Gush: ‘Wild’ by Jean-Marc Vallé & Reese Witherspoon

Wild by Jean-Marc Vallée starring Reese Witherspoon and Giovanni Ribisi

I picked up Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild earlier this year and found myself absolutely glued to it. As a person that owns more books than ever read, I blazed through this book pretty quick. Beyond being based on an amazing book, the film’s director is Canadian powerhouse Jean-Marc Vallé (Dallas Buyer’s Club, C.R.A.Z.Y) and the trailer uses Beck’s wonderful tune “Turn Away.” And the final wrinkle? The film was written by Nick Hornby!!!!!


Also, another Reese Witherspoon gem film for Festival 2014:

Words: Sheila Heti

I just started reading Toronto writer Sheila Heti’s book “How Should A Person Be?” It’s a thoughtful account of a snapshot into her life in Toronto – the struggles, excitement, love, and hate, really the whole package. Her writing is frank yet flawed, in essence her narrative is something that can be related to.

In slaughtering this book in less than 3 days, which may be a record for me, I’ve come to realize the emergent woman in contemporary media is the regular, flawed woman. Without even noticing, I’ve come to adore the flawed protagonist in television shows – Hannah Horvath (Girls), Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project), Jessica Day (The New Girl), Miranda July, and of course Sheila Heti. What made me think about all this was the comments of praise that both Dunham and July said of Heti’s book. They read:

“A really amazing metafiction-meets-nonfiction novel that’s so funny and strange.” – Lena Dunham

“A book that risks everything… Complex, artfully messy, and hilarious.” – Miranda July

I guess this shift away from the manic pixie dream girl is a good move and of course a shift away from the cookie cutter image of what a woman should ideally look like is a plus too. I am just not sure that I like all of my floppy, insecurities on display for everyone to see. Maybe it’s endearing, maybe not. I do take a unique pleasure in knowing some of the horrendous experiences that these TV show regular gals encounter are stuff that I too have experienced. They’re fake, I’m real. What I think matters, not what Mindy Kaling thinks. I will likely never meet Kaling, as much as I’d really like to.

OK, off to live my regular girl life. However if you want to delve into someone else’s life, I highly recommend picking up Sheila Heti’s light read titled “How Should A Person Should Be?” Strategically structured words made into a question reflect Heti’s inquisitive and insecure narrative – it’s an adventure, not a manifesto. Her book made with her pal Mischa Glouberman titled “The Chairs Are Where People Go” is another good, simple read, perfect for zoning out on the subway.

Also, my friend Dan interviewed Heti about her book.

‘Telegraph Avenue’ Michael Chabon

chabI just started reading this gem after getting sucked in by its fantastic artwork, music focus, and the Bay Area. There’s so much mention to albums that I’ve never laid my ears on, so here mark the spot of a wonderful new project… As if I needed another one on my plate…

I am going to try and listen to as many of the albums mentioned as possible… Here’s my start based on today’s read:

Donald Byrd Electric Byrd Blue Note 1970
Melvin Sparks Sparks! Prestige 1970Melvin Sparks Spark Plug Prestige 1971
Charles Kynard Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui Prestige 1971
Airto Fingers CTI 1971
Andy Gibb After Dark RSO 1980
John Coltrane Kulu Sé Mama Impulse! 1967
Miles Davis On the Corner Columbia 1972

And that’s just 25 pages in!!!!


“My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum” Neko Case

Ages ago, I found this poem waiting in a doctor’s office from the Chicago-based publication The Poetry Foundation. I (not so) swiftly took the magazine and slipped it into my bag, I had to have that poem in my possession, it felt slightly more OK that it was a dated issue. This poem is a total gem:

My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum

by Neko Case

When I was asked by Poetry to write an article for them I was ecstatic. I was flattered. I felt important! I agreed immediately. About twenty minutes after sending my e-mail of acceptance I paused to triumphantly sharpen my claws on the bookcase when I noticed the blazing, neon writing on the wall. It said: YOU’VE NEVER EVEN PASSED ENGLISH 101 AND EVERYONE WHO READS THIS MAGAZINE WILL KNOW IT. Why do I care? I’m not sure. I think it’s because I don’t want to let poetry down. Poetry is such a delicate, pretty lady with a candy exoskeleton on the outside of her crepe-paper dress. I am an awkward, heavy-handed mule of a high school dropout. I guess I just need permission to be in the same room with poetry.I think the fear began in about fifth grade. Right off the top they said poetry was supposed to have “form.” Even writing a tiny haiku became a wrestling match with a Claymation Cyclops for me. (I watched a lot of Sinbad.) We aren’t too cool for poetry; it’s the other way around. At least that’s the impression I took from public school. The fact that these feelings would remain into adulthood is ridiculous. We all have the right to poetry! How could I still think it’s for other people? Smarter people. What’s doubly confusing is I don’t have the same reservations when poetry is accompanied by music. Perhaps I feel that way because there is music all around us — it’s the wallpaper of our lives. It’s not considered precious in American culture unless a symphony is performing it.I do know when a string of printed words busts my little dam and the tears spill over and I sponge them up with my T-shirt. I couldn’t give you that formula before it happens, it  just hits me like a bat to the face. That’s a sweet, hot, amazing, embarrassing moment. It even makes me feel a little included, as if  I have to be “ready for the poetry” for it to be happening.

