In universes of their own: Sontag, Denis, Smith, Hopkinson (Week in Review)

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Image credit: “Susan Sontag” by Agente Montenegro on Flickr

Because of the timeliness of Susan Sontag’s cultural analyses, her divisive political capers, and her also high-profile female and male lovers (Annie Leibovitz, Lucinda Childs, Joseph Brodsky, etc), many focus on the private life of this public persona at the expense of her works. The new documentary Regarding Susan Sontag is no exception. In contrast, Steve Wasserman’s essay for the Los Angeles Review of Books on the “critic and crusader” steers attention towards Sontag’s ideas. Unable to avoid some mention of both her politics and appetites, Wasserman filters these through discussion of both the moral and aesthetic content of her writing. See here for his take on this “insomniac omnivore, insatiable, driven, endlessly curious, obsessed collector of enthusiasms and passions.” —

Claire Denis, director of visually and rhythmically other-worldly films-as-choreography (e.g., Beau Travail, Chocolat, etc), has a new film in the works. In one sense, she seems to be moving into unfamiliar territory with what is reported to be a futuristic adventure sci-fi. However, her enlisting of White Teeth author Zadie Smith suggests she’ll probably continue with her characteristically subtle studies of people at society’s margins. E. Alex Jung at Vulture predicts “a lot of beautiful mixed-race space aliens dancing in kaleidoscopic rooms.” Maybe. We can at least count on a dream-like social critique. —

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Need a supernatural action adventure airplane read with substance? Check out Nalo Hopkinson’s first novel, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998). Set in a dystopian inner city Toronto politically marginalized after white flight (and modeled on Detroit), the novel tackles organ harvesting, crime bosses, survivalism and pan-Africanist/Caribbean spirituality. Womanist in sensibility, it focuses on third-generation Afro-Caribbean Canadian Ti-Jeanne’s coming of age into her own power as she faces exploitation on all sides.

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