This is Steve Cavins and these are his good things.
What are some good things you’ve read?
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I read a little of this in college, but finally got through the thing over the summer. It completely demystifies the concept of war in a way that I’ve not really experienced, in that, yes, it’s got this Vietnam narrative going on in which we basically are able to tidily organize history between these battles, but in that we are able to immortalize ourselves in the subjectivity of stories, which may or may not even be truthful. He says never to believe a war story with a moral, because there is no moral in a war story. I think that probably goes for any kind of story.
2666 Roberto Bolano. Totally strange, creepy, sad, and violent. Bolano pivots his universe on a “fictional” border town between the U.S. and Mexico where women are being routinely killed with no end in sight. The story weaves through time and space somewhat chaotically, but never without style or a sense of purpose. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit here: economic imbalance, political corruption, and class isolation, but Bolano seems to merely shrug his shoulders and lift these things up to some sort of spiritual mysticism that transcends logical explanation.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This sort of thing hits a sweet spot for me: New England private college, murder mystery, privileged academics. These students live in this cocoon-like world and find refuge and meaning in esoteric subjects, never ceasing in the desire to lap each other intellectually, and yet totally failing the most basic or trivial exercises of whatever might be considered Normal Life. Of course, the thing is as bleak as it sounds, and really offers nothing of a way out for these characters or this type of living.”
What are some good things you’ve watched?
It seems to be a great time for television at the moment. I’ve nearly completed The Wire, and obviously have much admiration for Breaking Bad. The length that a series affords really allows you to go deep into a subject, which makes a 90-minute film seem utterly futile (and often times, it probably is.) But I should probably toss a film in here. We Need to Talk About Kevin stuck out to me as an interesting, sad, fractured thing that (cliche) had me thinking about it for weeks. It’s true, Tilda Swinton probably walks out of the sea whenever she is beckoned to perform. Bless.
What are some good things you use?
I’m a terrible consumer. Really anti-American when it comes to this department. I’m often so gutted by the prospect of adding anything to my life in way of material objects, in that I must turn the thing over and over again in my head, attempt to talk my way out of the purchase, and see if the need persists. When I moved to New York, I pretty much threw away everything I owned. I recently purchased a kitchen table after two years of eating on the couch. I’ve had a Kindle for about a year now and the thing is totally useful for a train commute. Oh, and my mother gave me an industrial clothes wardrobe to hang my clothes on. Closet space is awfully limited in my apartment, and I no longer have to hang my shirts on the upper molding of the wall.