I can’t choose which kind of poetry I like best. Sonnets? Prose? I don’t know the terminology. I just blurt out some fragmented gibberish into the vast, woodsy country of poetry. It freezes in midair. Here come some examples now . . .

Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus haunts me. Aaron’s death speech is veiled, venomous gospel music. I read it over and over even though I’ve already memorized it like a teenage girl in love. W.H. Auden scares me under the couch (even when he’s being funny). I hold my flashlight on “The Witnesses,” with its haunting “humpbacked surgeons/And the scissors man,” until my arm shakes, my trusty dictionary in my other hand. Dorothy Parker makes me manic! I can’t even make it through the first three lines of “The Godmother” without bursting into tears. Lynda Barry and Sherman Alexie save my life constantly. They battle identity crisis with a sense of  humor and a language that speaks so hard to me because they came from my home, in my own time, and they talk to me in our special parlance. They tell me I’m not crazy because they remember it too. It really is the old Washington State that created my personal brain-picture ABC’s. (D is for “Douglas fir.”) The same Washington State I can never go back to. Barry and Alexie volunteer to go in my place. Their memories make friends with mine. I can’t live without them.

What do these poets have in common? They don’t write sycophantic, roman-numeral-volumed postcards to God. They don’t get all “love-ity-love-love” either. I get the sense they imagine their audience and want to comfort them. They are so good at it they even have the ability to comfort us with scariness. Sadness too. I think that is a powerful magic. They don’t just write poetry either; they are playwrights and painters and singers and novelists.

How can we help them out? I guess we keep on needing them, even if it’s kind of a secret. If the poets handed out anonymous comment cards for us shy poetry lovers to fill out so they could get a better idea of what we needed, I would direct them to the Osbourne Brothers’ bluegrass classic, “Rocky Top.” They say in two lines what poets and writers “Anna Karenina” themselves to death to convey, about a girl who’s “wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop/I still dream about that.” If those lines were written about me I could lie down and die. It is perfection. Uncool Perfection.

Originally Published: November 18, 2007


Alright McSweeny’s, I’ve just about had it. I don’t subscribe to the Believer because it costs so damn much just to ship it. But I find the most dazzling tote in the world as part of your ‘Bryne Bundle’ for today but you want $50 for the goods and another $50 just to ship.

Get real, guys!

BUT REALLY, the most amazing tote in the word….


Lena Dunham Book

Girls. Tiny Furniture. It’s only natural a book follows.


Random House has acquired a book by Lena Dunham, the 26-year-old writer, actor and filmmaker, in one of the most heated auctions of the year.

The debut essay collection, “Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned,” was hotly pursued by publishers after Ms. Dunham, the writer and star of the HBO comedy “Girls,” circulated a 66-page proposal with color, illustrations and a humor that publishing executives predicted could produce another best seller like Tina Fey’s blockbuster memoir, “Bossypants.”


Bidding climbed past $3.5 million, several publishers who were involved in the negotiations said. Theresa Zoro, a spokeswoman for Random House, declined to comment on the advance. (New York Times)

tiff’12 take one: ‘On the Road’ Directed by Walter Salles

Director Walter Salles who previously directed the film The Motorcycle Diaries has refocused his attention onto Jack Kerouac’s legendary novel On The Road.

I loved the movie Howl which was about a pal of Kerouac’s Allen Ginsberg, so I can’t wait to explore further. Given, On the Road isn’t intended to be a life account as the film Howl was, but was largely based on the lives of Kerouac and his gang which included Ginsberg and other beat artists of the mid-twentieth century.

The cast looks good, which will get the film out to largely audiences. I also adore the ads they’ve put out for the film –

Also, here’s an interesting read writer Chuck Klosterman (Downtown Owl, Sex, Lies and Coco Puffs) wrote for one of my favourite magazines The Believer back in 2008 on the potential movie rendition of Kerouac’s On the Road.

I also found out that Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights for the screenplay in 1979. He however couldn’t figure out a way to write the film himself. Nearly two decades later, after seeing Salles’ 1997 film the Motorcycle Diaries, he asked Salles to direct the film… et voila.

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