Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wednesday Woolfian Weekley Update

(1)'s review of the Leonard bio plays on the title of the famous Edward Albee play - "He Wasn't Afraid of Virginia Woolf"

(2) See Wikipedia's entry on VW

(3) The Literature Network's info on VW

(4) Hear VW's voice via assistance from the BBC

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reading Resolution Falls to Wayside...

Ok, so my resolution to read Orlando has completely fallen to the wayside... due to my current obsession with Sarah Waters! Having finished Fingersmith over the weekend, I bought Affinity (her first novel) yesterday. I've only read the first few pages but I'm already hooked... a women's Panopticon prison in the 1870s, seances, creepy gothic characters... what more could a geeky English person want?
Wednesday Woolfian Weekley Update

(1) "Begged, borrowed and stolen"
A look at the most popularily co-opted artists of the 20th century....

(2) Speaking of Co-opting Woolf...
Rachael Cusk's novel Arlington Park is another alleged contemporary re-telling of Mrs. Dalloway...

(3) More People Discussing the Leonard Biography...
A review at as well as in the Toronto Star.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cheer Up, Hamlet!

I had the pleasure this week of being introduced to the Sundance Channel's television series Slings and Arrows. Taking the "play within a play" concept to a delightfully fun place, specifically, New Burbage, Canada. So what do you do when the director of Hamlet- Oliver Welles- at a well-respected theatre company dies? If you're the governing board of New Burbage, you hire his former protege- Geoffrey Tennant (played by Paul Gross and shown above)- who despises the aforementioned deceased director for having driven him insane on a production of Hamlet ten years earlier... and who may not have ever regained said sanity... seeing as how he's being haunted by his old mentor... Though the setup sounds hokey when briefly summarized, the delivery is marvelous! And very rewarding if you're an English/Theatre/Shakespeare geek who longs for some intelligent literary-related television every once in a while.

Plus, the opening credits features two old theatre gents in a pub singin' a rousing song entitled "Cheer up, Hamlet!" while taking swigs from their pints and hammering on the piano... it's that kind of fun!
Wednesday Woolfian Weekley Update

Ok... slightly late again... but I'm still on vacation for a few more days...

(1) Letter to the Reader
Writer, Erendiz Atasu, credits Woolf as being one of three people who influenced her heart and mind. Read a review of her book The Other Side of the Mountain.

(2) Tehran
Woolf was recently remembered in Tehran for being "one of the foremost modernist literary figures of the 20th century" and for her continuing influence on contemporary writers (ISNA).

(3) "Knickers to Virginia Woolf"
The Independent looks ahead at what publishers will be releasing in Britain this spring. One gem concerns Woolf:
Finally, every year seems to bring at least one new study of Virginia Woolf, but Alison Light's book promises to be something special. Anyone dipping into Woolf's diaries will have sniggered over her struggles with domestic staff. Mrs Woolf and the Servants (Fig Tree, July) sheds light on these fraught and fascinating relationships. Not only did Virginia "wear underwear throughout", someone also had to wash it.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Parodying Video Games ~ Always Fun!

If you are a child of the 1980s (or were a child at heart during the 1980s), you may have played a few rounds on the original 8 bit Nintendo (don't ask me what a bit is... I have no idea... but I know they exist... because I've been told... and 8 is rather small by today's standards since PlayStation 3 is running on a trillion or something, right?).

If you have fond memories of getting smashed by Donkey Kong, defending the Princess Zelda by being an elf with a sword larger than your elvish physique, and guiding fat Italian plumbers through psychedelic backdrops and helping them grow large after eating mushrooms that had faces and grow small when.... ummm, I believe I wandered into a Jefferson Airplane song somewhere along the way (look at Jefferson Airplane on the right, aren't they pretty?)....

