Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"The Mound"

Grognardia on H.P. Lovecraft as reviser/collaborator:

Of course, Lovecraft being Lovecraft, he frequently rewrote nearly the entirety of the story he was merely supposed to revise. The result is something that should, in most respects, be considered a Lovecraft story. However, because he took seriously the notion that he was revising someone else's work, HPL did he best to retain as much of his client's ideas as possible, even when, in the final analysis, only the barest skeleton of non-Lovecraftian material can be seen in the revision. Thus, there's generally enough non-Lovecraftian concepts in these revisions to set them apart from the "pure" Lovecraft corpus, which is why some fans turn their nose up at them and treat them as "lesser" works.

I don't feel that way, since, as in the case of "The Mound," the story in question is massive in length -- over 25,000 words -- and filled with terrific Lovecraftian ideas. Written for a client by the name of Zealia Bishop, who lived in Kansas City, "The Mound" was begun sometime in 1929 and completed by 1930, but it did not see print until 1940, several years after Lovecraft's death. Even when it did appear in Weird Tales, it was a much abridged version, which probably contributed to the ill fame in which the story was held for many years. The full, original version of "The Mound" did not see print until 1989, in an Arkham House publication edited by S.T. Joshi and my reading of it a few years afterward convinced me that it is, in fact, a remarkable piece of work, one that ought to stand in the higher ranks of Lovecraft's fiction. [...]

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Enhanced blog post (see previous entry)

II. Did Donald E. Westlake ever meet William Eastlake? If so, what did they talk about—lakes??

Lake effect

I. Has anyone read more Donald E. Westlake than Levi Stahl? Instrumental in getting the Parker books back into print via UChicago, he's been reading books by one of Westlake's other pseuds., Tucker Coe.

II. Did Donald E. Westlake ever meet William Eastlake?

III. Hey 33 1/3 — there's another dots-template holdout, besides Disambiguation (aka The Dizzies): the invaluable cinephile blog Termite Art.

I'm saying that it's not too late to come back to the dots-fold. All is forgiven!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The End

1. The first film originally ended with Arthur giving up a nine-figure inheritance in exchange for wedded bliss. “We tested it, and it was clear the audience would have had our heads,” recalled Larry Brezner, that film’s presenting producer. A new ending was quickly shot in which Arthur lived not only happily but also wealthily ever after.
“The idea,” Mr. Brezner said, “was: Give Arthur the money, bring up the music loud and get the audience the hell out of the theater happy, before they have time to think about it. The trick to an irrational ending is speed.”The trick to an irrational ending is speed.” —NYT on the Arthur remake

2. The love of form is a love of endings —Louise Glück

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend lyric

Listen to "The Sarge," one of a bunch of great new recent songs by my F.S.* Casey Black, and marvel at how he inserts the word "hippocampus" into the lyric.

*former student


Friday, August 27, 2010

Four for Wodehouse

I. "DID Bertie Wooster mean to harm Barbara Geltosky in September 2008? The evidence against him is damning. For instance, the hole that Bertie, Ms. Geltosky’s 5-year-old Norwegian elkhound, dug in the garden was 12 inches across and 12 inches deep — the perfect size for a human foot." —NYT

II. From David Lipsky's Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, we learn that David Foster Wallace had a dog named Jeeves and a dog named Drone.

III. "Mr. [Harry Stephen] Keeler is infinitely plausible at infinite speed. He is a serious Wooster of the thrills." —Daily Telegraph.

IV. Annals of Facial Hair

"I have come to a decision Mrs Twemlow."
"What about?"
"Ever since his lordship srted to grow it I have seen the writing on the wall plainer and plainer, and now I have made up my mind. The moment his lordship returns from London, I tender my resignation. Eighteen years have I served in his lordship's household, commencing as under-footman and rising to my present position, but now the end has come."
"You don't mean you're going just because his lordship has grown a beard?"
"It is the only way, Mrs Twemlow. That beard is weakening his lordship's position throughout the entire country-side. Are you aware that at the recent Sunday school treat I heard cries of 'Beaver!'?"
—Wodehouse, "Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best," Blandings Castle

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Modern shmodern

From the traitors at 33 1/3:

"We thought after 5 years, it was about time to update the look of the blog to something slightly more modern. (Thanks, Ally Jane!) I believe that means that Ed Park's blog is quite possibly the last blog in the entire world wide web using the "dots" template. Truly the end of an era..."

