Here are some of the books I read and films I watched in Fall when I probably should have been doing other things:
Theodore Dreiser, The Titan
The second volume of Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire. Frank Cowperwood, fresh from the Pennsylvania penitentiary, begins a new life in Chicago with his second wife.
William McIlvaney, The Papers of Tony Veitch
Another second novel in a trilogy. McIlvaney’s Glasgow is harder than either Chandler’s L.A. or Hammett’s San Francisco.
Horacio Castellanos Moya, Dance With Snakes
A surreal critique of post-Civil War El Salvador.
Ling Ma, Severance
While not as dire as The Road or Last Man Standing, this post-apocalyptic novel troubles the banalities of consumer capitalism.
China Mieville, This Census Taker
Reminiscent of Coetzee’s best work, this novel resists specificity to such a degree that it resembles an allegory.
Jeff Vandermeer, Borne
By the author of Annihilation. If David Cronenberg is the master of body horror, Vandermeer pulls focus to the environment itself.
The Shape of Water
A beautiful companion to Creature From the Black Lagoon.
You Were Never Really Here
Possibly Lynne Ramsay’s most powerful film.
I loved this in part because I remember the events it describes.
What happens when your framework for interpreting reality fails?
Malcolm McDowell’s first feature. A story of youth revolution.
Cotton Comes to Harlem
Ossie Davis directed this adaptation of Chester Himes’s hard-boiled novel.
The Fall of Berlin
Young Karl Marx
KM was a punk avant le lettre.
Shock Corridor for the Aughts.
At the core of any effort to contemplate Youth Subculture.
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The most revisionist Western. James Coburn has a serpentine charm.
A spare, beautiful film that cuts to the frozen heart of capital.
This is interesting and fun and includes a narrative analysis of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies:
Honoré de Balzac, Père Goriot (France 1834) 978-0199538751
John Dos Passos, 1919 (US 1932) 9780618056828
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (UK 1818) 978-0143131847
Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Tram 83 (Congo 2015) 978-1941920046
John Dos Passos, 1919 (1932) 9780618056828
Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie (1900) 9780199539086
Chester Himes, Cotton Comes to Harlem (1965) 9780394759999
Ling Ma, Severance (2018) 9780374261597
JG Ballard, Kingdom Come (UK) 978-0871403193
Vladimir Sorokin, Day of the Oprichnik (Russia) 978-0374533106
Ling Ma, Severance (China/US) 978-0374261597
Byung-Chul Han, Psycho-Politics (Korea/Germany) 978-1784785772
Undated photo of an Aztec ceremony re-enactment: