A slightly edited version of this article entitled “Devotional Reading” appeared in the November-December 2012 issue of Film Comment. For whatever it’s worth, I find Geoff Dyer’s taped interview about Stalker on Criterion’s forthcoming Blu-Ray (to be released on July 18) more perceptive than anything in this book. I guess he’s had more time to think about it by now. — J.R.
There are at least two intriguing recent trends reflected in the publications of Geoff Dyer’s Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room (New York: Pantheon, 2012) and Adam Mars-Jones’s Noriko Smiling (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011) — book-length studies of masterpieces (Stalker and Late Spring, respectively) and film criticism by amateurs (both of them prestigious literary Brits). A couple of much older attitudes underlying both is a view of cinema as literature by another means and, conversely, a view of film analysis as a literary and linear pursuit.
It’s obvious that what links these two trends historically is the phenomenon of home viewing, which has made every viewer a potential “expert” for the first time. Prior to VCRs and DVD and Blu-Ray players, the only tools available for studying films at length were 16 mm projectors and moviolas, most often belonging only to “professionals” of one kind or another.… Read more »
I no longer know when I wrote this story, although it was obviously written before I wrote digitally, because the typescript I recently came across, which I’ve revised here only slightly, clearly came from a typewriter. (I suspect that most or all of it was written in Santa Barbara in the mid-1980s, although I may have started it much earlier.) A few of the details are autobiographical in origin (e.g., I grew up with three brothers, but certainly without a nanny, and the description of the grandparents’ mansion mostly corresponds to my own grandparents’ home in Florence, Alabama, owned and occupied today by a local friend), but most of them obviously aren’t.
I’ve hesitated about publishing much of my fiction on this site because the responses to my stories so far have been fairly minimal — a likely result of “niche marketing” that tends to associate this site almost exclusively with film (or, to a lesser extent, jazz and reviews of prose fiction) — but I’ve decided to repost this with links on Facebook and Twitter just to see if this changes anything. — J.R.
The restaurant was so crowded that they had to assign all six of us to separate tables, with careful instructions to deliver five of the checks to Daddy-Pop after the meal, reconvene, and then go to see a Marx Brothers double feature down the street.… Read more »