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best paragraph in yesterday's Times

"The defense was perfect."


Monday, August 23, 2010

Peak to peak

The material itself is complicated by the fact that there is no beginning or ending to any book—each record as we now have it, starts on a mountain peak, wanders from peak to peak, covering 2,000 miles, and winds up on another peak—with no possible way of determining where, on the face of the globe, that first peak may have been located. —Henriette Mertz, Pale Ink


Then they; or, The itinerary

4Whereupon they departed and arrived at Ppoole, where the remainder of the Itzá were increased in number; they took the women of Ppole as their mothers. 5 Then they arrived at Ake; 6 there they were born at Ake. Ake it was called here, as they said. Then they arrived at Alaa; Alaa was its name here, they said. Then they came to Tixchel, where their words and discourse were prolonged. 7 Then they arrived at Ninum, where their words and conversations were many. 8 Then they arrived at Chikin-¢onot, 9 where their faces were turned to the west. Chikin-¢onot was its name here, so they said. Then they arrived at Tzuc-oop, where they remained apart under the Anona tree. 10 Tzuc-op was its name here, so they said. Then they arrived at Tah-cab (Tahcabo), where the Itzas stirred the honey. Then it was drunk by X-koh-takin. 11
When the honey was stirred, she drank it at Cabilneba, 12 as it was called. Then they arrived/at Kikil, 13 where they contracted dysentery. Kikil was its name here, so they said. Then they arrived at Panabhaa, where they dug for water. 13 Then they came to Cucuchilhaa; they settled at the deep water. 14Then they arrived at Yalzihon; Yalzihon was its name here, where they settled the town. Then they arrived at Xppitah (Espita), also a town. Then they arrived at Kancab¢onot. They departed and arrived at ¢ula. Then they came to Pibhaal¢onot. Then they arrived at Tahaac, as it was called. Then they came to Ticooh, where they haggled for that which was dear. 1 Ticoh was its name here. Then they arrived at Tikal, where they shut themselves in. 2Tikal was its name here. Then they came to Timaax, where they made complete rogues of themselves. 3 Then they arrived at Buctzotz, where they covered the hair of their heads with a garment. Buctzotz was its name here, so they said. Then they arrived at ¢i¢ontun, where a malevolent man began to seize the land. 4 It was called ¢iholtun here. Then they arrived at Yobain, where the crocodile 5 bewitched them through their maternal grandfather, Ah Yamazi, their ruler at the seashore. Then they arrived at Zinanche, where the devil bewitched them. 6 Zinanche was its name here. Then they arrived at the town of Chac. 7 Then they arrived at ¢euc; their companions contended with one another. Then the maternal grandfather of their companions arrived to reconcile them at ¢emul, 8 as it was called here. Then they arrived at Kini at the home of Xkil Itzam Pech. 9 Their companions were at X¢euc when they arrived at the home of Xkil Itzam Pech, the ruler of the people of Kini. Then they arrived at Baca, 10 where water was poured out for them. It was Baca here, so they said. Then they arrived at Zabacnail, the home of their maternal grandfather, the first of the men of the Na ; this was Chel Na, their maternal grandfather. Then they arrived at Tebenaa, where they remembered their mother. Then they went to Ixil. Then they went to Chulul. Then they went to Holtun-chable. Then they came to Itzamna (Itzimná). Then they came to Chubulna. Then they arrived at Caucel, where they all shivered with cold. 11 It was Caucel here, so they said. Then they arrived at Ucu, where they said: "ya ucu." 12 Then they went to Hunucma. Then they arrived at Kinchil. Then they went to kana. Then they arrived at Tixpetoncah. Then they arrived at Zahab-balam. Then they arrived at Tahcum-chakan. Then they arrived at Tixbalche. Then they arrived at Uxmal. Then they departed and arrived at Tixyubak. Then they arrived at Munaa, where their words were soft. 1 Then they went to Oxlochhok. Then they went to Chac-akal. 2 Then they went to Xocneceh; the deer was their familiar spirit 3 when they arrived. Then they went to Ppuztunich. Then they went to Pucnalchac. Then they went to Ppencuyut. Then they went to Paxueuet. 4 Then they arrived at Tixaya (Xaya). Then they arrived at Tiztiz, as it is called. Then they arrived at Chican. 5 Then they arrived at Tixmeuac. Then they arrived at Hunacthi. 6 Then they arrived at Titzal. 7 Then they arrived at Tamuzbulna. Then they arrived at Tixcan. Then they arrived at Lop. 8 Then they arrived at Cheemiuan. Then they arrived at Oxcauanka. Then they went to Zacbacelcan. Then they arrived at Cetelac. 9

