Thursday, December 12, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
A Clockwork Orange — Anthony Burgess
Anthony Burgess published in 1962. The story is set in a not-so-distant future society of England that has decayed into a culture of extreme youth violence. The novel's teenage anti-hero gives a first-person narration about his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him.
According to Burgess, the novel was a jeu d'esprit written in just three weeks.
In 2005, A Clockwork Orange was included on Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
A Clockwork Orange is written using a narrative first-person singular perspective of a seemingly biased and unreliable narrator. Our anti-hero, Alex, never attempts to justify his actions, which increases a sense of sincerity. Alex's perspective is effective in that the way that he describes events is easy to relate to, even if the situations themselves are not.
Alex uses a slang argot which Burgess invented for the book, called Nadsat. It is a mix of modified Slavic words, rhyming slang, derived Russian (like baboochka), and words invented by Burgess himself. For instance, these terms have the following meanings in Nadsat: droog = friend; korova = cow; gulliver ('golova') = head; malchick or malchickiwick = boy; soomka = sack or bag; Bog = God; khorosho ('horrorshow') = good; prestoopnick = criminal; rooka ('rooker') = hand; cal = crap; veck ('chelloveck') = man or guy; litso = face; malenky = little; and so on.
One of Alex's doctors explains the language to a colleague as "odd bits of old rhyming slang; a bit of gypsy talk, too. But most of the roots are Slav propaganda. Subliminal penetration." Some words are not derived from anything, but merely easy to guess, e.g. 'in-out, in-out' or 'the old in-out' means sexual intercourse. Cutter, however, means 'money,' because 'cutter' rhymes with 'bread-and-butter'; this is rhyming slang, which is intended to be impenetrable to outsiders (especially eavesdropping policemen). Additionally, slang like Appypolly loggy (Apology) seems to derive from school boy slang. This reflects Alex's age of 15.
In the first edition of the book, no key was provided, and the reader was left to interpret the meaning from the context. In his appendix to the restored edition, Burgess explained that the slang would keep the book from seeming dated, and served to muffle "the raw response of pornography" from the acts of violence. Furthermore, in a novel where a form of brainwashing plays a role, the narrative itself brainwashes the reader into understanding Nadsat.
The term "ultraviolence," referring to excessive and/or unjustified violence, was coined by Burgess in the book, which includes the phrase "do the ultra-violent." The term's association with aesthetic violence has led to its use in the media.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Sunday, December 8, 2013
|No Country For Old Men|
"That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect"
The author of No Country For Old Men is Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. McCarthy has written ten novels, spanning the Southern Gothic, Western, and post-apocalyptic genres. He won the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction for The Road (2006). His 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted as a 2007 film of the same name and won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. For All the Pretty Horses (1992), he won both the U.S. National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. All the Pretty Horses, The Road, and Child of God have also been adapted as motion pictures.
McCarthy's first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published by Random House in 1965. He decided to send the manuscript to Random House because "it was the only publisher [he] had heard of". At Random House, the manuscript found its way to Albert Erskine, who had been William Faulkner's editor until Faulkner's death in 1962. Erskine continued to edit McCarthy's work for the next twenty years.
In 1969, McCarthy and his wife moved to Louisville, Tennessee, and purchased a barn, which McCarthy renovated, doing the stonework himself. There he wrote his next book, Child of God, based on actual events. Child of God was published in 1973. Like Outer Dark before it, Child of God was set in southern Appalachia. In 1976, McCarthy separated from Anne DeLisle and moved to El Paso, Texas. In 1979, his novel Suttree, which he had been writing on and off for twenty years, was finally published.
McCarthy finally received widespread recognition in 1992 with the publication of All the Pretty Horses, which won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was followed by The Crossing and Cities of the Plain, completing what is called the Border Trilogy. In the midst of this trilogy came "The Stonemason", McCarthy's second dramatic work. He had previously written a film for PBS in the 1970s, The Gardener's Son. McCarthy's next book, 2005's No Country for Old Men, stayed with the western setting and themes, yet moved to a more contemporary period. McCarthy's book The Road (2006) won international acclaim and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A film adaptation (2009) was directed by John Hillcoat, written by Joe Penhall, and starred Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Also in 2006, McCarthy published the play "The Sunset Limited". The play was adapted for film by the playwright for a version directed and executive produced by Tommy Lee Jones; it began airing on HBO in February 2011. Jones also stars, opposite Samuel L. Jackson.
