The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend

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Tim Maughan on the influence of  the Jean Giraud on science fiction for Tor.com:

[The] combination of neon-lit noir streets, cramped towering city blocks, airborne traffic jams and scruffy characters seems almost a cliche today. But this was the first time anything like this had been drawn; and the first time science fiction had embraced the visual chaos of realistic urban environments. And the groundbreaking work is not just there in the architecture and mechanical designs; it’s apparent in the fashions and clothes of the city’s inhabitants. Although fantastic, exaggerated and other-worldy the city of The Long Tomorrow comes alive from the page because it feels so real, so layered and built — it is the urban paradise and nightmare of every industrial city from Tokyo to London.

The Catharsis of Exhaustion – Tim Parks on when to finish a book for the NYRB:

Other writers deploy what I would call a catharsis of exhaustion: their books present themselves as rich and extremely taxing experiences that simply come to an end at some point where writer, reader and indeed characters, all feel they’ve had enough… [These] writers it seems to me, by suggesting that beyond a certain point a book might end anywhere, legitimize the notion that the reader may choose for him or herself, without detracting anything from the experience, where to bow out.

Detachment – Edward St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose Novels and At Last, profiled in the New York Times:

 “[There] is something morally condescending about forgiveness… Detachment is what interests me, seeing how people couldn’t have been any other way, how they were the product of forces that they had no control over… I was in the downstream of my father’s unhappiness, but it must have been hell to be him.”

And finally…

The Beat Hotel — A new documentary about the cheap no-name hotel at 9 rue Git le Coeur in Paris that harboured the likes of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs:


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One Comment

  1. Dan,
    I didn’t know about Giraud’s passing until I came to your site. Good roundup of obituaries; I’m usually not sentimental about this sort of thing (i.e., the passing of the famous), but this is one who’ll be sorely missed.

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