My daughter is spending the summer literally lost in Mark Z. Danielewski's masterpiece of "ergodic literature" -- a book structured to create a visual and physical experience that involves the reader beyond the level of story. PW called it an "eccentric and sometimes brilliant debut" weaving two stories and an almost unfathomable catacomb of footnotes, typefaces with flipped, tipped, and tangled text. At first blush, it seems to be a horror story. Blind recluse Zampano dies, leaving a script for a film called The Navidson Report. In the Report, Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Will Navidson and his girlfriend move with their two children to a house in Virginia and discover that the interior of the house measures more than its exterior. A closet appears, then a hallway. Explorer Holloway Roberts is called in to mount an expedition with a two-man crew, and they discover a vast stairway and countless hallways leading into a terrifying psychological darkness. Come for the thriller, stay for the elegant prose, and don't feel the need to attempt it in one sitting -- or one summer.
Earlier this week, Colleen and I went to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", the extraordinary movie based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I loved it. Colleen not s'much. (I was sitting there choked in tears at the end of the three hour film, so I only vaguely remember her saying something about "watching paint dry.") I want to see it again, so I'm trying to get the Gare Bear to go with me this weekend, but I won't be surprised if he reacts the same way Colleen did. The movie is long. And odd. It requires patience and a complete suspension of disbelief that modern audiences simply aren't trained for, so you've got to be in the right mood for it. The same is true of the short story, though the story and script have very little in common -- at least superficially. The story is very Fitzgerald (though it's not an example of his best writing, IMHO), and the setting -- Baltimore during the industrial revolution, Spanish Americ