REVIEW: Sacré Bleu: A Comedy D’Art

May 16, 2012 5:00 am0 comments

The official Christopher Moore Web site promises that, “Now, in his latest masterpiece, Sacré Bleu, the immortal Moore takes on the Great French Masters.”

The immortal Moore? His latest masterpiece? It’s an awful lot of hyperbole (written, one suspects, by the immortal himself) for a novel that’s amusing, sometimes witty, often coarse, and a great deal of fun. A terrific weekend read, absolutely; a masterpiece … well, you be the judge.

Readers who are already familiar with the Christopher Moore opus might remember Coyote Blue, and the two books have something in common besides the instance of color in their titles—in Coyote Blue, the mayhem centers around the Trickster of Navajo legend; in Sacré Bleu there is also a unifying theme centering around another “bad guy” — in this case, the color blue, which he also immediately identifies as another “trickster.”

A quick caveat: a friend once remarked that a certain group of people was difficult to hang out with because “if you don’t speak Latin, you miss all the good jokes.” There’s a similarity here: if you’re not familiar with nineteenth-century art and artists, you’re going to be playing catch-up from the start of the novel. Manet, Monet, Seurat, Pissarro, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Gaugin, and Renoir all wander in and out of Moore’s pages as though they were completely at home with him. As, in a sense, they are.

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The Poet In Motion

May 9, 2012 5:00 am0 comments


Nick Flynn on writing, memory, and The Fine Arts Work Center

Nick Flynn is shaving.  He has an engagement at the Rubin Museum of Art in downtown Manhattan along with psychologist William Hirst titled “Based on a True Story” to discuss memory.  Hirst studies it, Flynn makes it into art. 

An award-winning poet Flynn reached literary stardom with his 2004 memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City , which recounts encountering his estranged, alcoholic father while working at a Boston homeless shelter.  He followed it up six years later with The Ticking Is The Bomb: A Memoir, an exploration of  having children while the country is engaged in two wars.  His first book is now a film, Being Flynn,  starring Robert DeNiro,  Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano, as Nick. 

With the water running, there’s the sound of the tap of a razor with a splash. 

“Its something that I’m without a frame of reference, for me at least,” says Flynn, who was on set of the film’s shoot. “I don’t know many examples of having one’s life reenacted at such a high level.”

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The WORD: Pieces of Eight by Joshua Blair Delaney

October 26, 2011 7:02 pm0 comments

altexcerpted from “Pieces of Eight” by Joshua Blair Delaney

June 1715
There were times when the sea looked much like a plow field to Samuel Bellamy. In the ridges of waves, he could see lines of furrowed ground, such that is fit for planting. The sight of it made him wish he were on a patch of dry land, holding yoke reins, instead of on a ship, hauling the mainsheet and cutting through an immeasurable expanse of water. Sometimes he could not believe that only two months ago he had been standing with soil under foot and chin resting on the nub of his spade, looking out over the hills of Devon at the Atlantic and dreaming to be where he was now.
Farming had become an unbearable toil to him. In the passage of black dirt to crop to harvest and back to seed, he had found nothing but a cycle of monotony that seemed to have no end and no lasting growth either. It was a repetitive rhythm that beat into him until he was sure that he would be in its motion to the day he died. He had thought that nothing in life could produce the same kind of drone until he had been staring at the gray, unmoving line of the horizon for weeks on end.
It had taken Bellamy a fortnight to get used to the pitch and sway of ship life, and it was only then that he could keep the entire day’s worth of meals down.
Now that most of the ocean was behind them, Bellamy could almost keep his pace in the smooth, collective effort the crew employed to keep the ship, Josephine, moving. It would have appeared an elegant dance but for the flying fists and cudgels of the mates, which kept the men from even thinking of letting the pace waver. There was often an extra blow for Bellamy, the kind that most first time sailors got when they were ten or fifteen years younger, just for being new to the trade. The mates did not often see a thirty-year-old out on his maiden voyage, and they assumed that his late start was due to an easy life that they meant to work out of him. This was his first trip across the wide sea, and Bellamy felt his age coming down on him like the hammer of rain that was starting. He already wondered if it would be his last voyage.
“Ship Ahoy!” came a cry from a man high on the mainsail yard.
Captain Pound stood at the back rail of the ship, leaning out over the water and aiming a spy glass outward. He was a solid-built, grizzled looking man with hair the color of a fading sunset. He grumbled under his breath as he swept the glass to and fro.
Bellamy grabbed hold of the mainsheet, stepping next to a man who could have been Bellamy’s brother, with his similar black hair and beard.
“What’s he see out there? If it is another ship, they’re a bit late. I could have used a gam when we were out in the middle of the ocean, traded some mail and tidings. We’ll be ashore soon enough now,” Francis Harlow said.
Bellamy looked out to sea and saw nothing but continuous waves and a sheet of black clouds rising out of the east, like a giant, gloomy sail being hauled up the face of the sky.

