Attentive readers will have noticed that I’ve added a few items to the blogroll, but here’s a rundown:
I’ve no excuse for not adding Scott Esposito’s Conversational Reading to the blogroll ages ago, as I check his site a couple of times a week. A wonderful resource for book links and for Esposito’s own criticism.
Also there, I’ve added Dennis Cozzalio’s intriguingly named blog, Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Two weeks ago, he started on an amazing project—an encyclopedic, sharply opinionated, and a little bit obsessive take on all of Robert Altman’s feature films. He comments on each movie in chronological order, from the 1960s to the present. It’s so thorough that I considered adding it to the “Resources” blogroll on your right, as it’s useful reading for hardcore Altman acolytes, more-than-casual fans (like me), and total newbies. Don’t worry—Cozzalio doesn’t have goo-goo eyes, and occasionally slashes apart some of Altman’s weaker efforts. Here are parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Moving on, Karen Joy Fowler wrote an excellent obituary of Octavia Butler. It’s the perfect match of writer and subject. Fowler, like Butler, is a genre-blurring woman, who’s been trivialized by the East Coast mandarins for being a sci-fi writer, and by the genre’s enthusiasts for not being sci-fi enough. She understands why Butler’s writing resists easy classification, as well as the tensions that drove Butler’s work:
In the ’70s and ’80s, when much of the field was out in the clean, sterile sweep of space or jacking into the Web and leaving the body entirely, Butler’s scientific interest was in biology. Her work is all about the body—about disease, about reproduction, about the horrible realities of the food chain. Many of her stories feature graphic depictions of fluid-spilling, flesh-eating, oozing, gooey physicality. There were times as a reader when you might find yourself wishing her imagination and her prose were a little less vivid. In my opinion, she was one of the field’s scariest writers. There was nowhere she wasn’t willing to go in her imagination. There was nowhere she wasn’t willing to take you.
And finally, totally unrelated, I lead you to another lesson in living from Outer Life. I rave about Outer Life all the time, and the preponderance of my praise no doubt bugs you. But here he is, telling a hilarious and all-too-real story entirely in dialogue form. This is an adventure in suburbia that John Updike and Richard Ford wish they could write.