Weird Fiction, High Hopes: ‘High-Rise’

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 7.10.24 AMJ.G. Ballard, whose 1975 British novel High-Rise has been adapted into a film opening this month in the United States, could be described as one of the preeminent twentieth-century writers of “weird fiction” – a term spawned by H. P. Lovecraft to describe his own work and the work of other writers he liked. They are tales, as David Tompkins has written, “not necessarily supernatural in intent but ones that aim to create a sense of dread, awe, terror, and the like.” Perfect fodder for film, in other words, especially in an era in which apocalyptic cinema is the name of the game in multiplexes and arthouses alike.

As point of fact, in many ways “High-Rise” is a better film than it is a book, which is not a statement I have many occasions to deliver. It stars Tom Hiddleston as Robert Laing, a recently divorced doctor who moves into a vast luxury condo tower and immediately succumbs to its Bacchanalian glamour. Continue Reading →

The Farewell Symphony, Across Space and Time

As Joshua’s words come echoing across the water and down the years to me, I can’t help thinking that his life was not just his finest thoughts about poetry and friendship, expressed in a style that rejected forcefulness in favor of sympathy, but it was also comprised of his long mornings in his dressing gown with his telephone, newspapers, the Hu Kwa smoked tea and the little sterling-silver strainer that sat in its drip cup when it wasn’t straddled across a cup catching leaves. His life was made up of his pleasure in the morning glories as well as his hilarity ….After [his death] I looked through all the letters I’d ever received from Joshua and I realized I’d been unworthy of him then, that he’d been sending them through time to me as I would become years later. –Edmund White, The Farewell Symphony Continue Reading →

Mad-Hattan and Berserklyn, N.Y.

liser and luciWhat with the heavens exploding all around us, New Yorkers have gone rather batty over the last few days. It used to be such battiness was business as usual, but as rents have steadily increased, so have the rates of NYC normalcy. Though it’s rarely acknowledged, New Yorkers have become some of the nation’s biggest conformists since the “Friends”-style gentrification began with the Rudy Giuliani Reign of Terror. Every generation of NY mourns the one that preceded them, of course, but I think I am right in preferring the Lady Bunnies of Alphabet City over the assless chaps who now preside over Nouveau Brooklyn. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy