Writer’s Desk: Try Anything

Sometimes you just cannot get started. It all feels wrong. You have a story, a poem, a whole book even, inside you. But it won’t come out.

Don DeLillo was once asked by writer Kae Tempest about the accrual of a certain kind of detail:

In your novels, there is a noticing of the everyday that is so perfectly, so tunefully described that something very usual becomes eerie, oppressive. For example, there’s a line from White Noise where you write ‘On telephone poles all over town there are homemade signs concerning lost dogs and cats, often in the handwriting of a child.’ Which is such a beautiful and usual thing to see, but to suddenly be reminded of it in fiction …

DeLillo tells Tempest where that came from:

I was desperate to begin a novel at that point. I guess it was 1982 or 1983. A long time had passed and I wanted to get back to work. And I just started describing streets and signs on poles. I started noticing them, they were always there, but I not only noticed them, I looked at them, thought about them and thought about the people involved. And that’s how White Noise got started…

It can be that simple. Write whatever you can. Get it down in just the right kind of detail. Keep going. Repeat.

Eventually the story will make itself known.

New on DVD: ‘Cosmopolis’

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We can complain all we want about the lack of exciting new visions in mainstream cinema, but then when one does come along, it’s all too often ignored. Case in point: David Cronenberg’s full-bore millennial freakout adaptation of Don DeLillo’s semi-apocalyptic Cosmopolis:

After a few years working in genres like the gangster film (Eastern Promises) and the art-house period piece (A Dangerous Method) threatened to turn him into a respectable filmmaker, David Cronenberg thankfully returns to the perverse, literary artistry of more contentious works like Crash with this abstract, pitch-black comedy. For all its artificial mannerisms, though, Cosmopolis isn’t one of the director’s more abstruse and off-putting works; this is a sleek, seductive construction. The concoction of high-end theorizing on the state of the world, finance and the social sphere mixed with deadpan satire, in addition to the expected jabs of rough sex and ultra-violence, is a highly effective one for audiences willing to go along (ahem) for the ride…

On a relatively quiet week for home-viewing releases, Cosmopolis is available today on both DVD and Blu-ray; check it out.

My full review is at Film Journal International.

You can see the trailer here:

New in Theaters: ‘Cosmopolis’

Adapted by David Cronenberg from Don DeLillo’s prescient 2003 novel, Cosmopolis is set in a fantastical New York of the present or near-future, a nebulous universe that feels like a recent William Gibson novel—this might be the future, but it’s barely five minutes hence. Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a 28-year-old wizard of some species of speculative, quantitative finance who has made his billions and now can’t seem to wait to set his entire universe on fire. He drifts through the city in a white limo that looks outside like all the others, but inside is a fully wired and soundproof command center that keeps him wired to his empire while sitting in traffic on the way to get a haircut…

The deadpan, crazed Cosmpolis opens tomorrow in limited release; seek it out when it comes to your town, there’s nothing else like it.

My full review is at Film Journal International.

The trailer is here: