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March 20, 2006

I Ain't No Houellebecq Girl

Related to my previous entry, the New Criterion has a great article on one of the more colorful characters in modern lit (I'm hoping the link lets you read it--let me know if not and I'll do a longer summary).

Fun introductory paragraph:

Novelists today tend to be pretty bloodless creatures. Look at their bios: They’re mostly workshop professors or M.F.A. hatchlings. They review their peers’ books, sit on grant panels, give readings and interviews, and, during their free time, cook up soft-boiled bores to pay their children’s tuition.

Basically, old Houellebecq has made a name for himself in French literary circles by wallowing in degeneracy and despair, and bemoaning the meaninglessness of life and death while cashing his checks and continuing to write.

Irony and I had a chuckle and some beers over that.

Unrelated aside - watched Grizzly Man this weekend, and was amazed. Not at the self-delusion and myriad mental problems of Timothy Treadwell, because duh, but at the way Herzog put the film together.

My favorite technique was the way he kept the camera rolling just a bit too long at the end of each interview, so that the subject didn't have anything rehearsed to fall back on, and was just--exposed. It was very uncomfortable in some places, but interesting to watch.

And the cast of supporting characters were awesome! The matter-of-fact pilot who found what was left of Treadwell and his girlfriend, the search and rescue guy who opined that the bears must've left him alone as long as they did because they probably thought "he was mentally retarded," and the World's Creepiest Coroner were every bit as fascinating as the subject himself.

The contrast between the folks who actually deal with the reality of nature and its place in the world and the people who can't seem to is really well drawn.

And Herzog's impromptu German doom and gloom soliloquy was great as well.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at March 20, 2006 10:36 AM

Every time this comes up I forget to mention the coroner (and his creepy eyes). There's a guy who is a bit too into his job, at least in the creative backstory way. I get the feeling he tells those corpses a lot of stories.

As for Herzog, as I've typed before, I just kept expecting him to say things like, "Treadvell slept under da stahrs. At night, I like to hang from hooks and sing about strudel."

Posted by: marc at March 20, 2006 11:09 AM


The best part of the coroner's scenes was when he's talking about the audiotape and he goes, "And then the tenor of Amy's screams changes dramatically." And you can see the gleam in his eye when he says it!

Dude, you are a huge freak. And how many times did you listen to that tape?

Posted by: BAW at March 20, 2006 01:11 PM

Herzog's commentary was great, but it took me a while to get over the accent and not feel like I was watching a comedy sketch or something. "Und jetzt, here ve are, vatching Treadvell obserfing ze bears."

Posted by: Emily at March 24, 2006 03:24 PM