Books, Thoughts

Strands & Piecework

I have a ton of half-completed blog posts that I need to finish & put up. Even this post was just supposed to be filler but ended up growing & growing. So, this might be a little all over the place. I just need to get something up & feel like I’ve accomplished something.

In celebration of finishing the Flannery Essay, I’ve recently read The Violent Bear It Away.  I enjoyed it, but I have difficulty trusting my first instincts when reading O’Connor’s work.

Mainly because Ms. O’Connor is one of those writers where you have to live in her world for a while before the full significance of her words sink in.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been fully immersed in her world, so I feel, “Ok, what am I missing?  Why doesn’t this feel like it’s connecting?”  Also, oh my stars, she is so much more well-versed in the Bible than I am, so I feel like a dummy.

I’ve been listening to Seven Swans pretty constantly as well.  I’ve always thought that album was pretty influenced by O’Connor’s writing, outside the obvious reference.  (One of the songs is called “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”)  I’m also trying to teach myself “He Woke Me Up Again.”  It’s been slow; the song was originally written for banjo so my brain is having to work.

Watched Brief Interviews with Hideous Men with a few friends the other night.  I thought it was a decent adaptation of the book, where the emphasis seemed to be more on catching the spirit of the writing, not obsessively translating every page.  John Krasinski effectively captures the layered feel that is a trademark of David Foster Wallace’s writing.  The smaller stories within the larger frame are edited together in a powerful sequence.  Here’s one of the best scenes.

The overlapping interviews actually reminded me of the locker room sequences in Infinite Jest, where the pages just seem to be random samples of guy talk.  But the longer the dialogue goes on, the more you’re forced to focus on the tensions between who’s talking & who isn’t.  I keep wondering if the character Orin just wouldn’t go away, which ended up inspiring Brief Interviews (the book).

Another thing Krasinski gets right is not trying to resolve the main story that frames the interviews.  In my experiences of DFW’s works, the main story is an ambiguity & the smaller stories within hold keys of insight or motive.  Focusing on those is much more important than what you think is the main story.  The structure of the film feels closer to a play, the way characters double up on roles & rise & fall through the story.  Although, if Brief Interviews was done as a play, some of the editing choices that strengthen the film would be lost.

Anyway, I would urge you to rent Brief Interviews.  & I’ll be back with more blab in a few days.