I was on a train last year reading a review copy of Boomsday by Christopher Buckley, which was not yet out in stores. The guy next to me noticed it, and told me "My friend's book is coming out from the same publisher next year." His friend turned out to be Jennifer 8. Lee, whose amusing name I'd occasionally noticed in New York Times bylines. Her first book was going to be about the history of Chinese food in America.
French film maker Philippe Ramos has recently released a film titled Capitaine Achab (Captain Ahab). It's the story of Herman Melville's obsessed sea captain, from the time he was a young boy until his last, fatal meeting with Moby Dick. The film won the FIPRESCI prize at the 60th annual Locarno (Switzerland) film festival. FIPRESCI is the Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique or International Federation of Film Critics.
Ramos' idea is interesting: imagine -- and fill in the gaps of -- Ahab’s life, which was sketched but not drawn in detail by Melville in Moby Dick. Ramos presents Ahab’s story in a series of vignettes. In presenting the tale in this fashion, the film maker deviates from the style of Melville's classic novel, which is packed with details on everything from whaling techniques to a psychological study of the interplay between Pip the cabin boy and Ahab. Instead, Ramos gives us five miniatures of Ahab's life, almost like five Vermeer oils, visually arresting and providing just enough detail to get a sense of Ahab's development.
But I'll be back for the first issue of April next weekend, and I'm sure I'll be my usual pithy self again by then. Meanwhile, check out the NYTBR's Paper Cuts blog, which really has gotten livelier since they've opened it up to more writers. Good stuff.