If you know of a book or film that you can highly recommend to me, or to others who might chance to land upon this page, please share it in the comments section.
Below are books that I’ve read recently, and found valuable (and can recommend), as well as films that I’ve seen within the past year, and thought were exceptional:
- Religion and Its Monsters, by Timothy Beal (Routledge 2002). Insightful, and frequently stunning, cultural and literary analysis of monsters in Western Civilization, from Leviathan in the Bible to vampires in film.
- How Fiction Works, by James Wood (FSG 2008). The New Yorker literary reviewer is perhaps the sharpest “close reader” of literary fiction of his generation (he’s about 40 years old), and he does a splendid job of clearly explaining “how fiction works” (accompanied by beautiful examples from classic pieces of literature).
- Reading for the Plot, by Peter Brooks (Harvard 1984). Brooks writes exceptionally clearly (in his Freudian-driven theorizing) about fiction, and the erotic energies that draw us into, and through, a well wrought story.
- Slumdog Millionaire. Melodrama that actually works as pathos, not bathos.
- Russian Ark. The film consists of a single tracking shot, of about 90 minutes, set at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg; a staggering, dizzying cinematic achievement.