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Posts Tagged ‘Martin Amis’

Get Ready to Revel

February 12, 2014 | by

revel 2014

Just when you thought you couldn’t wish for spring any more fervently, news arrives of our Spring Revel. Save the date: on Tuesday, April 8, writers, poets, artists, editors, readers, supporters, eminences, patrons of the arts, bon vivants, and other all-around admirable sorts will convene at Cipriani 42nd Street for a legendary evening. Women’s Wear Daily calls the Revel “the best party in town”; Mary Karr calls it “prom for New York intellectuals.”

This year, we’ll honor Frederick Seidel with the Hadada Award, to be presented by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Lydia Davis will present the Plimpton Prize for Fiction; Roz Chast will present the Terry Southern Prize for Humor; and Martin Amis, Charlotte Rampling, and Zadie Smith will all read. There will be dinner, and cocktails, and unabated merriment, thanks in no small part to our event chairs, Chris Weitz and Mercedes Martinez.

We’d love to see you there! Tickets and tables are available now.

 

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Martin Amis Owes Everything to His “Wicked Stepmother,” and Other News

January 6, 2014 | by

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Photography: Maximilian Schönherr, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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Lost in Translation: Notes on Adapting Ballard

December 9, 2013 | by

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The first sentence of J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise ranks, in my estimation, among the most striking ever written. It begins with a characteristic bit of misdirection:

Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the usual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.

It’s a singular accomplishment: one word into the novel and the reader is already disoriented, groping for the context of time, left to wonder what precisely constitutes the implied before. This is typical of the sensations incited by reading Ballard’s prose. His writing throbs with vigor and curiosity, springing forth the recesses of his vision, every sentence wound into curlicues of imagination. It’s rich, robustly literary stuff—which is to say intensely literary stuff, difficult to envision translated faithfully to the silver screen. An aesthetic medium, the cinema seems ill-equipped to convey the density of great prose, to illustrate externally the inner life articulated with nuance by words. Film is bound to a certain literalism: the indexical relationship between the image and what it communicates is direct, unavoidable. A film can’t describe—it can only show.

We refer to this as medium specificity—those qualities which distinguish the art of literature from the art of cinema, as well as from theater, painting, poetry, and so on. When a literary work is adapted as a film, the specificity of the art must be translated: it may be about the same thing, but, to paraphrase Roger Ebert, how it’s about what it’s about needs to be reconceived. Now, a variety of screenwriters and directors have sought to realize a film version of High-Rise since its publication in 1975, including Paul Mayersberg, Nicolas Roeg, and, much more recently, Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali, whose take came perhaps the closest to fruition. Only now has it finally seemed underway: British director Ben Wheatley, the radical auteur responsible for Kill List and Sightseers, has been confirmed as the project’s new lead and is set to begin shooting in early 2014. We will learn soon enough how he has dealt with the issues of translation. Read More »

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Wild and Crazy Libraries, and Other News

May 7, 2013 | by

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  • “It is definitely not your mother’s Donnell,” says the New York Times, ominously, of the new plans for the Fifty-Third Street branch of the New York Public Library.
  • Famously reclusive eighty-seven-year-old national treasure Harper Lee is suing literary agent Samuel Pinkus over the copyright for To Kill a Mockingbird. Says Lee’s lawyer, “Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see … Harper Lee had no idea she had assigned her copyright.”
  • The new Goodreads archnemesis (our word), Riffle, is live.
  • Martin Amis apparently “views the Brooklyn hipster scene as populated by conventional posers.”
  • If fictional mothers wrote hypothetical parenting books—because why not?

 

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The Funnies, Part 5

May 3, 2013 | by

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Larger Than Life: An Interview with Will Self

August 9, 2012 | by

Last August, I interviewed Will Self—whose latest novel Umbrella has just been long-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize—in his London home. I had been given two weeks to prepare and I was quite terrified. My terror was warranted; I had spent the last ten days immersed in his hallucinatory fictional worlds, composed of seven novels, three novellas, and countless short stories. Through these parallel and often overlapping fictions, Self has constructed a relentless critique of our institutional failings, hypocritical cultural mores, and political inadequacies. My fears, notwithstanding being intellectually dwarfed, were largely to do with the sheer madness of many of his writings. Here was the writer who, over the years, had invented:

1. A man who wakes up with a vagina behind his left knee and has an affair with his (male) GP (Bull: A Farce);

2. A parallel Earth populated by nymphomaniacal and exhibitionist apes seen through the eyes of its most prominent experimental psychiatrists (Great Apes);

3. The afterlife taking place in the purgatorial London district of “Dulston,” a suburb populated uniquely by senseless, chain-smoking dead people, haunted by their aborted fetuses and old neuroses, and living out the rest of infinity in dire office jobs (How the Dead Live);

4. A postapocalyptic London governed by a religion based on a cab driver named Dave’s insane writings to his estranged son in the 2000s (The Book of Dave).

And then there was the public figure—an acerbic satirist of towering intellect, a giant man of letters with a rhetorical bite strong enough to tear a lesser being apart. By the time I rang on the doorbell, Will Self had, to my mind, transmogrified into The Fat Controller—the Mephistophelian antihero in his My Idea of Fun—ready to shred me from limb to limb for my idiotic questions and inadequate readings.

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