Review: André Aciman’s Enigma Variations

André Aciman’s fourth novel, Enigma Variations, is more of an exercise in tone than anything else, which makes sense. The title is taken from an eponymous composition by Edward Elgar and is, in an odd sort of way, a literary interpretation of the piece. The book is broken into five sections, each of them tracing the relationships that Paul, a classicist, has with a significant romantic partner. As a whole, Enigma Variations is short on plot and substance, but its stream of consciousness narrative and naked display of emotion make the experience a rewarding one. “First Love,” the opening and best section of the book, sets an impressively high bar for the rest of the story. On vacation with his […]

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Book Blog: Books by celebrities that are actually kind of okay

It’s been about a month since former One Direction member Zayn Malik released Z, a memoir/photo diary about the transition period between his last days as a boy-band member and his solo career. Unfortunately, it’s not well-written or trashy enough to recommend. Fortunately for you, I’ve compiled a list of books, fiction and nonfiction, by other celebrities that are more than worth your time. I’ll Never Write My Memoirs – Grace Jones Grace Jones’ career has been a long and diverse one. She’s been a model, singer, actress, muse, and shows no signs of stopping. Having worked with Keith Harring, Andy Warhol, and Yves Saint Laurent, Jones has had a long and storied career—the kind that’s perfect for a tell-all […]

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Book Blog: Ways of Reading

When people think about John Berger, who passed on Jan. 2, they’re probably thinking about the documentary series Ways of Seeing, in which he discussed the perception of art, touching on subjects like oil painting, the nude, and reinterpreting Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction for a new generation. However, Berger’s true strength lay in his written works: eight novels and a multitude of nonfiction texts have come to define his legacy as a humanist and sagacious interpreter of art. Here are some of his notable works. G. (1972) Published the same year that Ways of Seeing was originally broadcast, G. was Berger’s first great novel. The story is an update of the Casanova […]

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Review: Alexander Chee’s The Queen of the Night

I couldn’t really think of another book to compare with Alexander Chee’s second novel, The Queen of the Night. Chee’s writing is reminiscent of Angela Carter’s ornate style, but lacks her decidedly satirical edge. The novel is set during the period of France’s Second Empire—the reign of Napoleon III—and features historical figures like Turgenev and Bizet, and forces like the Paris Commune as ornamental features. Indeed, the story is set almost exclusively in brothels, palaces, and, of course, the theatre. Only Pedro Almodóvar, the Spanish director known for his melodramas, brought the closest comparison. While Chee’s novel certainly isn’t as campy as the aforementioned director’s films, there’s a certain grandiose element to the proceedings that never loses focus of its […]

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Review: Two Lovers and a Bear

The only time the movie Two Lovers and a Bear lives up to the pulpiness of its title is around two-thirds of the way through its runtime: a young couple speeds across the tundra on a shared snowmobile as The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” is played at full blast. When isolated from the rest of the movie, which is as dour as it is surreal, the scene makes little to no sense but it works anyways. Two Lovers is at its best when it’s the most manic, and it’s singular in that sense. After all, how many movies can boast having Gordon Pinsent voice an all-knowing polar bear? At the centre of the movie are Roman (Dane DeHaan) and […]

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