Jump, dive, leap into your 2008 New Year's resolution to listen more attentively to the creative muse chiming in the back of your head. With the New Year come new gallery shows, new theater company seasons and opportunities for new artists to come out of hiding ... like these:
These days, polite people feel guilty about the natural human tendency to stare at other people with physical deformities or quirks. Jump back a hundred years, though, and it’s an entirely different story. Back then, gawking at so-called “freaks” wasn’t just socially acceptable, it was good, wholesome family entertainment. Well, maybe not wholesome per se, but folks certainly didn’t feel bad about it, paying good money for the chance to see human oddities up close and in the flesh.
There are short stories that feel like tales and others that feel like fiction. Then there’s the kind of work Nadine Gordimer has been publishing for nearly 70 years—which is best described as a weather system. Her voice travels across the page, darkening certain regions, changing the barometric pressure in others, and then, just as quickly as the voice arrived, it moves on, leaving you with the memory of an occurrence so vivid and yet ephemeral it takes on the lived quality of real experience.
Having written one perfect novel, Disgrace, and several others that can easily be read annually without blunting their spell, prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee seems to have decided to spend his remaining years poking and prodding the limits of his form. Elizabeth Costello came in the shape of essays delivered by an aging writer. Slow Man was a perfectly functional story, until Elizabeth Costello elbowed in (with a recurring character appearance) and called the whole enterprise her own. Now, with Diary of a Bad Year, Coetzee has fractured a novel into three discrete parts that allow the audience to choose how to read it.