Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold, and I’m stuck at home for the most part, like most people hereabouts. Cabin fever threatens to take over, so I’ve decided that, for as long as I’m able, I will try to contribute something positive by starting a series of “daily culture suggestions”.
How this works: every day, I will write a quick blog post suggesting one book, one film, and one music album that I have enjoyed, and I think you may, too. The only rule? They all should revolve around similar themes, or convey a similar atmosphere.
If anyone feels like turning this into a game of tag of sorts, please do, and share a link in the comments. I would love to see more suggestions for books, films, and music myself!
That being said… Here we go! Day 1: Modern Gothic.
Book: Isak Dinesen, Seven Gothic Tales
This is a collection of stories written by Isak Dinesen (pen-name of Danish writer Karen Blixen) in 1934. The stories are intricate, each boasting several plotlines that come together to form a perfect tapestry of the story’s microcosm at the very end. They are suspenseful, poetic, and a bit dark, like an exquisite slice of sachertorte.
Here’s a delightful article Margaret Atwood wrote about Isak Dinesen for The Guardian.
You can read the book for free on archive.org.
Film: The Thirteenth Tale
This is a film from 2013 that was directed by James Kent. It is based on the novel of the same name by Diane Setterfield, which was published in 2006 (and which I haven’t read). The film tells the story of an aged, dying, and rather unfriendly old writer, who recounts the tale of her life to a reluctant biographer she has hired for this very purpose. “Do you believe in ghosts?” the writer asks the biographer at the start of the film. But the the question at the core of this story is actually: “What are the real ghosts?”
I love that, in this film, the threat of supernatural intervention is powerfully undercut by the threat of human malice, misery, and disease.
You can watch it on Amazon Prime.
Music album: The Pierces, Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge
This album was released in 2007, and it is a delightful mix of indie rock/folk/pop songs, some of which are darkly humorous, some of which are aggressively passionate, and some of which are pleasingly melancholy.
You can listen to this album for free on last.fm.