April 24, 2005
Saramago Nobel Lecture

From José Saramago's Nobel Lecture:

At the time I thought, though my grandmother was also a very wise woman, she couldn't rise to the heights grandfather could, a man who, lying under a fig tree, having at his side José his grandson, could set the universe in motion just with a couple of words. It was only many years after, when my grandfather had departed from this world and I was a grown man, I finally came to realise that my grandmother, after all, also believed in dreams. There could have been no other reason why, sitting one evening at the door of her cottage where she now lived alone, staring at the biggest and smallest stars overhead, she said these words: "The world is so beautiful and it is such a pity that I have to die". She didn't say she was afraid of dying, but that it was a pity to die, as if her hard life of unrelenting work was, in that almost final moment, receiving the grace of a supreme and last farewell, the consolation of beauty revealed. She was sitting at the door of a house like none other I can imagine in all the world, because in it lived people who could sleep with piglets as if they were their own children, people who were sorry to leave life just because the world was beautiful; and this Jerónimo, my grandfather, swineherd and story-teller, feeling death about to arrive and take him, went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying because he knew he wouldn't see them again.


Posted by Bill Stilwell at 09:49 PM
April 22, 2005
Stardust - Needs a third act?

So, I'm thinking the upcoming film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust is going to suck:

A few months ago, it was announced that Vaughn would also produce and direct an adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' graphic novel Stardust sometime after he finishes X-Men 3. "I've written the treatment, but I'm not a writer, so I'm just trying to find the right writer," he updated us. "Obviously, to make it into a movie, I have to change it a bit, and put a new third act on. It's going to be cool, sort of like 'Princess Bride' meets 'Midnight Run'." Vaughn mentioned that he has some limited edition art that Charles Vess sent him, but that his movie would look somewhat different. "The way he paints is very Victorian in a way, but I want it to have more of a modern look. I think the problem is that when people say 'we're going to do a fairy tale, so therefore, let's shoot it in a fairytale way.' I wanted to shoot it more modern and grittier."

Oh, and dude, this just makes you sound like an idiot:

"I like comic books, but I don't read them like I used to," he told us. "I quite like graphic novels more than comic books."
Posted by Bill Stilwell at 07:29 AM
April 17, 2005
Reading: A Report

Only 2 completed books in the past three weeks. This is mostly because I'm doing my typical thing of reading multiple books at once, and when two of those books are Collapse and System of the World, I spend a lot of time reading without finishing, it seems. So anyway:

  • The Outlaw Sea, by William Langewiesche. If you're feeling like you don't have enough free-floating anxiety about ways terrorists could bring about physical and economic devastation, this book is for you. What I took from this book is: the ocean, and the ships on it, are basically unregulated due to flags of convenience; most containers enter countries without being inspected; piracy is a major problem; never, ever take an Estonian ferry; and ship decommisioning is an environmental disaster. A lot of the book originated in articles for The Atlantic, which results in a bit of a disjointed feel - there's little to connect the various sections except that they all relate to water-based commerce/travel.
  • Grits, by Niall Griffiths. Griffiths first novel, and the reason he gets called the Welsh Irvine Welsh. There's a fair amount of Trainspotting in this book, on the surface - a group of outsiders telling their experiences of various types of addiction in dialect, with no shortage of sex, violence and profanity. Beneath the surface, though, I think Griffiths is working different ground - he's fascinated by how these characters, already on edge of society, conduct themselves in a place that is on the edge geographically as well. As he puts in an interview:
    I'm fascinated in the ways landscapes work on a people, on their social and linguistic habits etc. We are an ancient people in an ancient landscape of lakes and of mountains; a liminal race in a liminal place, and mad, fascinating and seemingly irrational things happen in these breaches between worlds. This question is central to my writing and I'll continue to address it until I die.
    As I've found with other authors that use dialect (Welsh, James Kelman), it was a bit of a struggle to read this book at the start, but eventually the language forms its own world and you can really hear the characters voices.
Posted by Bill Stilwell at 05:40 PM