–"The Rise of Hunac Ceel to Power," The Books of Chilam Balam

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Is your name 'Ace'?"

(Via Mike)

Friday, August 20, 2010

I already wrote it

My latest Astral Weeks column is a review of Charles Yu's excellent new novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Here's a bit from the book:

Apparently, I'm going to write this book, which appears to be, as far as I can tell, part engineering field manual and part autobiography. Or rather, I already wrote it. Now I just have to write it, which is to say, I have to get to the point in time when I will have written it, and then travel back in time to get shot and then give it to myself, so I can write it. Which all makes sense to me, except for one thing: why the hell would I want to do any of that?

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Two bits

I. Jenny: "[T]hey are like the thinking man's Jonathan Kellerman, but still only the dimly thinking man."

II. Charles Lamb via that epitome of modernity, Levi, mourning the passing of the...sundial:

What a dead thing is a clock, with its ponderous embowelments of lead and brass, its pert or solemn altar-like structure, and silent heart-language of the old dial! It stood as the garden god of Christian gardens. Why is it almost every where vanished?

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

You could write a book while falling apart

Only Lloyd Cole could get away with a song called "Writers Retreat!"—I like how that second word could be a verb.

(Via Dave Daley)


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tarka the Otter

China Miéville finds "an indispensible dissident paradigm for literary canonisation" in a novel from 1946:

“Not all,” Ferris said; “one or two are pinchbeck stuff compared with the rest; but most of them, I believe, are not only this rare sort of book, but first rate as literature.” He ran his fingers slowly along the backs of the books. “Listen to these: Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris; Beckford’s Vathek; the Grossmiths’ Diary of a Nobody; Last and First Men, by Olaf Stapledon; Trelawny’s Adventures of a Younger Son; Canton’s The Invisible Playmate; Baron Corvo’s Hadrian the Seventh; Barbellion’sJournal of a Disappointed Man; Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Margaret Irwin’s Still She Wished for Company; Helen Beauclerc’s Love of the Foolish Angel; Donn Byrne’sMesser Marco Polo; Ollivant’s Owd Bob; Lamb’s Rosamund Gray; Paltock’s Peter Wilkins; Melville’s Moby Dick; Williamson’s Tarka the Otter; and Grahame’s The Golden Age. That’s the tally so far, and I’ve been nearly twenty years making it. That averages one a year. But I’ve gone years without finding one. Of course it’s a purely personal choice. It entails a lot of reading. But then I do a lot.”

(Also, nice use of the word "pinchbeck.")

(Via L.G. Thos.)

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There must be some misunderstanding

Cory Arcangel provides the only New Yorker caption you'll ever need...

(Via L.G. Thos.)


