I loved Lydia Millet’s My Happy Life. Surprising and complicated and bizarro-lyrical, it jumps from insight to beautiful insight via a woman too oblivious to know she’s had a terrible life. And it’s the life itself that’s the most interesting thing of all: getting to enjoy both her perception of what happened and trying to figure out what was going on all around the narrator in the telling details she doesn’t understand. Also very funny at times. The tragic Forrest Gump minus leaf in the breeze. That’s dumb. Never mind. It made me think of the new Robert Lopez book that he read from when he was in town–both are narrated from locked rooms.
Also really enjoying dipping into Heather Christle’s The Difficult Farm, reading words already powerful with the benefit of Heather’s commanding and kinda mesmerizing reading voice still in my head.
Also making my way through Tobias Wolff’s solid The Night in Question. The last story, “Bullet in the Brain,” was made into a bad short film with Tom Noonan, who plays Sammy in “Synecdoche, NY.” It’s not really Tom’s fault, though–it just makes the rookie mistake of voice-over narration that ruins everything. Lines that are exciting in the story are rendered dumb and sentimental.
Speaking of–I tried to watch “Bright Lights, Big City” a couple of weeks ago, and it was bad in exactly the same way. We’re in a scene, having an OK time, then Michael J. Fox’s voice speaks up and stops everything to read to me from McInerney’s book. He’s also just not a convincing cokehead. I made it about a half hour in.
What about good text + video? Try this: Hear a great essay by Brian Oliu while watching someone kick ass at Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. Two people excelling in such different ways, united by the same game. There’s a well-synched part in there where Oliu mentions the day/night switch just as the onscreen game turns to day.