The Daily

This Week's Reading

What We’re Loving: Trains, Stalkers, and Virgins

May 3, 2013 | by

train-indianIn the 1930s, thirteen-year-old Frank Moshinskie started to build a miniature town for his toy trains. Now run by his son and made up of hundreds of buildings, hand-carved figures, and replicas of national landmarks, Tiny Town Trains is a beloved attraction of Hot Springs, Arkansas. If, like me, you can’t make it down any time soon, check out this amazing video from the Oxford American. It’s no wonder Tiny Town! was nominated for a National Magazine Award; it truly conveys the magic of the miniature, and the definition of labor of love. —Sadie Stein

Last month, Text Publishing launched its Text Classics in the United States, reprints of long out-of-print books, many of which have never been available here. Their first list is made up primarily of books by Australian novelists, and I think I can count on one hand the number of Australian novels I’ve read. So I seized on Elizabeth Harrower’s The Watch Tower, originally published in 1966. What a discovery! Harrower’s voice in this book is disconcerting at first: almost fatigued, as though she knows that everything to come is fated to be so and there’s little to do but tell the story. And her characters—two young sisters—likewise passively accept the events that befall them. This fatalism is absorbing, though, as you watch the women move slowly through a comatose state into a kind of awakening. In fact, the story reminded me at times of A Doll’s House—namely, in the younger sister’s internal striving for selfhood and independence—but the long tale of the sisters’ subjugation is far more excruciating than what Ibsen imagined. —Nicole Rudick

There is a mild controversy in the (new!) offices of The Paris Review surrounding Colm Tóibín’s Broadway play The Testament of Mary—let’s just say reviews are mixed. I, for one, was stunned by Fiona Shaw’s performance, and by Tóibín’s deft rewriting of the story of Mary. Idolized into silence, the Mother of Jesus is a stiff figure in blue for most of us (even those of us who went to nominally Anglican all-girls schools, where you’d think someone would have said that, immaculate conceptions aside, she was actually pretty similar to us). Shaw and Tóibín have given her a mind and a voice and a body. The whole ensemble is strange and gothic—she spends a fair amount of time pulling on a bottle of wine while a bird of prey looks on. But it also has a little Monty Python in it, thank god. Religion seems at once inevitable and absurd, and Mary herself utterly human. Highly recommended—whether you like it or not. —Olivia Walton

I first saw Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker when I was twelve. I lived near an amazing public library whose movie collection was extensive and whose staff never questioned the kid checking out R-rated European art-house flicks. Reading Geoff Dyer’s Zona brought back this particular memory; while the book is about Stalker, it’s also about trying to understand what we cherish and fear—our memories, wishes, regrets. I’ll be honest: the first time I saw the film I didn’t understand it, but I was moved. Dyer would agree; as he comments, we’re just along for the ride. —Justin Alvarez

Anyone who’s been following our social media knows that we moved into a new office this week; on Monday, we said goodbye to TriBeCa and hello to Chelsea. Days of unpacking have followed, and our record player—largely unused in our old space—is enjoying a renaissance. Don Williams and Emmylou Harris, well represented in our music library, have been spinning frequently, but they’ve got me hankering for some Gary Stewart, whom we have none of. “Drinkin’ Thing” has been playing from my computer until we finagle a vinyl recording. —Clare Fentress

 

2 COMMENTS

2 Comments

  1. Greg Milner | May 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    You HAVE to be joking about Gary Stewart. Ugh, probably represents the worst of what could be allegedly termed “country music” unless you are engaging in some now trite form of hipster irony, I suppose.

    Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, or, hell, even Hank Williams. But for goodness sake, not some tired, pop-country, quavering-voiced 70s caricature like this guy.

  2. Clare Fentress | May 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Greg—thanks for your comment. But I’m not joking about Gary Stewart.

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