; movieschocolatebooks: November 2015

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Sunday, November 29

Required reading: Jesus'Son by Denis Johnson or how the drifter lives on


Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son is a labor of love. It is about how the reader ends up loving a dysfunctional, drifting man, promiscuous, abusive, with a strange sense of humor, always in search of illegal money. Denis Johnson has the boldness to ask the reader to validate such a character because there is so much love that resides at the very nature of him. If you put love into your craft, it shows in the language, the story, the people, and the cracks. In a word, beauty transcends the obvious flaws in the character's humane doings and mirrors back into the one holding the book:

This boat was pulling behind itself a tremendous triangular kite on a rope. From the kite, up in the air a hundred feet or so, a woman was suspended, belted in somehow, I would have guessed. She had long red hair. She was delicate and white, and naked except for her beautiful hair.

This is from Work, a short story where two men tear down an abandoned house, pulling at the wires, breaking the wooden walls, tired, sweaty and hungry for a quick buck. Outside the window, such vision works as a madeleine to the narrator, and later on, as Wayne admits it his house he is dismantling, they meet his former wife. It seems to be the same red-haired beauty gliding over the river but Wayne denies it so the narrator concludes he softly must have stepped into his friend's dream. One man's dreams are but another's trigger of nostalgia. All women who ever embraced, loved, hated or left him come queuing in his mind: ''Where are all my women now, with their sweet wet words and way, and the miraculous balls of hail popping a green translucence in the yards?''

The imagery of such a memory, the way it sneaks up on the narrator, soft as a summer breeze, aching like an old wound, then pours out into such vivid words, makes the world spins less in slow motion. The narrator stays on one side of it and then this snippet of life stretches way back to you, on the other side. into your very world. You have been touched.


Some writers stand poets in disguise and Denis Johnson is among them. His prose is unadorned, direct, undressed of any artifice or pretense, yet his very essence and ability to see the hidden face of things and people alike penetrate the bare accounts and glitters. His economy of words reminds one of Hemingway or Carver, Johnson’s teacher, yet there is a new layer added to every sequence, rendering it into a unique piece of poetry. These stories of the fallen reminded me of Lucia Berlin’s women who stand at the very end of society, flawed and disallowed, yet making significant human beings.

Denis Johnson called his work ‘a zoo of wild utterances’ thus pointing to the variety of human being walking the very perimeter of his mind. Such characters are bound to breathe in the very metaphor of life as it filters through the mind and heart of their maker. In Dundun, another remarkable little charm, the soy crop is depicted as ‘the failed, wilted cornstalks…laid out on the ground like rows of underthings’. In another, a country fair looks back at the world ‘with sad resignation…bare its breasts.’ It honestly makes you crave for the touch of such places, such a man, such words engulfing the very edge of your senses.

Palatul Puricilor, o carte de Elif Shafak, marturisita by NICO

Cat de ,,normal’’esti? 

Cred ca tocmai am citit o carte puzzle, prima mea carte puzzle. Sunt impresionata de felul in care m-a prins, m-a tinut langa bucatile de puzzle, m-a atras si m-a legat de ele. Elif Shafak este o scriitoare cameleon. Bastarda Istanbuluilui parca a fost scrisa de altcineva, alt stil, alta abordare. O abordare liniara, trecutul vine sa completeze prezentul, il explica…dar liniar. 

Palatal Puricilor este un mare bloc-poveste alcatuit din alte cuburi-povesti. Este o poveste a deckle-urilor, a momentelor cheie ce schimba oamenii. Palatul Bomboana, este un palat de poveste, o casa de raport, construita intr-un loc cu povesti…unele nedeslusite si misterioase, dar atragatoare si datatoare de efecte snowball, iar altele de o normalitate cutremuratoare. In ea, realul este insufletit de supraomenesc, obiectele, insectele, locurile si animalele devin personaje in lumea oamenilor. Palatul Puricilor are povesti multe, poate si daca nu s-ar fi numit asa, tot avea povesti. Am zis ca este o carte puzzle. Este cartea mai multor povesti, povesti ale oamenilor ce locuiesc in acel palat. Povesti pe care cred ca le au, de altfel, toti. Exista povesti ce se spun si povesti ce nu se spun. Toti avem o poveste pe care o stim doar noi, sau povesti pe care le spunem doar celor ce au rabdarea sa ne descopere. Locuitorii Palatului Bomboana sunt oameni normali…dar…toti par normali pana ajungi sa ii cunosti. Toti au o poveste ce i-a marcat…mai devreme sau mai tarziu in viata lor…si nu este prea tarziu sa ai o noua poveste. Povestile ce nu se spun sunt ceea ce transforma si fac oamenii unici, sunt acele povesti ce se vad in ochii care stiu sa citeasca, ceea ce privesc, povesti mute. 




