October 19, 2009


It's been busy here, but I have managed to read a couple of books, since my last post on the subject.

The last book I read was Spiral Jetta, a memoir/scholarly book of a journey out west to visit and contemplate earthworks such as Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, Walter de Maria's The Lightning Field, and Donald Judd's work at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas. While the book was interesting from an art and art history perspective, the book was just kind of dry. I didn't really relate to author Erin Hogan's personality. She's a little uptight, a stereotypical art historian/librarian type stuck behind a desk in a white gloved world. Maybe that's too harsh... She did some of the trip alone, and stated that she set out to challenge herself. I just didn't really see her journey as that much of a human challenge. It seemed that she hadn't really done enough living before the experience, almost like her journey was for the purpose of writing this book. She went to the art works, and was constantly discontented. Site after site, work after work, this seemed to be the case. All I could think was, "we should all be so lucky." The times when she did find herself in colorful local watering holes , or lost, she definitely drew lines, distancing herself from her experience with her words. It was disappointing. I did learn a lot from this read, but nothing more than I could have found in the library or visiting these works for myself ~ which I still hope to do someday. Definitely.
Anyway, I was happy for the read, but also disappointed. Here is a NYTimes review, and a review from The New Yorker. If you have read it, let me know what you think.

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi was a book that I bought it here in Leuven at fnac. I was hungry for a good book. I have been wanting to read this book since its release as an animated film in 2007. I ravished it, I finished it in three days. I thought that was a long time, considering that it's a graphic novel, but the read was so interesting. Visually, the drawings juxtaposed are so simple yet complex at the same time. I learned something with each page, and related to Satrapi's coming of age story more than I initially thought I would. I knew nothing of the conflict in Iran, and it was enthralling to read Satrapi's perspective of the events.
I loved her illustrations, and the fact that she combines two of my favorite subjects: art and literature.

My Current Reads

I picked up this kid's encyclopedia at the Saturday market here in Leuven. I paid 2 Euro for it, and I LOVE it. The illustrations are wonderfully classic, executed in a manner only 1965 could appreciate.
Another fantastic example of art and literature combined, except this is more educational. It's a fun way to learn Dutch, not to mention colorful:

And finally, a FICTION novel!
I can't tell you how long it has been since I have read a piece of fiction. That's the thing about graduate school: it puts a damper on your luxury reading. I read so many articles about theory, practice and foundations that I wasn't sure I could enjoy or appreciate a work of fiction. The fictional works that I do enjoy have a memoir quality to them. Anyway, since I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo next month, I thought I'd better read an example of fiction. It's been ages since I've read fiction, and I did not bring one fiction book with me from Texas.

I found this book, Getting Back Brahms by Mavis Cheek, at Spit in the tiny, two shelf English language section. The back jacket summary was interesting: the main character Diane is broken hearted and is nursing herself with a project... And I do love projects! The price was right = 1,30 Euro, so I got it. Ms. Cheek is a writer from the UK, and even though this is written in English, there are so many paragraphs that I have to go back and re-read. There are words and expressions I don't know, because it's written in a vernacular that I don't quite understand... and English is my first language! So far it seems to be a fun read... fluffy.

It's been two years since I completed my MA, I think I can handle fluff now.

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