Saturday, July 28, 2007

Trinie Dalton

Trinie Dalton is the author of the short story collection Wide Eyed (Akashic) and co-editor of Dear New Girl Or Whatever Your Name Is (McSweeney’s), a book based on her archive of confiscated high school notes.

Her new book, A Unicorn is Born, is due out in November 2007.

I recently asked her what she was reading. She replied just after traveling to Oaxaca and Greece:
1/ The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (NYRB)

I love to read anything from this series, but this book especially was great to read stranded on Mykonos, as it's about a man trapped on an island facing imminent death. Composed as a series of letters that will serve as his memoir, the narrator recounts his hallucinations and paranoid fantasies about a female apparition he falls in love with as he stalks her spirit through the island's verdant jungle. Morel, the woman's ghostly counterpart, devises a machine that theoretically has ensnared all the captives, thus explaining why these ghosts can never leave the island. Faustine, the female sex goddess, was inspired by Louise Brooks, and has all the sass of a flapper. This book, a favorite of Jorge Luis Borges's, is magical realism combined with Modernist Sci-Fi, and makes for a juicy read.

2/ A Relative Stranger by Charles Baxter (Norton)

Charles Baxter is my current hero. His prose, ripe with details elucidating human psychology, is great in this classic story collection. Many of the stories involve people encountering one another but not quite gelling, or people who connect then fall apart. There is a mixture of comedy and tragedy that is unique to Baxter here that I wish I could pull off in my own fiction. He reminds me of a contemporary Flannery O'Connor.

3/ Gothic & Lolita (Phaidon)

As a sequel to their fashion book called Fruits, Phaidon has released a collection of photos depicting the latest Japanese kids from Tokyo sporting fetish gear related to the Gothic & Lolita movement. This style varies from super Goth, including branches like Cyber Goth, to Lolita, which is all about looking like a Victorian Doll or a little girl ready to be sexed up. The young kids are now apparently sporting fake cuts with bandages that show blood leaking through, and tiny hats tied onto the sides of their heads that look like puppy party hats. And my other favorite fashion are the furry leg warmers that go over tights or under frilly laced dresses to add that shaggy appeal for those who like hair. So hot!

4/ Witchcraft Through the Ages by Jack Stevenson (Fab Press, Cinema Classics Collection)

This is a cinema critical book relating to the 1922 silent film Haxan by Benjamin Christensen, which was rereleased in the 60s as Witchcraft Through the Ages narrated by William Burroughs. Both versions are favorite films of mine, in their depicting of stereotypes of the witches captured and killed during the Medieval witch craze in Northern Europe. The sets and cast are stunningly convincing. There are dioramas and animated sequences showing coven meetings led by Satan and in other scenes the Devil is portrayed as a hairy monster with pointy tail and all. Certain scenes are indeed tragic, especially those about the Spanish Inquisition, but the film was mostly meant to fascinate, not terrify. This book has some great still photos and tells the story of how difficult this project was for the director, as the film was banned all around Europe and his career was forever blemished from making such a controversial work of art. Bravo to him, as this film has stood the test of time and is one of the finest, still, on historical witchcraft. Glad it has been recently re-released on DVD and glad this book exists.
The Page 69 Test: Wide Eyed.

--Marshal Zeringue