Cartea este alcatuita din capitole ce descriu locatarii: apartamentele palatului de poveste. Apartamentele sunt inchiriate. Chiriasii sunt relativ singuratici, se ocolesc unii pe altii, analizand fiecare ciudatenia celorlalti…fie ca este vorba despre o tanara ce este tot timpul cocheta, dar cu o cicatrice pe fata, fie ca este vorba despreo batrana vaduva ingrijita, eleganta si mai mult decat miniona, fie ca este o doamna eleganta, dar care foarte rar paraseste apartamentul sau…fie ca este vorba despre o persoana ca tine sau ca mine, o persoana pe care o admiri sau o analizezi aleatoriu si superficial pe strada…dupa cum am spus oameni normali…

Dar ce este normal oare? Nu-i asa ca normalul este subiectiv? Nu-i asa ca normalul poate fi dat peste cap de o traire, la un moment dat? Nu-i asa ca ceea ce si tie ti se parea normal la un moment dat, devine istorie chiar si pentru tine? Normalul si obisnuitul sunt rasturnate de momente, fragmente, clipe de nebunie, sentimente de vinovatie, regret, trairi neexprimate, neintelegeri ascunse, frici… Si toate rastoarna normalul,devenind obsesiile noastre si numai ale noastre… dintre toate, sentimentul de vinovatie si dezamagirile devin praguri ale nebuniei. Normalul fiecaruia este ceea ce il deosebeste de ceilalti, dar toti incearca sa pastreze aparentele pentru a nu fi judecati, huliti, izolati, invinuiti. Exact aceste idei sunt prezentate aici- aparentele care inseala, aparentele care protejeaza si in acelasi timp indeparteaza.

Saturday, November 21

A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin or how I fall in love every day

I dream in books and live inside them for a significant part of my days, unaware at times where reality and fiction cease to draw a defining line. Such habit turns into an unexpected pleasure whenever I pick the right book. All books are lovable and worth my time, but some of them are hard to part from- A manual for cleaning women by Lucia Berlin would stand out in any remarkable pile. It is close to perfection in style, simplicity, choice of words or genuineness.

Lucia Berlin is called one of America's best kept secrets. She spent her life writing and living, never acquiring much fame, doing menial jobs that inspired her to write wonderfully. She had to face health problems and she managed to do so elegantly, drawing upon each of her experiences to recreate a snippet of life in her stories. She loved, she mothered, she read, she lived. Looking at her in the sepia-toned photos, I find her coy, dainty, simple. Still, she had so much life inside that one cannot read her work and not feel alive. So many lives are captured and rendered beautifully worthy in her pages that after reading her work, I could add that she loved people. Tremendously.






A manual for cleaning women is a collection of stories that read like John Cheever, Raymond, Carver, or Grace Paley. There is such love for small people, living dangerously or in great simplicity, depending on how you choose to see their lives. She was one of them so there is a shred of personal sensitivity in every page. She was a mother of four, divorced, alcoholic, cleaning rich people's houses herself. She knows that behind failures and addictions, there is poetry revealed in a reckless manner. You get a peak into the lives filled with of alcohol, drug use, abortions, loneliness, disease, alienation. Still, you feel close to the characters because she feels so familiar with them, so intimate in depicting their lives or her own that every little aspect seems easy and natural. At times, the stories read like a memoir, a detailed accounting of a life spent in different places, alongside wounded people. Mining towns, coin laundries, hospitals, Mexico, hotels, emergency rooms all become unsurprising locations for her stories filled with compassion, wittiness and love.






Lucia Berlin's stories carry more weight than you would expect, more spunk than one would hope for. They flow into the reader, fill in the crevasses and exult into the clear need to be read again. They get a grip on you and hold you inside with their realism, beauty and grace. They are stories meant to haunt you in good and bad times with their engrossing power. 

Tuesday, November 10

Spectre or The dancing kite

You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond.’ 

And what a kite he is if I may add!! Spectre- 007 este un Bond clasic, un Bond ce s-a intors la daddy, la ceea ce il face si l-a facut pe Bond faimos: dialog putin si bine punctat, gadgets, masinile, femeile cu care interactioneaza si atitudinea, dedicate slujbei si dorintei de a se simti bine in orice situatie, de a avea o femeie frumoasa langa el... care sa-i usureze munca periculoasa si istovitoare.

