This one’s a lot more substantive than the teaser that came out earlier this year.
I don’t know how I missed this—the teaser came out a few weeks ago—but a new Miyazaki is always promising. The Wind Rises is out in Japan in two weeks, out in the rest of the world, who knows when…but I’ve never minded watching his films sans subtitles or dubbing. Read more about The Wind Rises here; read my review of Ponyo, the last Studio Ghibli film that Miyazaki directed.
Do you still need an idea for a jack o’ lantern? Are you a fan of Hayao Miyazaki films? Even the really sweet and gentle ones, like Ponyo and My Neighbor Totoro? And, are you, like, totally skilled at carving pumpkins? If so, have at it with this cool stencil by Flickr user PlayWithFire:
A birthday gift from my daughter. I got volumes 4-6 for Valentine’s Day from my darling wife, but have held off on reading them because I didn’t have the final volume, which is this one, volume 7.
Book shelves series #4, fourth Sunday of 2012: In which we finally leave the master bedroom and check out the books in my children’s rooms.
In the previous weeks, I illustrated that my kids — a girl and a boy, 4 and 1, respectively (tack on a “half” to each of those numbers if you care to) — my kids leave books all over the house. Their books are everywhere. They are as bad as I am. I indicated at the beginning of this year-long series that the documentation would never be stable or absolute; that books float through my house, come and go like bad house guests or silly ghosts—this is probably more true of the children’s books in this house than any other kind of book.
This week, I photograph the book shelves in my kids’ rooms, starting with my daughter’s. This is her big bookshelf:
I did not photograph the big pile of books that set to the left. A close up of any of these shelves would reveal a mix of classics—stuff that my wife and I read and cherished as kids—and newer stuff as well. Here’s a shelf, sort of at random—it’s unusually well-organized:
There’s a lot of Studio Ghibli books here; most narrativize Hayao Miyazaki’s films (we’re big fans in this house). My daughter loves these. The bible was my bible; the blue-spined book is this:
You might also note a book version of Jim Henson’s creepy classic The Dark Crystal; this was mine as a kid and it disturbed the hell out of me, so I gave it to my daughter, of course:
The Studio Ghibli books combine beautiful stills of the film with narrative prose and comic book speech bubbles. From the standpoint of a fan of the films, they’re really interesting because they explicate some of the ambiguity. Our daughter loves them and asks for them (too much!):
Another shelf from another book shelf—the only shelf with books on it in this piece of furniture, actually. Not interesting, but I said I’d photograph all book shelves as part of this project:
Before my wife and I married, we lived in Tokyo for a while; we bought a bunch of these board books at a 100 yen shop. Here’s one:
Night stand: always a place of shelving instability:
The book shelf in my son’s room—lots of board books, Eric Carle, stuff like that. He likes trains and dogs:
So, I covered both of the kid’s rooms in one post in the hopes of getting to more interesting volumes in the next few weeks. On deck: the den/kitchen space, featuring cookbooks, art books, and travel volumes.
1. Just Kids, Patti Smith
Really slowed down on this one, mostly because the spring semester hath begun, wreaking all sorts of destabilizing tasks on me. Momentum and reading habits will inevitably return. Anyway, Smith’s book is more or less a litany of famous meetings and infamous moments with lots and lots of descriptions of talismanic objects. The scene where she meets Allen Ginsberg is pretty cool. Smith presents herself as earnest, passionate, but also somehow at odds (or at least outs) with the whole Chelsea Hotel scene.
2. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Vol 1, Hayao Miyazaki
Completed the first volume of Miyazaki’s groundbreaking manga and started the second. The art is well crafted and distinct, but often extremely busy and even frenetic. It sometimes feels squashed in the panels, like it needs room to breathe. I can’t help but compare it to the film that followed, which is visually richer and more expansive. The film, in a sense, helps me to fill out the scope signaled in Miyazki’s inky illustrations.
The story in the manga so far differs subtly but significantly from the film; without adding spoilers (I think fans of the film will enjoy the book), the political dimension of the plot is heightened and gender roles are explored with greater concern. Nausicaä’s initial rashness is also presented with greater intensity (read: violent consequences). More to come.
3. Imperial, William T. Vollmann
Chapter 3 of Imperial, “The Water of Life,” is some of the best gonzo journalism I’ve ever read. Vollmann (along with an improbably game ex-Marine/hotel clerk) takes a raft—a cheap rubber dinghy, really—down the infamous New River, purportedly one of the most polluted waterways in North America. This river is filled with dead birds, dead fish, probably dead humans, lots and lots of garbage, industrial runoff, and lots and lots of human shit.
Of course, Vollmann can find beauty and strangeness and ugliness all at once:
The chapter does everything one wants from the book, and if you’re at all intrigued, there’s a version in the excellent Vollmann reader Expelled from Eden, which is a good starting point for his work.
The next chapter, “Sublineations: Lovescapes,” is this awful emo exploration of a bad breakup and the following heartbreak Volls feels after. It was torturous to get through, the sort of thing that screams for an editor. It also underscores how deeply deeply deeply personal the book is to him, though. More to come.
4. A Dance with Dragons, George R. R. Martin (audiobook read by Roy Dotrice)
Well goddam if I didn’t finally finish it. As I’ve lamented elsewhere in these e-pages, Martin’s fourth and fifth books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series (I hate that name, by the way: Game of Thrones (without the indefinite article) is way cooler sounding) are bloated, sagging, overfilled beasts sorely in need of an enema. Still, Dragons picks up in its final third, and ends with some shockers that, if I remember them 12 years from now when he finally finishes the next one, I may want to read it. Roy Dotrice = a very gifted reader. A great audiobook (still, I can’t believe this one topped so many year end lists).
5. JR, William Gaddis (tandem reading with audiobook read by Nick Sullivan)
Big thanks to Dwight at A Common Reader for suggesting the audiobook of JR read by Sullivan. I’m a few hours in; I’ve also been rereading bits immediately when I get home (I listen mostly in the car or on walks), retracing the lines that I’ve mentally underlined. Sullivan is a gifted voice actor who brings the many, many voices of JR to vivid life (that line seems hackneyed but it is in no way insincere. If I weren’t riffing I’d revise. If I weren’t riffing I’d edit parenthetical excuses. I’m gonna drink more red zin now). I’m reminded in some ways of RTE’s full-cast unabridged recording—performance really—of Joyce’s Ulysses. I’d read Ulysses twice before, but I feel like the full-cast production was an equally definitive version to the one in my head. Like Ulysses—especially the Sirens episode—JR is extremely aural; it’s mostly dialogue.
I’ve laughed out loud several times so far—had no idea the book would be this funny. Also, reading/hearing it, I can’t help but see how profoundly David Foster Wallace was influenced by Gaddis here: the bizarre corporate-speak, the disjunctive rhythms, the absurd humor, the satire on modernity, the ironic-earnest axis—even the passages of naturalistic description.
On deck: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, Open City by Teju Cole, Smut by Alan Bennett and more more more.
I finally got a copy of Walton Ford’s Pancha Tantra, a bestiary depicting the savage Darwinian competition between all biological species, including humans, whose encroachment upon animal habitats is examined in this book. Ford also explores themes of colonialism in his strange, naturalist paintings. My loving wife gave me this book. I took some clumsy photos with my iPhone which in no way do justice to this big, beautiful book; forgiveness please.
My wife also gave me Hayao Miyazaki’s graphic novel Nausicaa of The Valley of the Wind. The film based on this manga plays in our house about once a week, on heavy rotation with Miyazaki’s other films, which my four year old daughter is addicted to.