“A quarter of the U.S. population — and 40 percent of the population of New York, where my novel is set — self-identify as Catholic. One of the most striking features of the city is that there are churches everywhere, from one of the world’s largest cathedrals to hundreds of storefront churches. And a bit of investigation will reveal that those churches fill up every Sunday. Not to mention the fact that there are more Jews in New York than in any other city in the world. But for some reason the publishing industry in this city tends to view the introduction of religion into contemporary realist novels as a willful act that must have some strong rhetorical justification. From where I stand, the exclusion of religion is the willful act. Novelists never get asked why they don’t include religion in their books, or why the religion they do include — often just a species of madness — bears so little resemblance to religion as it is practiced by the majority of Americans. If they were asked, I suspect, most of these writers would not have a very good answer. It simply doesn’t occur to them. Whatever one’s beliefs, this seems like a basic failure of verisimilitude. Reality includes religion; realism should, too.”—
This is the appreciation (obits are for suckers) that I think I most agree with (although my appreciation for James Garner and The Rockford Files is at least a further decade removed from Alan Sepinwall’s own).
But damn me, James Garner just was that good as Rockford, holy hell, he really was. And that theme song—I really don’t think of anything other than James Garner when I think of it. Perfect all around.
“My best Beloved keeps his throne
On hills of light, in worlds unknown;
But he descends and shows his face
In the young gardens of his grace.”—Isaac Watts, from a little-known hymn that (Watts says) paraphrases Song of Songs 6. A stunning poetic sentence. (via ayjay)
#27, The Ghost of Blackwood Abbey
Nancy decides to leave secular life and become a nun. It turns out the only ghost haunting Blackwood Abbey is the Holy Ghost! But one of the nuns is stealing from the abbey, which explains the missing candelabras.
“God raised his love for human beings above every reproach of falsehood and doubt and uncertainty by himself entering into the life of human beings as a human being, by bodily taking upon himself and bearing the nature, essence, guilt, and sufferings of human beings. Out of love of human beings, God becomes a human being. He does not seek out the most perfect human being in order to unite with that person. Rather, he takes on human nature as is. This is about the birth of a child, not the astonishing work of a strong man, not the bold discovery of a wise man, not the pious work of a saint. It really is beyond all our understanding: the birth of a child shall bring about the great change, shall bring to all mankind salvation and deliverance.”—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (via nickdivers)
This is a good brief look at Ross Macdonald and his importance (not to mention quality) with regard to hardboiled detective fiction, but I found the brief aside to Raymond Chandler a bit snotty and a lot of misunderstanding.
Speaking of snotty, “MacDonald” is capitalized incorrectly! My idiotic pedantry at work!
Anyway, Ross Macdonald is fantastic, as important and assured as Dashiell Hammett and Chandler as far as I’m concerned. Plus he had some fantastic titles like The Way Some People Die. I mean, come on.
I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled across this just now and I haven’t seen it in over twenty years (and am not even sure how I did then), but the end of Unico in the Island of Magic still haunts and creeps the hell out of me for some reason.
So here’s the whole damn thing for no good reason. Not embedded, (1) because it won’t let me and (2) because come on.
Also (factoid ahead), one or the other of the Unico movies was almost always an answer when the A.V. Club used to have their “Ask the A.V. Club” feature. It’s sorely missed, but as I recall, there are only so many times you can say, “It’s Ray Bradbury” or “It’s Unico.” Because it was always one of those.
Dan Brown is, well, Dan Brown (whatever that may mean or entail to one’s individual sensibilities), and this interview is, well, what it is (whatever that may mean or entail to one’s individual sensibilities), but one reading experience he recounts pretty much coincides with my own:
Do you have a favorite childhood literary character or hero?
Frank and Joe Hardy were responsible for my first experience in “binge reading.” I remember devouring the entire Hardy Boys series over one summer, enthralled by their bravery and cleverness.
All right, all right, it doesn’t exactly coincide with my own, but I will give props to anyone who admits their appreciation for the Hardy Boys (or their female counterpart, Nancy Drew) and proceeds to compliment them as well. With regard to certain characters, the idea of “not only do I love them, but they are also awesome" gets you a lot of places in my book.
Emily, it’s been an awfully long time since you came out
can I please come in? not — Now –
When can I come in? After a hundred years
will you give me a real amount of time, please? After all Birds have been investigated and laid aside
do you have birds in there? After the Sun comes out
answer the question At Half past Three
how many birds are in there A single Bird
this is why people don’t visit us
the bird thing Back from the cordial Grave I dragged him
is the bird still alive, Emily? do you know what the Best witchcraft is?
just tell me if the bird is still alive COCOONS ABOVE COCOONS BELOW
I’m coming in COCOONS