Daca te astepti la gadgeturi de ultima ora si femei frumoase si puternice care sa ii faca viata amara lui Bond, nu vei gasi asa ceva. Vei gasi, in schimb, minimum de gadgeturi folosite de dansul, costume impecabil purtate, femei delicate, dar destepte, locatii uimitor de frumoase si o poveste ce reuneste toate cele trei filme anterior facute de Daniel Craig, in seria James Bond. Acest ultim film al seriei facute de el, este un closure, inchide cercul realizat de el, incheaga si inchide povestea sa cu James Bond, amintind bad guys intalniti de acesta pana acum in Skyfall, Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale.






In acest film pot spune ca luxul este dus la extrem, iar din punctul meu de vedere, luxul maxim este cel care ajunge la simplitate ce se vede prin linii si culori si calitate extrem de inalta. Totul participa la etalarea luxului si elegantei rafinate: personajele care nu sunt multe- nu se iroseste povestea prin oameni mici, prezenti doar pentru umplutura, femeile delicate si feminine- care contrar dorintelor zilelor noastre, nu vor sa fie egale barbatului, ci vor sa il ajute, pastrandu-si feminitatea si fragilitatea, locurile desfasurarii actiunilor- absolut uimitoare si hainele. Hainele lui Bond sunt o tema in sine, o capsula de discutii si dezbateri. Hainele sunt personaje in sine. Bineinteles ca omul care le poarta conteaza, dar pana la urma, o haina buna rafineaza omul sau in acest caz il ridica mult, mult de tot. Urmarind filmul, parca am participat la o prezentare de moda Tom Ford, Burberry sau Prada. Hainele sunt wow, iar ochelarii de soare sunt fenomenali. 

Daniel Craig este un Bond rafinat si zgarcit cu cuvintele. Femeile Spectre sunt diferite, total opuse si in acelasi timp asemanatoare. Monica Belluci si Lea Seydoux sunt feminitatea intruchipata, sexoase, voluptoase, frumoase prin varsta si calitatile lor. Monica Bellucci este un icon, este un brand de la care ai asteptari, dar sa nu astepti prea mult, parerea mea de femeie…barbatii probabil m-ar contrazice, de fapt...deja am fost contrazisa dar, dincolo de varsta ei, este inca o femeie frumoasa si rafinata, cu sex-appeal si capabila sa arate bine in corset, portjartier si tocuri absolut superbe. Este inca o femeie feminina si gratioasa. Este si va ramane un icon, un punct de reper al feminitatii si calitatilor pe care o femeie ar trebui sa le aiba. 

Lea este frantuzoaica. Nu stiu exact de ce, dar acest cuvant ar explica tot ce se poate spune despre ea. Este fragila, dar nu usor de calcat in picioare, puternica prin deciziile pe care le ia, feminina si reala. Stie care este limita lui Bond, stie unde se situeaza ea si mai stie ca este zona lui de confort si de relaxare si nu se multumeste cu jumatati de masura. Ea este femeie si vrea sa ramana asa, fragila, feminina si protejata de el- barbatul.

Christoph Waltz este the bad guy, joaca bine si evil, este Inglorious Basterds return. Are ochii, alura si mimica facute si lucrate special pentru aceste personaje bad, dar atragatoare prin exprimare, voce, gestica si mimica. Este un partener pe masura lui Bond. Bond. James Bond. Este in acest caz outcast, un pedepsit, un naughty boy rasfatat de sefi, dar rasfatat pentru ca merita si pedepsit, tot pentru ca merita…sau nu. Nu voi spune subiectul, nu se cade. 

Filmul trebuie vazut. Daniel Craig aduce un omagiu clasicismului personajului, nu abuzeaza de puterile lui de spion descurcaret, doar puncteaza si imbraca haine uimitoare. Mda..m-am intors iar la haine, caci sunt fenomenale si ii vin ca turnate, Englishman-ul din el da clasa acestor haine, le da viata. Nu se poate sa nu vorbim iar despre ACELE haine. Acest film este un return to the basics, este un return to absolute elegance. Parerea mea este ca s-a vrut un classic, si singurul lucru pe care l-as reprosa este o singura secventa de urmarire care a fost facuta in Italia, in stilul Italian…lent si al lui dolce far niente…dar doar atat, pentru ca apoi a aparut costumul si am uitat.