Forum / The Great American Artist of the 21st Century

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 02, 06:54am

    His name is Chris Ware. His new book, 'Rusty Brown,' just came out. They are going to announce the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature on Friday, October 6, 2019. Chris Ware will not be the winner. But he should be.

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 12:01am

    I thought you were pulling for Vollmann.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 01:05am

    Not pulling for Vollman, just think, based on the political nature of his ENORMOUS body of work that he will be the next America novelist to receive this award. Aesthetically, however, I am much more into Ware's work. It's beautiful and intricate and sad and funny. That he draws both pictures and words should not disqualify him from being appreciated as literature of the highest order.

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 12:11pm

    I gather, then, you disapproved of Dylan (Zimmerman).

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    David Ackley
    Oct 09, 02:06pm

    Given the number of great writers ignored, bypassed, or denied this award, there is reason to think there is more honor in the obvious neglect than the award.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 04:31pm

    I would never disapprove of Dylan being rewarded for his work. He's one of the all-time greats, and the secret heir to Charlie Chaplin.

    The Nobel elevates those who receive it into the Pantheon. And for that alone it should be monitored and discussed.

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    David Ackley
    Oct 09, 05:13pm

    Henrik Pontoppidan?

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 05:32pm

    Yep, even old Henrik. If only to understand why, and who knows, maybe there's something to be learned, aesthetically speaking, from the long forgotten Henrik.

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    David Ackley
    Oct 09, 07:44pm

    What I truly think is that the Nobel is a hit or miss affair, and while the hits are significant, the misses defy reason, even allowing for differences of opinion. By the time Tolstoi died the Nobel prize in literature had been awarded ten times. Except to him, the greatest novelist of all. Joyce didn't receive it, nor did Auden, though it was awarded, go figure, to Winston Churchill. Ignoring Franz Kafka might be forgiven on the basis of his obscurity during his lifetime. But favoring Boris Pasternak over 20th Century Soviet writers like Mikhail Bulgakov, Osip Mandelstaum, and Isaac Babel, who could sorely have used the cover that the Nobel might have given, and undoubtedly deserved it on the strength of their work is somehow unforgiveable. Perhaps it would have saved Virginia Woolf's life, who knows? In the end, I'd stick with opinion above, which is being too kind.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 07:58pm

    I'm with you, David. Damien Chazelle and Tom Hooper and John G. Avildsen have Oscars for Best Director. Stanley Kubrick? No. David Lynch (DAVID FUCKING LYNCH!)? No. Paul Thomas Anderso (or Wes Anderson)? No. Awards, in the end, mean shit. However, it would be nice if they got it right, just one time (They did give Beckett a Nobel, which means they can do it if they want to).

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    David Ackley
    Oct 09, 08:25pm

    For me, Beckett is worth a lot too. Ditto Camus and Sartre( who had the good sense, if not the timing to belatedly refuse it.) A footnote to the Wikipedia entry says that Dylan has removed the Nobel from his website. Hmm.

    As to film directors, and films in general and the oscars, for the most part it's teeth grinding time and I try to avoid the ceremonies. David Lynch's snubbing is criminal, and what about every TV award ignoring Twin Peaks in the new version?

    But for reasons that I can only speculate on film seems to baffle even the critics, not counting Anthony Lane, pretty much the only reason for reading the New Yorker. You really wonder what people are seeing sometimes.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 08:33pm

    Twin Peaks: The Return was mind-blowing, esp. Episode 8, which may have been a culmination. Seems like Lynch used every experimental film technique from the last 70 years in the exact way it was intended. All 18 hours were incredible. And my kids were mesmerized. I know some people would object to me showing Lynch to a couple of 10 year olds, but I'm giving them the good stuff and giving it to them early. My oldest daughter is already a huge Nic Roeg fan and counts 'Don't Look Now' as one of her favorite films.

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 10:17pm

    Recently read Sea of Cortez, and went to Wiki with a question that arose. I had forgotten Steinbeck was a Nobel laureate, but what I found more interesting was that seven years the Nobel committee revealed that Steinbeck was a compromise choice. "...in 2012, the Nobel Prize opened its archives and it was revealed that Steinbeck was...among a shortlist [with] British authors Robert Graves and Lawrence Durrell, French dramatist Jean Anouilh and Danish author Karen Blixen. The declassified documents showed that he was chosen as the best of a bad lot. 'There aren't any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation,' wrote committee member Henry Olsson." And so it goes.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 10:45pm

    Vollman reminds me of Steinbeck if Steinbeck had a death wish and liked to smoke meth.

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 11:08pm

    Vollman's evidently taken Kinky Friedman's advice to heart, which might explain why he's apparently waiting until the last minute to move to hillbilly country. His reporting is the most exhaustively thorough I've ever encountered, and I figure the guy must love it to death to do it.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 11:12pm

    What advice did Kinky give him? And is this advice I should follow as well?

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 11:18pm

    Theoretically we all should, I suppose. It's ordinarily credited to Bukowski, but I double checked and it was Kinky who said, "Find something you like and let it kill you." Filtered thru Chukbuk the "like" becomes "love." I frequently get those two verbs confused.

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 11:31pm

    But I don't think it's the writing that's going to kill him. He already tried that and it didn't work. I think it's going to be the whores and meth, probably in tandem, as they are wont to do.

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 10, 12:16am

    Didn't know about that. I've read the first half of Carbon Ideologies and am trying to get my strength back to read the second. Was starting to feel unusually weird, as if some form of masochism were settling over my sense of vertical equilibrium. I can see why he'd reach for drugs, as well as the whores. Can't imagine any woman wanting to hang out with someone so obsessed with getting every fucking little nitpicky detail perfectly clear. Perfectly clear--jeezuz, that old trope just popped into my head. It's been what, how many decades? Perfectly clear...

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    Chris Okum
    Oct 10, 12:27am

    Vollman lends credence to the idea that the more you beg the world to kill you the more it has no interest in doing so.

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    David Ackley
    Oct 10, 01:45pm

    Can't claim enough familiarity with Vollman to have joined this latest discussion with the addicts but I enjoyed the hell out of reading it.

    As to Steinbeck, I was absolutely killed by THE GRAPES OF WRATH when I first read it when I was in college--which I think now was a reflection of real state of my literacy. A year ago I gave it another go and found it literally unreadable, the dialogue especially with its proliferating mispellings and patronizing diacritical marks for some sort of Faux Naive version of dialect "authenticity." A book utterly saved by the superior movie version, which probably more than anything accounted for his Nobel.

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    Mathew Paust
    Oct 10, 02:54pm

    I expect you're right, David. Been so long since I read Grapes I might as well not have read it. The movie, tho, is a classic, and it seems fairly apparent geopolitical mood is part of the mix in the Nobel consensus.

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