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REVIEW: The Tides of Provincetown

October 11, 2011 5:00 am0 comments

altThis past summer, the New Britain Museum of American Art (in Connecticut) presented an exhibition of works specifically tied to the Provincetown artist colony. The exhibition, containing works by over 100 artists closes October 16, but it will then tour the country with a stop at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, May 18 through Aug. 26, 2012. In the mean time, the exhibition book has been released and is available at a number of locations in town.
The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America’s Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899 – 2011) is a collection of essays about important moments in the art colony’s history, from Charles Hawthorne’s founding of the Cape Cod School of Art through today. In each period, we find Provincetown continually reinventing itself as the town changed from a Portuguese-American fishing village to its current status as a Mecca for GLBT tourism, among other things.
The book is not comprehensive, and everyone will have someone they think should have been included who wasn’t or someone they think should not have been included, but still it is an excellent resource for those interested in the history of art here.
Each of the nine chapters covers an important element of Provincetown’s rich artistic history. Former director of the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum Jim Bakker starts us off with a piece on Charles Hawthorne’s founding of the Cape Cod School of Art here in 1899. His chapter is chock full of information about the very earliest days of the artist colony – before it even was an artist colony.

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Team Provincetown, Team P’Town

September 29, 2011 3:08 pm0 comments

Identity in Provincetown has become such a monumental force that it is worthy of an anthropological study of tribalism. Or it would be a great subject for ridicule. It all depends on what team you’re on. Artist Brian Einersen’s new book P-town Humor features cartoon drawings with a sly sense of humor about some of the more absurd aspects of life in Provincetown, particularly the strong opinions that can plant people firmly in opposing camps.
With a deep interest in pop culture, Einersen tapped into a faux rivalry created by the media as inspiration for the book, which features t-shirts declaring dueling devotions to Provincetown institutions, characters, and locales.
“Back when Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie someone created t-shirts saying ‘Team Aniston’ and ‘Team Jolie’,” says Einersen. “The media pits those two against each other. In town there are not so much rivalries, but so many categories, like Team Sunburn and Team Sun Tan. There always seems to be two of everything in Provincetown.”

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It’s Never Black and White

August 4, 2011 7:19 pm0 comments

“I’m from such a politically liberal family and I myself am so liberal that I know liberals and their foibles; I know them very well and the one thing I hate is ideological thinking on the right or the left. I think it’s so destructive,” says Sebastian Junger as he boards the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. We’re speaking by telephone about his upcoming appearance at the Wellfleet Public Library as part of Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill’s Tuesday Lecture Series. Junger plans to discuss his experiences in Afghanistan, his recent New York Times editorial, and the loss of his friend and colleague, Tim Hetherington, with whom he directed the Academy-Award-nominated documentary Restrepo.
Junger is known for what might be called a kind of “macho journalism,” in the sense that he has made a career covering dangerous situations at close range. His first book was The Perfect Storm, a New York Times bestseller about Gloucester fishermen who were lost at sea in a major storm in 1991. He followed it up with Fire, a collection of works Junger wrote about some of the most dangerous places in the world – Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, etc.  And then there was A Death in Belmont, which looked at the murder of Bessie Goldberg during the Boston Strangler years in his hometown of Belmont, Massachusetts. Most recently, he wrote the book War and co-directed Restrepo, both about the war in Afghanistan.

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My God, My God Why Have you Forsaken Me?

July 17, 2011 3:05 am0 comments

Walking in to the Parish hall everyone hushed. They were all staring at us. They all had these frowns and wrinkled foreheads. The kids just stared blankly at me. And I hated it. I wanted to leave. I wanted to quit. I didn’t want to be Jesus anymore. Hugs. Mumbled [...]

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Excerpted from Mirrors by Marianne K. Martin

February 15, 2011 9:35 pm0 comments

enlargeThe perimeter of the bedroom, like the rest of Shayna Bradley’s house, was an entry straight out of a Showcase of Homes tour. Professionally draped window treatments, “socks-only” carpet, eucalyptus and silk-flower arrangements. Testimony to an organized life and a disciplined mind. The center of the room, however, resembled the aftermath of a tornado touchdown. Shoes and clothes and pillows were strewn about the floor. A moat of pink-and-purple bedspread circled the foot of the bed; splayed on the bed’s surface was a tangle of satin brown arms and legs wrapped in slips of a stark white sheet.

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