Pale Wire (Popscene)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Moving Day

Sorry about the lack of activity. I moved from Chicago to Columbia, Missouri last weekend and I haven't got the net set up at my new place yet. But since I'm back in town this weekend to pick up the rest of my gear I'll throw you a bone.

Here are two books I've read in the last week:

Why Orwell Matters by Christopher Hitchens

I couldn't resist this one when I saw it over at Powell's. Hitch turns his considerable rhetorical abilities on the critics of George Orwell and makes some serious hay. Motherfuckers get lifted. It makes for some insightful and intelligent stuff. Hitchens paints a portrait of Orwell, warts and all, that is very appealing to me. It makes me want to read Homage to Catalonia and Down and Out in Paris and London.

The only creepy part is that, knowing what we know about Hitchen's politics, I couldn't help but get the inkling that, on some level, he equates his position on the war in Iraq with Orwell's position on Stalin.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee

Very famous play. This was my first exposure to it. Aging husband and wife engage in a sadomaschistic afterparty game of intrigue and humiliation with a naive young couple. Very fast paced and dark. The dialogue is fabulous.

I can't think of a good way to sum up the play myself but the following paragraph, excerpted from a Milan Kundera short story about a couple who discovers new things about each through roleplaying, will do nicely.

There's no escape from a game. A team cannot flee from the playing field before the end of the match, chess pieces cannot desert the chessboard: the boundaries of the playing field are fixed.

Okay, maybe that doesn't make much sense. (Especially if you haven't read the play.) I read it the day after I finished Albee's play and it struck a chord. Get off me.