Sunday, September 04, 2005


Ang Lee on why he wanted to make "Brokeback Mountain":

"When I first read the story, it gripped me. It's a great American love story, told in a way that felt as if it had never been done before. I had tears in my eyes at the end. You remember? You see the shirts put away in the closet side by side."

Who could forget? When Annie Proulx's short story about two cowboys in love appeared in The New Yorker nearly eight years ago, it was so startling and powerful that for many people, the experience of reading it remains a vivid, almost physical memory. As for those shirts, the image is unique and indelible: hidden years earlier in the back of a closet, they hang from a single nail, the outer, denim one, bloodied by an old blow, the second, a torn and dirty plaid, carefully tucked inside the first, its sleeves worked down into the other's sleeves, the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one. It's an emblem of love so plain and homely that it could only be true.

"Brokeback Mountain" is set to be released in December.

Today, someone's taste for the "classics" can cover up no discernable individual or original taste of their own. Classic trumpeting can be a refuge for philistinism or nationalistic indolence. Unlike the word masterpiece, the classic category only pretends to be an aesthetic valuation.

--Alan Warner, "The Curse of the Classics"

There is nothing less revealing than reading someone's top ten books list when the list contains nothing but classics.

"Journalism isn't something I've learned. . . .It's a natural inclination. I grew up without brothers and sisters, I was not automatically part of a group, so I became very curious about the way things work, how people interact. I watch and learn."

--Lyle Lovett, "Lyle Lovett's J-School Days"

Make mine a cheeseburger.

Goethe's Faust reminds us forever that the devil is personal, not impersonal. That the devil is putting every individual to the test, which every one of us can pass or fail. That evil is tempting and seducing. That aggression has a potential foothold inside every one of us.

--Amos Oz, "The Devil's Progress"

Empathy is what we long for - not sadness for a house we own, or owned once, now swept away. Not even for the felt miracle of two wide-eyed children whirled upward into a helicopter as if into clouds. We want more than that, even at this painful long distance: we want to project our feeling parts straight into the life of a woman standing waist-deep in a glistening toxic current with a whole city's possessions all floating about, her own belongings in a white plastic bag, and who has no particular reason for hope, and so is just staring up. We would all give her hope. Comfort. A part of ourselves. Perform an act of renewal. It's hard to make sense of this, we say. But it makes sense. Making sense just doesn't help.

--Richard Ford, "Elegy for My City"

While circling the world in the HMS Beagle, naturalist Charles Darwin reaches the Galápagos Islands in September 1835. Amazed that "islands formed of precisely the same rocks, placed under a quite similar climate, rising to a nearly equal height [could be so] differently tenanted," Darwin on his return to England spends 23 years formulating an explanation for this and other observations. He publishes his theory of "natural selection" in On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin dies in 1882, age 73.

--Alison McLean, "This Month in History"

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"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.