Iceland Revisited

“On earth’s part
all days start beautifully
patiently it revolves and revolves
with its trees
and oceans and lakes
deserts and volcanoes
the two of us and the rest of you
and all the animals”

Pétur Gunnarsson

(no real reason to post this apart from the fact that I liked it. And as I’ve finally finished eight holidays this year I’m officially knackered)

Backcountry Film

After watching and quite enjoying “Backcountry“, (with the second rate but still good looking version of Alessandra Ambrosio) I was reminded of this great Bill Bryson quote from “A Walk in the Woods“…

It was not the size or demeanor of the bears that troubled me–they looked almost comically nonaggressive, like four guys who had gotten a Frisbee caught up a tree–but their numbers. Up to that moment it had not occurred to me that bears might prowl in parties. What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die, of course. Literally shit myself lifeless. I would blow my sphincter out my backside like one of those unrolling paper streamers you get at children’s parties–I daresay it would even give a merry toot–and bleed to a messy death in my sleeping bag.”

Great Expectations…

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

More Obsession

I know I rarely post about music and I also know that I’m still obsessed with Your Body is a Weapon by the Wombats, but I’m completely and totally hooked on this amazing cover of Bowie’s Sound and Vision by Beck. It features over 160 other artists, from yodellers to choirs to an orchestra to rock guitarists and even a hugely cool guy playing a Theremin! As if that wasn’t enough, it was recorded in an intimate environment where Beck stood in the middle of the audience who revolved around him and in turn had the musicians revolved around them! You can watch the entire 360° experience online, but for now just dive into this brilliant song…

Trompe L’oeil

Oh and as a quick aside, the painting that is the subject of The Goldfinch in the article below is an example of a “Trompe L’oeil“.

I’m waiting patiently…

So, you haven’t got an idea what it means either?

Well, it means “deceive the eye” in French or as we’d say a “trick of the eye” and describes the art technique of using realistic imagery to create an optical illusion of depth. The simplest and most obvious example of this is the image below…

Trompe L'oeil

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

One of the biggest problems with starting a book on the Kindle is the “how bloody big is this thing?” question. I think a great invention would be something that changes the weight of the Kindle based on the story you are reading. However if that was possible then I’d have probably never started The Goldfinch  by Donna Tartt as it comes in at a hefty 800 pages.

Set mainly in New York it centres around a boy who loses his mother in a terrorist attack in a museum and finds himself leaving the scene with an incredible, priceless painting. As the years go on and his simultaneous guilt and love of the painting grow, the author does a really good job of not giving you a clue how the story will end. As per normal I don’t want to ruin the story by talking too much about it, but it’s a great combination of theft, guilt, coming of age, loss, redemption and some pretty intense drug taking set in contemporary New York, Las Vegas and Amsterdam. I particularly liked the intense relationship between the protagonist Theo Decker and his friend Boris, even though it was pushed to extremes at times.

Even ignoring the great story, one of my favourite parts of the book (not a plot spoiler) was the details about antique restoration, yes I know that sounds like a completely boring subject, but trust me it’s very interesting.

By the end of the book I was completely sure that the author had made up the painting and its artist, Carel Fabritius, that the story revolves around – so I was completely amazed to find out that both of them are very much real…

Carel Fabritius The Goldfinch

Anyway it’s a really top recommendation from me, let me just find a couple of my highlighted passages…

Water streamed down the windows, quicksilver heavy, sealing us into the car

Wow, “quicksilver heavy”.

And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky – so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.

Beautiful! go read it!