Friday, August 15, 2008

Always Merry And Bright

Slightly disappointed mood.

The pseudo-Dylan movie "I'm Not There" seemed to fall between two stools. It didn't grab the non-Dylan fan in my no conversions...and for someone like me it missed the point (about my personal vision of Dylan, at least) by acting so glum. Even the much-touted Cate Blanchett performance only managed world-weary punk existentialist - and utterly missed the wit, the venomous sarcasm, the furious energy and self-confidence - oh and the humanity and sensitivity. I'd recommend watching Don't Look Back (1967) if you want to see that period in something like a true light. And if (as this movie attempted) you want a phantasmagoric movie - capturing something of the atmosphere of some of Bob's songs, rather than mere 'reality' I'd go to Bob himself, and enjoy Masked and Anonymous (2003), or even the much-maligned Renaldo and Clara (1978). And for real fans, try Martin Scorcese's No Direction Home.

More vague disappointment

I came across John Fante in the library and happened to know that Charles Bukowski rated him highly.

I can see what he means in terms of vividness, painful honesty, etc – in fact if I didn’t know I would have thought Bukowski wrote it - but (just like with Bukowski) I eventually get tired of the unrelenting ugliness and grimness. And that isn’t because I haven’t lived in poverty (I have, more than once).

For instance – in Ask The Dust the Mexican girl is portrayed as smoking dope as though it’s heroin or cocaine (OK, written in 1939 by a self-tormenting ex-Catholic), they score in what sounds more like an opium den than anything Louis Armstrong, Carl Sagan or Bob Marley would have recognised. She then duly goes mad (as in Reefer Madness) and so on.

Very disappointing.

But, as I say, for all the vividness of the writing I always found Bukowski too glum and angry. I prefer the sheer reckless glee of Henry Miller. But then again, he escaped from the puritanism of the USA, unlike Fante the proud American, and expressed hatred for much of American Life, even though he retired there eventually.

I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.
Henry Miller

Starving writers writing about writing and writers goes back a long way, from Knut Hamsun to Miller, from Fante, Bukowski and Kerouac, etc.

And now I plan to publish something that deserves more work, but represents what happens when you sit down to speed write a book – so I guess I should shut up.

Although, the Unwritten Books Project sounds fun.

A Reader's Guide to the Unwritten amused my, too - in a Guardian blog.

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