urban literary-knot

Jeunesse dorée September 1, 2009

Gilded Youth

 

Kate Cambor’s first book opens in 1914, the year France lurched from the opulence of the Gilded Age into the clamor of the modern world. Gone were the days when debutantes danced until dawn at mountainside resorts and literary giants like Victor Hugo and Alphonse Daudet presided over exclusive Paris salons. Ushered in was an era of war and disorientation. “The new generation of writers and politicians . . . were engaged in a battle of epic and Oedipal proportions,” Cambor writes. “At stake was nothing less than the heart and soul of Mother France.”

This new age is seen through the eyes of three young Parisians: Léon Daudet was the son of novelist Alphonse Daudet, Jeanne Hugo the granddaughter of Victor Hugo, and Jean-Baptiste Charcot the son of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. Each was born at the height of Third Republic society, “poised, more than most, to take advantage of the promises of the dawning century.” Instead, the three friends fell victim to a string of personal and political crises. As Cambor notes, the problem was primarily one of momentum — the “faith in science and progress” that defined the Gilded Age was eroded by the arrival of mechanized combat, psychoanalytic theory and a dizzying rush of experimental art. Born to one era, Charcot, Daudet and Hugo struggled, and failed, to adjust to the mores of the next.

Matthew Shaer

 

De Minnaar Van China March 1, 2009

The China Lover

 

“By the end of the three different memoirs that make up The China Lover, Shirley Yamaguchi, aka Li Xianglan, aka Ri Koran, appears to be unknowable after all — and that is just right. Our heroine is far less interesting as a person than as a personification. She is, as one of her admirers describes her, “a typical portable shrine”; and revealing how it is made has never been the point of a portable shrine. In a rare departure from his books and critical essays on film, politics, culture and current events, Buruma, a distinguished journalist-scholar and Japanophile, has crafted in The China Lover a fascinating fictional biography — not only of an iconic film star, but of film as an expression of a nation’s culture and psyche. How fitting that he has put into practice at least two of the techniques of Japanese movie-making he mentions: “keeping a distance even in scenes of great emotion” and leaving things “open-ended, like life.”     -The Washington Post

 

In Memory… February 1, 2009

The Centaur

 

“… darkness presses down early from the mountain… I must go to Nature disarmed of perspective and stretch myself like a large transparent canvas upon her in the hope that, my submission being perfect, the imprint of a beautiful and useful truth would be taken.”    -The Centaur

 

It’s almost over… November 1, 2008

 

 

… and we’ve all been feeling the pain for far too long:

“George W. Bush isn’t just a nuisance, he’s a problem that afflicts nearly three out of four Americans. So if you or someone you love has a Bush problem, know this: You don’t have to face it alone. Help is within reach. With The 12-Step Bush Recovery Program, you can share in the promise of a better you, a better America, a better world, and a better solar system.”

Make sure you get your butts out there next week and vote- dammit!

 

Gothic Novella to Creep October October 3, 2008

“Boo!” 

 

ULK On Summer Break June 4, 2008

ULK will be on Summer Break- in need of attending to other endeavors, vacation, planting, writing… all that good stuff!

Be back in early to mid Fall– enjoy your Summer!

-cheers

 

Transplanting in Fertile Soil April 11, 2008

This month’s reading has gotten a late start (no surprise there!) but the wait is well worth it when wrapping around Jhumpa Lahiri’s new novel Unaccustomed Earth.  I think this is what happens as a writer when you don’t try to force yourself to crank out endless mundane or mediocre work just to satisfy the public, or put pressure upon oneself for the endless reasons.  Ms Lahiri constantly amazes me with her creative imaginary flare and such a gift to bring rich characters to the written page.

The LATimes and NewsWeek give your mind a nibble before we meet.

-ciao