Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Book: Mariana

by Katherine Vaz (2004).

I love you. I love you still. I love you always. I esteem every joy and every sorrow that your love bestows upon me.

Katherine Vaz is a favorite, and her writing never fails to make me cry. The depth of my love for her work is such that I can't even write about why I feel it. She weaves together grand ideas and tiny everyday details, creates ritual out of every movement, and always touches something unnameable inside me.

This was the first novel of hers I've read. Her short stories are so well-crafted they open out like full-length works in my mind. Here, Vaz has much more going on, and for the most part she manages it well. The book lagged a bit in the middle, but picked back up and packed quite a punch at the end.

I also loved the authors note at the end, about Vaz's research and her belief that Mariana herself wrote the famous letters. I had never heard of Mariana Alcoforado before, but if time allows in the future, I would love to learn more about her and monastic life in Portugal.

Spark has an interesting interview with Vaz.

Margin profiles Vaz (including links to excerpts from her writing).

Google Books presents a full copy of The Letters of a Portuguese Nun, translated by Edgar Prestage.

Myriam Cyr has written a non-fiction book arguing that Mariana did indeed write the famous letters.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Book: Transcreation of the Bhagavad Gita

by Ashok Kumar Malhorta (1999).

Read as part of my current inquiries into spirituality. This is the version I read freshman year of college--I really didn't understand it then, but I did take some pretty good notes. It's better now that I read it as scripture, and not as literature as our professor had us do. I appreciate that there are clear directions here, and not all of the vagueness that leads to conflicting interpretation. It would be hard to imagine a fundamentalism springing forth from the Gita. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I do think it would be less likely to occur.

And I'm glad this little paperback is sturdy, as I suspect it's going to get quite the workout in the next few weeks, as I continue to study it using Ram Dass's book Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Graphic Novel: Runaways vol. 3: The Good Die Young

by Brian K. Vaughan et al (2004).

My landlord bought me both fullsize hardback volumes of Runaways, which is the coolest thing ever, because they are not cheap and I never would have gotten them myself.

So I read the last third of the first series, and it was awesome. I always feel like the completion of a story is never as exciting as the beginning of one, so you have to judge them by different standards (unless we're talking about the movie Serenity--it's the only exception to the rule I can think of). That's the case here--the final third wasn't quite as exciting as the opening, but there were some fantastic moments. I am totally in love with Chase, like I want one of my own. I didn't the twist coming, until I did, but even then it was still fun.

Also, the art looks way better on a full page, with room to breathe. I can't wait to break into my other hardback volume.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book: New Seeds of Contemplation

by Thomas Merton

Didn't get to finish this before I had to return it to the library. But I love Merton. Someday when I have the time, I'll devote myself to reading more of his work.

The Spirit of Things and Speaking of Faith both have terrific podcasts that deal, in part, with Merton.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book: Him Her Him Again The End of Him

by Patricia Marx (2007).

Read my review over at venuszine.com.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Film: Smokin' Aces

This honestly might go down in history as one of my favorite action movies. I love pulp, I love over-the-top violence, I love irony, I love mohawked rednecks in skinny jeans and wifebeaters. I especially love tenderly and oddly sexy murder scenes between two men.

And yet, the best thing about this movie was how it took all that and blended it together with a whole shitload of other totally weird and random stuff, and then still managed to have moments that were completely fucking heartbreaking. Ryan Reynolds broke my heart. Jeremy Piven broke my heart and grossed me out all at the same time. Alicia Keyes and Common and Taraji P. Henson broke my heart.

Smokin' Aces
dir. by Joe Carnahan, 2007

Graphic Novel: Runaways vol.2: Teenage Wasteland

by Brian K. Vaughan et al (2004).

I tore through the middle section of this trilogy, giggling loudly from pure fucking glee. I love love love the dialogue here. The vampire plot struck me as a little silly, but ultimately yielded some good moments ("Whedon got it wrong!"). But, in true comic book geek fashion, I got unnecessarily excited when Cloak and Dagger showed up. I'm starting to jump on the bandwagon of superhero-trainspotting. It's fun!

Anyway, I consider myself now totally hooked on this series, and I'll probably go ahead and invest in the big hardbacks at some point. If I could catch up fast enough, I'd love to start reading monthly, especially now that Joss Whedon is taking over writing duties.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Recipe for a perfect Sunday:

  • one best friend
  • an endless stream of YouTube videos (Ryan Hansen's appearance on That's So Raven is a must)
  • Two Shots for Poe
  • several episodes of Smallville
  • two Publix salads
  • a six-pack of Valentine's Day cupcakes, chocolate with bright pink frosting
  • very loud laughter
  • Graphic Novel: Runaways vol. 1: Pride & Joy

    by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (2003).

    The love for Mr. Vaughan continues. I don't usually read Marvel books. I don't usually even read superhero books. But I cracked this one open on several recommendations and now I am hooked. The dialogue is fun; it reminds me of some of my favorite tv writing (think Buffy and Veronica Mars). The characters are awesome--a perfect cross-section of teenage cool and comics geeky (which still somehow loops back around to cool).

    Plus, in my head, Chase is played by my tv crush du jour, Chris Lowell.

    Graphic Novel: Y, The Last Man vol. 6: Girl on Girl

    by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra (2005).

    I wish desparately that I could catch all the way up on this series, but I never have the money to pick up these trades. This one was a surprise present from my landlord. Just two more to go, and by the time I get to those, they'll have released another.

    Anyway, this arc felt very filmic, and I really enjoyed that. I responded outloud and in my body to what was happening--you know that means something's pretty freaking good. That said, I felt a bit like this story was more of a set piece, an interlude between bigger plot points. And that's fine. Girl pirates are hot; they could have done much worse. But my favorite part of this arc was the final issue, when we see Beth in Australia and all the PTSD crap she's going through. Yorick needs to find that poor girl already.