In 2012, McCarthy sold his original screenplay, The Counselor, to Nick Wechsler, Paula Mae Schwartz, and Steve Schwartz, who had previously produced the film adaptation of McCarthy's novel The Road. Ridley Scott directed, and the cast included Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Cameron Diaz. Production finished in 2012, and it was released on October 25, 2013.
McCarthy was born in Providence, Rhode Island, one of six children. In 1937, his family relocated to Knoxville, where his father worked as a lawyer for the Tennessee Valley Authority. McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee from 1951–52 and from 1957–59 but never graduated. While at UT he published two stories in The Phoenix and was awarded the Ingram Merrill Award for creative writing in 1959 and 1960.
McCarthy's book Suttree is written with a deep understanding of revelry and the drinking life, making it seem semi-autobiographical. While one would think that the author himself is a big drinker, McCarthy says, 'The friends I do have are simply those who quit drinking,' he says. 'If there is an occupational hazard to writing, it's drinking.'"
McCarthy now lives in the Tesuque, New Mexico area, north of Santa Fe, with his third wife, Jennifer Winkley, and their son, John. He guards his privacy. In an interview given to The New York Times, McCarthy admits he is not a fan of authors who do not "deal with issues of life and death," citing Henry James and Marcel Proust as examples. "I don't understand them," he said. "To me, that's not literature. A lot of writers who are considered good I consider strange."
Here's a tale from last week because sometimes I sort of feel like people expect me to write about them and I do like to please. Now, I'm not going to put anybody on the spot, but if you're a regular blog reader and you think I'm writing about you, or for you, or because I like you, well, you just might be right.
To my disappointment, the open mic festivities had been indefinitely canceled so I took a seat at the bar and said hello to Angie and Darcie and Janelle who were holding down the southern end. Two guys were chatting up Angie and Angie was definitely interested in the one without sideburns.
Personally, I think a man without sideburns looks funny but I like Angie and so won't carry on about it. Darcie didn't seem happy with Angie's selection, either. I don't know if it had anything to do with sideburns, or the lack thereof, but Darcie finally ended up sitting next to me later, which I appreciated because 1) Darcie is particular about who she sits next to and 2) I had entered a haze of alcohol confusion by then.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I recognized many of the same characters from my last trip. Some like to shoot pool, some like to chase girls, and some like to sit at the bar and watch television. Whatever you're doing, it's really about being around other people. That's why I was there; I was sick of sitting around the house all by my lonesome.
Attracted by the flurry of conspicuous alcohol consumption, Debbie drifted over and asked me where was hers? Ah, she had my number. A man drinking alone is a sure mark. From then on, every time I ordered a drink, Debbie was there to make sure I didn't drink alone.
I remember Angie asked who was going to drive me home. It was still hours from closing and besides, I told Angie, my truck knows the way.
Debbie saw the activity and drifted over. She had a thirsty look. I told the bartender dos mas tequilas por favor, but she whispered that Debbie couldn't have anymore for a while. Apparently, Debbie had reached some kind of quota beyond my understanding and so that was when I shifted to the seat beside Darcie and realized, for the first time, I was going to be inebriated.
That's when things start to get hazy. I don't remember Angie and Darcie and Janelle leaving. Those girls never say good-bye to me. As a matter of fact, I don't remember leaving myself. Somehow, I drove home. Oh yeah -- my truck knows the way.
I awoke half-clothed and cold in the morning atop the day bed in my office. My eyes hurt and I had a headache. I was cold because a storm had blown in during the wee hours and the day bed had only a thin blanket I keep there for the comfort of Adzo, my cat. I thanked God for taking care of me and considered the wisdom of looking for conversation at the local bar.