Archive for the ‘AmStuff’ Category


Just spent a satisfyingly idle hour on Flickr looking at a slideshow of one photographer’s work. He clearly loves America – classic cars, people and buildings; lots of sheds! To the question “How do they get those cars so clean?” the only answer must be time and effort. Which is probably what lies behind everything worthwhile really. Yes, those cars are worthwhile in my book. Whole slideshow takes me back to my trips in April ’88 and June ’02. Nostalgia is what it used to be. Thanks Marty.

So Borders the bookshop chain is closing down. The branch in Brighton was heaving this weekend with bargain-hunters like me looking for the best stuff on which to apply their 40% sale discount. Settled on The Family Mashber by Der Nister, a collection of Tobias Wolff‘s stories called Our Story Begins and a Lonely Planet City Guide to Chicago. Hoping to go there sometime before the end of the decade. Only ever flown into and out of the airport. Been to New York, Syracuse, Memphis, San Francisco, Portland Oregon, Seattle, Vancouver, Lancaster County and State College Pennsylvania, Cape Cod, Oxford Mississippi, Asheville NC, Appomattox, Montreal, Toronto and many other interesting parts of  North America – nothing against Chicago, just ain’t got round to it yet.   Been interested in ‘Border Studies’ since doing a Diploma in HE in American Studies at Staffordshire University back in the 1990s. Wrote an essay then on the clash of cultures around the Mexico – USA highly porous border. Wonder if I still have it somewhere? I thought it was quite good at the time.  (American Studies was closed down at Staffordshire Uni several years ago).  Posted a comment on Jeff Newberry’s Muse of Fire blog mentioning The Work of Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction. He lives in Georgia, USA. A bit of border crossing going on there, indeed. What’s a border on the internet? And then there’s Cormac McCarthy’s western novels, from Blood Meridian to No Country for Old Men.

After rather miserably finishing off our look at The Waste Land this Thursday, it was good to move swiftly on to My Antonia by Willa Cather. What a great book, we are already with Jim Burden arriving after a few lines  at the remote railway station of Black Hawk and off into the lives of the immigrants to Nebraska. Antonia is an unforgettable woman; the writing is unforgettable and passes my test of taking your breath away every so often. After a reading of any of this book I always want to, and often do, go to the DVD of Michael Cimino‘s Heaven’s Gate and watch again all the scenes of the Bohemian immigrants, their struggles, their fun times and their magnificent battle with the landowner’s hired army.  The film has had a poor reputation which is still only partly improved with time, but I love it for its many aspects of good film making and, of course, it takes me, like My Antonia, to a part of America I have yet to see for real. It’s set in Wyoming not Nebraska, but that doesn’t matter. What’s not to like about Kris Kristofferson, Isabelle Huppert, Christopher Walken  and Jeff Bridges; and it even has T-Bone Burnett running the band at the roller-skate dance. And it’s a very ‘brown’ film which is what my son calls all the movies I like. His book has been reviewed from one Marxist perspective.

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