I am continuing my exploration of Russia through books... I loved Solomon Volkov's extraordinary Saint-Petersburg: A Cultural History, which brings to life many of my heroes such as Dmitri Shostakovich, the dancers of the Marinsky, and Gogol. Volkov also discusses great authors who are little known in the West, such as Mikhail Zoschenko, whose Galosh And Other Stories, with its graphic Soviet-style cover, is poised between the tragi-comedies of Gogol and Bulgakov; it's one of the funniest, most biting and simply best collection of stories I ever read.
Volkov also focuses on one of my favorite poets and freedom icons, Joseph Brodsky - with whom he discusses Russia, poetry, prison and much more in Conversations With Joseph Brodsky. Humorous, heart-wrenching (Brodsky's prison and mental hospital memories) and scholarly, this book is something of a precious encyclopedia.
This fall, I am awaiting two movies with trepidation, and it so happens both have to do with books. Of course, there is the universally anticipated Where The Wild Things Are (do watch the trailer!), based on Maurice Sendak's masterpiece of children literature. But there's also Bright Star (watch the beautiful trailer here). Directed by Jane Campion, who broke my heart with her early features Sweetie and An Angel At My Table, it tells an episode in the life of Keats. And as AUREA regulars know, I am a poetry lover, a verse muncher, a beast of poems.
Magically, I scored an invitation to a preview screening - held up thanks to my Gaynor Minden magnets, the invitation graces my fridge. Tomorrow is the day.
And until then, let's read a passage from Keats's Last Sonnet, which starts with the words "Bright Star!":
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors:—