Monday, August 16, 2010

Shall we dance

The Stanky Leg...the Tootsee Roll...the Dougie.

(Via Jane)

Hammer time!

Who has the best name in baseball?

Schwindenhammer, which translates literally into “Swing the Hammer” in German, would be the longest name in Major League history, surpassing that of Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. —Boston Globe

(Via Jane)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A year of cajoling

The Utne Reader on Joe Hagan's fascinating Believer piece on Nina Simone:

Somehow Hagan, “after a year of cajoling,” convinced Simone’s ex-husband, Andrew Stroud, to talk about his nine-year marriage with the singer. Quite the feat, given that Stroud wouldn’t even talk to Simone’s biographer.

The striking portion of this access, though, comes not in Stroud’s discussion of his relationship with Simone, but through Simone’s own writing, which Hagan dives into to give a heartbreaking glimpse of the difficulties that at times stormed Simone.

It's not too late to get your copy of the Believer's 2010 Music Issue...You won't be sorry! Order here or grab one at the bookstore.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Visions of "Cathy"

1. Rkellybouros.
(Via Andrew)

2. Jacket Copy reports on the end of Cathy...though longtime Cathy-followers saw it coming years ago:

(I miss scanning stuff.)

3. Happy birthday, Mom!!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who will run the chicken factory?

Naturally, as the adventure proceeds, the characters discover that they can do more than that: they can, through their discoveries, ensure the continued survival of Far-Go for years to come. That's because, among the places the characters visit is a La Prix Industries Automated Chicken Processing Factory -- inhabited by giant mutant chickens, of course! If the characters can defeat the mutants and communicate with the factory's computer, they can make an arrangement to get many months' worth of processed chicken patties to feed Far-Go and save the day. —Grognardia

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What is it?

It's hard to know which part to excerpt here: Rob Sheffield on music criticism (It's a lot more joyous than that sounds), at 17 dots.

I was a librarian. Part of why I loved being in and working at a library is that it meant reading and listening to my Walkman, which were my two favorite things. After I got off my shift, I would go to another room in the library with the microfilm. You could often find Village Voices and Boston Phoenixes archived, back to the ’70s.

You could read Greil Marcus’s [Voice] review of [Van Morrison’s] Veedon Fleece six months after it came out, when he said, “This album came out, I wrote a good review, forgot about it. Then I heard it at a friend’s house the other day for dinner and was like, ‘This is great. What is it?’ ‘Well, it’s Van Morrison. I bought it because you said it was good.’” And he does a whole new review. Writing about records six months after they came out is usually more interesting.

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    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Alphabetical America

    When he got sick of the South, Mr. Huang said, he decided to go to Buffalo for a Ph.D. in English literature. He felt, he writes in “Charlie Chan,” “like a bottom-feeding fish, one that cannot see the light of day in the muddy pond of America.”

    But why Buffalo? “Buffalo begins with B,” he said, grinning. He worked as a delivery boy there, but happily gave up the restaurant business. “Graduate school is really easy compared to restaurant work,” he pointed out. —Charles McGrath, "Charlie Chan: A Stereotype and a Hero," NYT

    Postscript: Nabokov: "I am as American as April in Arizona."

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    Destination unknown

    He grooms for effect, too, maintaining a mustache so thin that it prompts a double take — is that lip liner or actual hair? — and a goatee that on this occasion crawled like a spider plant to a destination below his chin. His natty-meets-naughty aesthetic is all his own, and it carries over to his phraseology, which weds scholarly words and cheeky colloquialisms. A little-known wine, for example, is “esoteric juice.”—Frank Bruni, The Tipsy Diaries, NYT


    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Annals of facial hair: His New Friend

    From the NYT (aka The Beard Gazette):

    CORTLAND, N.Y. — Braylon Edwards has turned his beard into a person. Over the past week alone, The Beard here to Jets training camp, conducted interviews and considered making T-shirts.