Then, you will most likely appreciate the animated shorts that can be found at Press Start: Bonus Levels (and on YouTube) that spoof the 8 bit original characters. And even if you aren't a 1980s Nintendo Alumni, if you appreciated the humor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (may the show rest in peace and may the dvds live on forever), then you should enjoy the antics of the schlocky evil villains who gather together to play a game similar to Pokemon and the ninjas with dubious morals and courage as well as the timid intern to Count Vile, Johnson.

Below are my two favorites- "Pac-Manic Depression" and "Symphony of the Trite."

Press Start: Bonus Levels -- "Pac-Manic Depression"

"Pac-Manic Depression" re-interprets the familar icon, Pac-Man, and features Count Vile's delightful intern, Johnson.

Press Start: Bonus Levels -- "Symphony of the Trite"

There are quite a few more... so, go, enjoy them! And when the independent film comes out that they are promoting, rent it! (Ok, so that plug was a little obvious... but you have to admit that the shorts are really funny!)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday Woolfian Weekley Update

(1) Creative Biography
New in paperback (write up from The News & Observer):
"Virginia Woolf: An Inner Life," by Julia Briggs (Harvest/Harcourt). Avoiding the gossip surrounding Virginia Woolf's social life, this intelligent biography focuses on Woolf's creative process -- her fascination with the workings of the inner mind and her ability to translate thought and feeling into words. Briggs, a professor of English in Leicester, England, devotes each of 14 chapters to one of Woolf's books, beginning with "The Voyage Out" (1915), and concluding with "Between the Acts," published posthumously in 1941.

(2) New Novel Starring the Bloomsbury Group!
The Independent Online did a write up of this newly published book:
But Nobody Lives in Bloomsbury, by Gillian Freeman (ARCADIA BOOKS £11.99)

Gillian Freeman has a very interesting past. Author of the gay classic The Leather Boys (under the pseudonym Eliot George), she's won acclaim in recent years for her portrait of Jewish life in the novel His Mistress's Voice. Now she has turned her mind to recreating the world of the Bloomsbury group, and the result makes for compelling reading.

The group's principal members, from Lytton Stratchey to Bertrand Russell, are carefully introduced; but the narrative hinges on the lives of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Virginia's highly sensitive nature is made immediately clear, as is one of the most commonly held reasons for the nervous breakdowns she suffered in her life. On the afternoon of her mother's funeral, her half-brother, George Duckworth, offers to comfort her but ends up sexually molesting her instead. Freeman is particularly successful in capturing Virginia's urge to challenge the status quo: "Of course you will go to heaven," her Aunt Adeline tells her. "There isn't such a place," Virginia replies. "When you die, you die."

Vanessa Bell comes across as particularly likeable, her open marriage to Clive Bell offering a less fraught counterpoint to Virginia's struggles. Some might argue that creating fiction from the lives of the Bloomsbury group would barely tax the most limited of writers; but bringing such overpowering characters to life on the page without merely reiterating the caricatures that they have become is something of which Freeman should be very proud.

(3) Interview with Gillian Freeman (author of novel mentioned in #2)
Click here to read the interview done by Hampstead and Highgate Express.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Some Good Old Fashioned English Storytelling

My winter break resolution was to read Orlando... and I still have three weeks left of winter break so that could very well happen... but it isn't happening right now.

Right now, I'm enthralled with Sarah Waters' Fingersmith. This is the first book of hers that I've read (although I've already watched the BBC mini-series versions of Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet thanks to Netflix) and I'm hooked. What I am enjoying the most about the novel so far is the complex structure that is delivered with ease. Having seen the mini-series, I am confident that I know the "big" surprises (not to say that adaptations do not deviate from their sources), but knowing the surprises does not ruin the book. Actually knowing the twists makes watching how Waters plants the clues all the more fun.... and right now, that's what a book needs to be- fun!

So, if you're in the mood for a book set in Victorian England where an allegedly simple con to marry an heiress and then throw her in the looney bin gets slightly complicated by ulterior motives, murder, romance, and intrigue... I'd say you should give Fingersmith a whirl... though it's 500-some pages, it's flying by really fast!

Monday, December 25, 2006