a friend recently loaned me Brick, a literary journal-no. 85, summer, 2010. i admit i have passed this magazine by many times, to my detriment. i had the opportunity to spend a few weeks with the current issue.
i was intrigued by the opening article about an underground group who hosted films in the Parisian catacombs and fixed the Panthéon’s clock without permission. The Lizards, the Catacombs, and the Clocks by Sean Michaels was written in the form of an exposé about a roué named Lazar Kuntsman and his group known as La Mexicaine de Perforation (LMDP) which is part of a larger organization called UX whose aim is to give people expériences in the French sense of the word, which also means experiments. We first encounter this group upon the discovery of an underground theatre in the catacombs which they claim responsibility for.
another article, a kind of elegy to the recently deceased Kate McGarrigle by Carl Wilson was very moving:
“Whenever I hear the first twist in the lyrics of Kate’s early classic “Talk to Me of Mendocino”—“And the trees grow high in New York State, and they shine like gold in autumn / Never had the blues from whence I came, but in New York State I caught ‘em” – I picture Saint-Saveur-des Monts between the wars (the one in Europe and the one to come with Quebec’s Quiet Revolution)as the Town With No Blues, just greens and white sky and brown dirt under nails. But without that dose of cerulean poison contracted out in the world, Kate’s music would have been merely heavenly, a mere aerie, rather than a static-charged plane upon which serenity stared danger down—as a John Cale album title once had it “seducing down the door.”
i found the non fiction articles to be of the most interest for me, particularly the reviews of books and writers i have never heard of such as Rawi Hage’s review of the Writings of Rachid Al-Daif, Linda Spalding’s review of Trauma Farm by Linda Spalding for example. Later I was in Collected Works and almost purchased Trauma Farm based on Spalding’s review. I’ve noted and added to my wishlist. what i liked about these reviews is that they were more than just reviews, they were good writing
I was also fascinated by the article on the films of Eric Rohmer by Damion Searls, the interview of Javier Marías by Juan Gabriel Márquez, the passionate piece on Patti Smith by Joseph O’Connor, Alison Harris’ dark photos of Il Teatro Sociale di Camogli, a theatre built in Genoa in the 1800s. There’s a whole world out there and i find it exciting to read about Arabic culture, Spanish soccer and chefs who sell 1000 copies of their books in Toronto bookstores.
there was an interesting article on Michael Murphy’s Proust in America by Eric Karpeles, which discusses in detail the American influences on Proust’s A la recherché du temps perdu. We had to study Du côté de Chez Swann in high school and i’ve been meaning to read the whole thing one of these days. i’ll probably switch to English and give it a go for my 100th birthday or something.
then there was Eleanor Wachtel’s interview with Zadie Smith. I keep meaning to read her On Beauty and now i hear she has a collection of essays on Kafka and others.
Layne Coleman’s piece “Oais of Hope” about being infatuated with writer Carole Corbeil was highly entertaining. I enjoyed Coleman’s style and the voice of Corbeil, who i’ve never read and now just might have to.
the whole magazine was like a dinner party with engaging and sophisticated friends. i suggest you get a copy of the current issue, crack open a bottle of my favourite Rioja and imbibe…