    Braylon Edwards was selected No. 3 over all by Cleveland in 2005, but he says he feels more comfortable with Rex Ryan and the Jets. “This is all I ever needed,” he said.

    Edwards started growing his new friend months ago, and it now juts some six glorious inches from his chin. The Beard represents Edwards’s most obvious growth since the Jets traded for him last season. It also underscores his continuing revival, away, Edwards hopes, from the perceptions that have plagued him, toward potential again fulfilled.

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    Annals of hair

    Tim Tebow was all the buzz Saturday night at the Denver Broncos' practice.

    The rookie quarterback stood out not only for his play at practice but for his shaved locks, the top of his head completely sheared to leave a ring of hair that made him look like a monk....


    (From Jane)

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    "Seven People Have Been Entrusted With the Keys to the Internet." —Gizmodo, 7/27/2010 (More here.)

    "The company that owns the Thomas’ brand says that only seven people know how the muffins get their trademark tracery of air pockets — marketed as nooks and crannies — and it has gone to court to keep a tight lid on the secret." William Neuman, "A Man With Muffin Secrets, But No Job With Them," NYT,8/6/2010

    Sunday, August 08, 2010

    Annals of facial hair, office edition

    Chin Up!
    I work the second shift in an office where cubicles are shared. The fellow who uses my cubicle in the first shift has a luxuriant beard. Every night, I come to work and find beard hairs all over the desk and keyboard. I find this incredibly disgusting. Is there a polite way of asking him to clean up after himself?

    How about weaving those molted whiskers into a wreath that you can hang from your shared cubicle wall — with a bit of verse attached:

    “Your beard is handsome
    and deserves an award.
    But on your face,
    Not in my keyboard.
    Don’t forget to tidy!”

    And if you’re short on time, feel free to skip the wreath.

    NYT, Social Q's

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    Who is Hans Keilson?

    In today's NYT Book Review, Francine Prose comes right out and says it:

    For busy, harried or distractible readers who have the time and energy only to skim the opening paragraph of a review, I’ll say this as quickly and clearly as possible: “The Death of the Adversary” and “Comedy in a Minor Key” are masterpieces, and Hans Keilson is a genius.

    And the SF Chronicle talks to the translator of Comedy, Damion Searls...whose fascinating piece on Keilson's life and work will appear in the next issue (Sept.) of The Believer. Stay tuned!

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    Saturday, August 07, 2010

    And the award for most gratuitous/best butler deployment in a review goes to...

    By then Kerouac had discovered Buddhism, and this is where things begin to get thick for the reader of these letters. Two stoned white guys writing almost exclusively about dhyana and the like — and I can think of no better way to describe the long middle section of this book — are generally interesting only to each other. “Neal begins there is no beginning and end to the world, the karmic ­etheric akasha essence substance vibrating continuously in all the billion universes and our atman-entities rushing around” is a typical passage, the like of which made me wish I had a butler standing behind me exploding paper bags every time I nodded.
    —Blake Bailey on Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, NYTBR

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    Friday, August 06, 2010


    The term "Psionics" should be followed by "(sic)" in most works dealing with roleplaying game rules, for it is typically misused. (A good indicator of how well the authors have researched their work, and how little the publisher knows about it, too!). Psionics means "electronically enhanced psychic, or psychogenic, ability." It is as simple as that. —Gary Gygax

    (Via Grognardia, naturally)

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    Wednesday, August 04, 2010

    Norwegian Wood—the movie

    (Via Galleycat)


    Manratten murder mystery

    Startling Dutch detective fiction covers at A Journey Round My Skull.


    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    True love revolution.

    I like how Rachel Aviv's new website looks like the cover (front and back) of a retrospective album, Stories and Essays, by an austere synth-and-guitar corps (cryptically named "Rachel Aviv"), ca. 1986–1991.

    This essential album includes Listening to Braille," "Toastmaster," "Enter Sandman," and "Nightmare on Orchard Street," plus other legendary tracks.


