with such speed and vigour – swept almost on tiptoe past him, Orlando was ready to tear his hair with vexation that the person was of his own sex, and thus all embraces were out of the question.”

But it’s a wonderful book and I would recommend it, particularly for anyone who is looking for some type of representation or comfort about their own sexuality and gender in classic literature. Sally Potter directed an awesome version of the book in 1992, starring Tilda Swinton, that you can check out in case reading is not your thing.

But as far as I’m concerned, and in terms of how I feel about this whole thing, if you do stand with J.K. Rowling, that’s cool. But I, on the other hand, stand with Virginia Woolf.