Derik Badman's Journal

2022-04-16 09:51

Made an attempt at Vanity Fair, but found the narrative voice too annoying to want to live with for that long. It was that kind of extra-diagetic authorial narrator that had to comment on everything and just felt long winded to me. Made a second attempt (I could tell because the bookmark was still in, and not too far from the beginning) at Stein's The Making of Americans. I recall really enjoying the shorter works (and excerpts, I guess) in the Stein reader I have, but I could just tell I was not going to make it through 900 pages of this one.

Have now started in on George Eliot's Middlemarch which I somehow got it into my head to read. My only previous Eliot is having had to read Silas Marner (and possibly an abridged version at that) in 9th grade and loathing it (but, then, I was not much of a reader then other than fantasy novels). So far though, a few chapters, I am finding it interesting, though somewhat dense in style. Lined up Joseph McElroy's Hind's Kidnap as probably my next read.

Really enjoyed Alain Resnais' Muriel, or The Time of Return, which got on my Criterion list... somehow... The narrative is a drama over the course of a few days concerning people attempting to reconcile with their pasts in post-war France. What makes it stand out is the handling of cuts and narrative elision. While many scenes play out in a conventional way, the transitions, and at times in the middle of some scenes, often feature a fragmented, quick cutting structure, almost like a fast forward scan. In one scene one of the protagonists lights a cigar and then the film cuts to him stubbing out the smoked cigar in an ashtray. At other times, the shots quickly cut, one dialogue line at a time, between characters in different conversations, in a kind of collage. Really enjoyed it, feel like I could watch it again and get more from it.

After my failed attempt at Vanity Fair we watched the early 2000's movie adaptation from Mira Nair (with co-screenplay credit to Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes), which was entertaining and adequate as a 19th century novel adaptation, but not particular striking in any way. You could feel the gaps of adapting a large novel down to movie size, especially at the end.

The weather has been all over the place lately, cold and hot, my office was in the high 80s one day. I don't recall if I wrote how we spotted a new bunch of fox kits out back, there were at least three, seen on two separate days, though I've not seen them since. A week in and my new plants don't seem to be dying off yet.

I have accomplished little else.