    The end of Kodachrome

    "Imagine leaving digital images in a hard drive and coming back 40 years later. Would anybody be able to read that data? That's the great thing about film. It's a self-contained object. You hold the picture up to the light and there it is." —AP

    Getting to the bottom of Triceratops

    "Finally it became fenestrated, producing the classic torosaurus form."—New Scientist

    (Via Lincoln)



    As the forlorn purlieus of the railway-station end of the town gave place to colleges, reverie, banal if you like, though eminently Burtonesque, turned towards the relatively high proportion of persons known pretty well at an earlier stage of life, both here and elsewhere, now dead, gone off their rocker, withdrawn into states of existence they–or I–had no wish to share. The probability was that even without cosmic upheaval some kind of reshuffle has to take place halfway through life, a proposition borne out by the autobiographies arriving thick and fast—three or four at a time at regular intervals—for review in one of the weeklies. At this very moment my bag was weighed down by several of these volumes, to be dealt with in time off from the seventeenth century [work on a study of Robert Burton]: Purged Not in Lethe...A Stockbroker in Sandals...Slow on the Feather...Moss off a Rolling Stone...chronicles of somebody or other's individual fate, on the whole unenthralling enough, except insomuch as every individual's story has its enthralling aspect, though the essential pivot was usually omitted or obscured by most autobiographers. —Anthony Powell, Books Do Furnish a Room


    Monday, August 02, 2010

    This line was in my head all day

    Reverting to the university at forty, one immediately recaptured all the crushing melancholy of the undergraduate condition. —Anthony Powell, Books Do Furnish a Room


    Pitch dark

    The old man who owned the farmhouse brewed pickles in its unfinished basement, and sometimes in the middle of the night, when I had done every last other thing I could think of doing, besides writing, I would go down there and jimmy the latch on it. I was afraid to turn on the light, and risk getting caught, so I would feel around in the pitch dark and fish the half-pickled pickles out of their barrels by touch. Then I would crouch there on the dirt floor in the dark, swigging from a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream and gnawing on the pickles the way a castaway gnaws on the bones of his deceased companions.

    One night, when the temperature reached fifteen degrees below zero, I took all my clothes off and ran around outside just to see what it felt like.

    I was losing my mind.

    —Lev Grossman, "How Not to Become a Writer," from his blog


    Wondrously uncomfortable

    Ken Chen at NYFA: "I recently hosted the most unpleasant literary reading I’ve ever attended—a poetic listening experience so wondrously uncomfortable that it led me to think about the purpose of poetry readings and the expectations we have of poetry itself...."

    * * *

    Ken is not only the director of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, but the author of the Yale Younger Poets-winning Juvenilia, which is highly recommended—in other words, a book of poetry that I actually bought!

    Trivia: Can anyone tell me which film the cover image comes from?


    Sunday, August 01, 2010

    The two kinds of people

    There are two kinds of people, he thought. Those that smear peanut butter on one cracker at a time, eating one and then preparing another, in an exhausting and laborious fashion; and those who industriously and patiently smear peanut butter on a whole row of crackers at once, then savor the uninterrupted eating of the row. Which kind was he? The former.

    —The Notebooks of Parkus Grammaticus


    Pride and prejudice

    "Anyway, when Arthur comes here again in the autumn you will be able to see for yourself. You're only prejudiced against him because he wears a beard and he says that he's going to shave that off." —Anthony Powell, From a View to a Death


    "Alas! We have now arrived in the real."

    "Rather than simply suborn us through glamorous evocations of criminal pleasures, the deeper purpose of Les Chants de Maldoror is to sabotage the central clauses of the writer–reader contract, if not the protocols of literature at large."
    —Roger Cardinal, "Lautréamont's poison-drenched pages," TLS



    At Mubi (??), Miram Bale on Alain Resnais's chronology of Last Year at Marienbad:

    And Rivette's "Jeu de l'oie" game for the streets of Paris:

    (Via Ed C's Twitter feed.)

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