Archive | Essays

Baptizing the Monster: ‘Mary Shelley’

What follows is a transcript of a talk I gave about the biopic Mary Shelley for the Westchester Film Club, where I often deliver lectures on new independent and foreign film releases.

The best way to discuss this film may be to unpack it like one of those Russian nesting dolls that stack level upon level upon level.

So let’s start with who is behind this lens. As David may have told you, it is directed by Haiffa al Mansour, who also cowrote the script with Emma Jensen. Haiffa’s first feature was 2013’s Wadjda, the first Saudi-Arabian film to be directed by a Saudi woman. That in itself is a mind-blowing accomplishment, given the restrictions women face in that country, but the movie itself, a coming-of-age story about a female tween rebel, is a wonder. I strongly recommend it if you have not already seen it. Continue Reading →

peonies and pennies and twice is not a curse

Once when I had been making love for hours with a man I loved who loved me, he went to kiss my arm and kissed his own instead.

This was a man I’d seen on a subway and then on a sidewalk and then on a subway, a man who had finally strode up to me with a grin and worried, kind eyes and said, “I fear I’d be terribly remiss if I did not say hello” and it was ok, the way he phrased it, because he was British and it didn’t feel like we were in the present so much as a noir of a neverexistent 1930s–

–a present that seemed like a future of a past infinitely purer and prettier than anything dreamed by this present–

and so we began circling each other, going for walks in the parks, meeting for chaste diner breakfasts, falling in step with birds, early spring air, the stoops of 90s brownstone brooklyn jamaican patties kids biking barbeque smoke smog pollen, until one day he bent down and his mouth met mine

and we fell into each other like it was where we were supposed to be all along. Continue Reading →

City Mouse, Country House

Grace and I just returned to the city. For six days we sat on the screened-in porch of A’s house and watched May explode. Oh, I thrifted and wrote and she chased bugs and sunspots. Definitely I tromped through meadows, woodland paths in so many shades of green that some appeared gold and some appeared indigo.

But mostly we sat still and drank it all in.

When I stayed in Hudson before, I never ventured off the paths of A’s land. But since Truro’s mermaid woods I’ve gotten much bolder about venturing into uncharted territory. I’m less afraid of getting lost, and trust the sun even in the middle of the forest. Continue Reading →

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