A sneak peek of the sneak peek of books coming fall 2013!
Patrick Leigh Fermor is actually staring at a goat (not shown) in this photo, but feel free to pretend he’s gazing at you.
I met her in Athens last year and talked about this project. She knew Fermor personally so this should be a great read for that reason alone.
I could not be more excited about this book, and not merely because Patrick Leigh Fermor is staring at a goat with the classical smile of subtle happiness.
Baby Tragos and I in Verona.
Baby Tragos takes Juliet’s spot in Verona. Mrs. Tragos takes Romeo’s.
The Duomo in Como late at night.
“Everyone, sooner or later, gets a thorough schooling in brokenness. The question becomes: What to do with the pieces? Some people hunker down atop the local pile of ruins and make do, Bedouin tending their goats in the shade of shattered giants. Others set about breaking what remains of the world into bits ever smaller and more jagged, kicking through the rubble like kids running through piles of leaves. And some people, passing among the scattered pieces of that great overturned jigsaw puzzle, start to pick up a piece here, a piece there, with a vague yet irresistible notion that perhaps something might be done about putting the thing back together again.
Two difficulties with this latter scheme at once present themselves. First of all, we have only ever glimpsed, as if through half-closed lids, the picture on the lid of the jigsaw puzzle box. Second, no matter how diligent we have been about picking up pieces along the way, we will never have anywhere near enough of them to finish the job. The most we can hope to accomplish with our handful of salvaged bits—the bittersweet harvest of observation and experience—is to build a little world of our own. A scale model of that mysterious original, unbroken, half-remembered. Of course the worlds we build out of our store of fragments can be only approximations, partial and inaccurate. As representations of the vanished whole that haunts us, they must be accounted failures. And yet in that very failure, in their gaps and inaccuracies, they may yet be faithful maps, accurate scale models, of this beautiful and broken world. We call these scale models “works of art.”
Michael Chabon, “Wes Anderson’s Worlds”, NYRblog, January 31, 2013.
A lovely article, and Chabon’s classification of people according to their attitude toward the world’s essential brokenness is tremendously suggestive, but his final definition is odd and doesn’t quite fit. It seems introduced purely for the sake of rhetoric, at least if we want to keep the term “scale model” circumscribed enough to be useful.
Works of art are clearly not the exclusive product of the third attitude he describes, that of the restorer and detail-obsessed model-builder. Keeping the discussion to currently working Western film directors, Scorsese, the Coen brothers, Tarantino, or Carax in his latest film, are Eliotically “hunkered down atop their ruins”, brilliantly tending their derivative herds of stitched up together sources. Others, like Haneke or classic Cronenberg, dispense with nostalgia altogether, and in their unseemliness and radical unsentimentality are more of the kicking through the rubble persuasion.
Finally, even directors like Lynch or Malick that, like Anderson in this respect, have some wholesome idea of the past (real or imaginary) that informs their films from the point of view of a fallen present, don’t look for transcendence in detail and scale, but just the opposite. Theirs are bottomless boxes, leading straight down to the expanses of the unconscious or the terribly indifferent, yet completely interconnected, natural universe.