What I am reading – January 2008

Hit the Harvard Coop yesterday (best bookstore in Massachusetts, fiction section is out of this world) and loaded up on some January reading. Have a lot ongoing, and more in the wings, but I couldn’t pass these up.

The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky. Well, this is a blog about clamming strategies, so I had to get this from one of the best food historians (Cod, Salt, etc.) writing today.

 The Mayflower Papers, Nathaniel and Thomas Philbrick. Primary source companion to The Mayflower, spied this as I was about to buy William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation. All in keeping with my recent early Massachusetts history binge. I love primary source history — having had it shoved down my throat in college by history professors who would have it no other way. Sort of opens your eyes to a new perspective on things to hear from the first hand witnesses to events versus the commercial pap foisted on school children about the love affair between the Pilgrims and the Indians and the first Thanksgiving.

Stars and Bars, William Boyd. Contemporary English author, introduced to me by Charles Dubow. One of my favorites. Recommend a newcomer start with The New Confessions

PS: Hey Amazon, stop mucking up book covers with the fricking “Search Inside!” logo. It ruins a good thing.

There Will Be Blood

My son Eliot the film student and film blogger, was in a fever to see the lastest by his favorite living American director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Magnolia), There Will Be Blood, and having to drop his sister off at the airport in Boston yesterday, we decided to make an afternoon of it and catch a showing in Harvard Square.

I tend to over-indulge in superlatives, but this film just made it into my top five list of films, a hallowed quintet that holds room only for Ordet, Apocalypse Now, Godfather II, Barry Lyndon, and now this, the best, most swaggering, gripping account of American capitalism and rugged invididualism I’ve ever read or seen.

The cinematography, particularly during the well fire scene, is pure art.

I can’t predict commercial success for this, it is a challenging movie to watch and the title will put a lot of mainstream viewers off, but I suspect this is going to gain an audience over time like no other film in the past twenty years.

Daniel Day-Lewis is at the top of his form. Some of the closeups on his face are satanic.

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