The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

Grumpy McCarpsalot

I love to read.   I love the act of reading, the sensation of sinking mind-first into a story.  I need a certain amount of reading if I’m to function at full capacity.  I consider it a physiological necessity, like sleep, or chocolate.  Sure, I can get not-quite-enough for a few days, but sooner or later […]

Austen vs Heyer

Sherwood Smith over at Book View Cafe has a great piece about why Austen is not romance (comparing her books to Heyer).

Hot For Teacher

I always get a boost of industrious energy this time of year, and a renewed sense of purpose.  All those years of back-to-school excitement have left me with a nigh-Pavlovian response to Labour Day.  I’m one of those (apparently rare) few who actually liked school from kindergarten onwards, so the beginning of a new school […]

Meet the Author Who Outsells Rowling, Dickens and Patterson

AbeBooks has a nice profile of Georgette Heyer, a writer of all kinds of fiction, but most influential as an author of Regency romances.  The profile includes a gallery of covers from her books.

But What I Really Want to do is Direct

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There are lots of great modern romance novels out there. And there are plenty of wonderfully romantic movies. Oddly enough, the latter aren’t usually based on the former (modern romance novels; in this one instance, Jane Austen doesn’t count). Which is not to say there aren’t any at all, but Twilight aside, most of them […]

All That Fairy Tale Nonsense

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One of the many criticisms levelled at romance novels is that they’re a poor model for women when it comes to real-life relationships. All that fairy tale nonsense, detractors say, will make women want the wrong things from their partners. I could list a dozen things wrong with that assumption, but I’ll limit myself to […]

Vive La Difference!

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Britain and France have a long history together. Okay, much of that history consists of having wars with one another. But if you look at the past as a whole, having wars is pretty much what Britain did. First, it fought at home, its various tribes jockeying for position, struggling with invaders, taking over other […]

It Takes Two

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If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that writing is a lonely profession I would (to misquote  Stephen Colbert) have a hell of a lot of hypothetical money.  But phrases don’t become cliches without reason, and the truth is that many writers spend a great deal of their time inside their own […]

Ten To Read

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I always enjoy the ‘Best Of’ lists that come out this time of year.  Seems to me that kind of potted commentary, however limited, offers a great starting place.  So in the spirit of year-end helpfulness, here’s a list of ten romances worth reading.  Historical and modern; sexy and mild:  they run the gamut.  I’m […]

Mary, Queen Of Hearts

Mary Stewart

Despite being a rapacious reader of just about everything, during my formative years I managed to miss any number of writers who are the bedrock of their particular genres. For instance, I read Terry Brooks long before Tolkien (and yes, I’m aware of the gravity of that mistake). I didn’t discover Diana Wynne Jones until […]

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    Tin House has published an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness illustrated by Matt Kish, an interesting follow-up to Kish’s project, Moby-Dick In Pictures; One Drawing For Every Page. See more of Kish’s work here.

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    At Salon, Matt Ashby and Brendan Carroll write about irony and cynicism, sincerity and honesty in art: “At one time, irony served to challenge the establishment; now it is the establishment. The art of irony has turned into ironic art. Irony for irony’s sake. A smart aleck making bomb noises in front of a city in ruins. But irony without a purpose enables cynicism. It stops at disavowal and destruction, fearing strong conviction is a mark of simplicity and delusion.

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    Eastern Kicks has an interview–and a gallery of photos of–director Park Joon-hung.

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    Get ready for a new season of Mad Men with this collection of Absurdist Mad Men promotions, which the Cultural Gutter participates in and even encourages. Duck Phillips rules an undersea advertizing empire and “Pete feels slighted.”

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    Some interesting thoughts on South Korean cinema with “A Dish Best Served Bloody: Revenge In South Korean Cinema” and this Cannes program piece on Arirang (1926) and the history of Korean film.

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    Al-Jazeera America profiles John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, a documentary about Cambodian rock’n’roll and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge. “Until 1975, music thrived in Phnom Penh, with clubs full night after night, crowds gathering in the streets around transistor radios to hear the latest releases, and the biggest stars being feted by the king. Enter the Khmer Rouge, communism and the war on intellectuals. Between 1975 and 1979, about 2 million Cambodians, roughly a third of the population, were rounded up and either were killed or died of starvation. Artists were particularly disliked by the Khmer Rouge, which saw creativity as decadence: Almost all of the biggest names perished during that era.”

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