I didn’t do all that much non-required reading this semester, probably because I wasted a lot of time on the internet, but here are some of the books I managed to finish.
Michel Houellebecq, Submission
Houellebecq’s notoriety is really a function of the contempt he feels for complacency. His speculative fiction The Possibility of an Island is far more devastating and ambitious than this novel, but the latter succeeds on its own terms. Submission tells the story of a near-future France which has democratically chosen sharia over laïcité. Totally worth it.
Stefan Kiesbye, Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone
And weird and tender novel with moments of fairy tale violence.
Colin Wilson, The Space Vampires
The basis of Lifeforce, an adaptation that Wilson is said to have despised. This novella is loaded with ideas, which is unsurprising from the author of the groundbreaking sociological study The Outsiders.
Valérie K. Orlando, New African Cinema
A succinct and very useful guide.
Denis Judd, The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj
A comprehensive introduction full of interesting detail.
The Vampire’s Ghost (1945)
The vampires of this colony in Africa are all European, which is totally appropriate. Written by Leigh Brackett, with famed beauty Adele Mara.
The Old Dark House (1932)
Boris Karloff plays a tormented and deformed butler who goes off his head when he gets into the liquor in this dark yet often funny film directed by James Whale.
Los Inocentes (2015)
Very gothic, a mode well-suited to the brutalities and lingering ghosts of slavery in 19th century Argentina.
I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
In this biographical film Susan Hayward plays Lillian Roth, a talented performer whose life spins out of control.
There’s a boozy, modish, early 60s charisma to Wong Kar Wai’s story of sexual promiscuity and unrequited love. Beautiful mise-en-scène as always.
Death and the Compass (1996)
Based on a Borges short story, directed by Alex Cox. Bizarre and highly stylized.
Andrei Rublev (1966)
This Soviet film about a medieval Russian cleric is one of the great art texts of the 20th century.
Pootie Tang (2001)
Not everything that I wanted it to be but littered with absurd and hilarious moments.