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Showing posts with label Literature. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Literature. Show all posts

Friday, June 12, 2015

Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro talk about genre

Today is a day that is tinged a little with grey.

The husband of a friend passed away early in the morning. I have never met him before. yet I cannot shake away the feeling of melancholy. Their child is very young. So was he.

At night, I received news of screen legend Sir Christopher Lee's passing. He was 93. He had spent more than half a century giving us iconic roles like Count Dracula, and Saruman.

A few weeks earlier, a friend dear to my heart lost her older sister too. When I was with her in Singapore, I struggled to find words to tell her. She looked strong, we laughed through the day, but I wished that was enough to help her momentarily forget her pain.

Recent events are constantly reminding me about the impermanence of life. I do not know what to do, except to just live the moment, I guess.

Just now I had the pleasure of reading a nice article on The New Statesman featuring two literary giants, Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro, talking about the complications of genres, politics of storytelling, and the like.

In an article filled with wonderful quotes, I'm going to highlight a few that I really liked.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Yangsze Choo's THE GHOST BRIDE

Last July, my friend Lydia sent me an article about a US-based Malaysian author Yangsze Choo, whose debut novel THE GHOST BRIDE had just been released.

The author was a family friend from Lydia's childhood.

In the book, its protagonist Li Lan receives a proposal of marriage from the wealthy family of Lim Tian Ching, a young man who died of fever a few months earlier.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Finished Charles Yu's THIRD CLASS SUPERHERO in a day. Loved it.

I bought this book at least 2-3 years ago. (Probably closer to 3 than 2, I am not sure) It was an accident, I was ordering a graphic novel on Amazon, this book was recommended to me, I figured it was another graphic novel (by an Asian American artist? okay!), so I bought it too.

The next day, when the books arrived, I was surprised that Charles Yu's THIRD CLASS SUPERHERO turned out to be a collection of short stories, and not a graphic novel ("whaaat? no pictures?" I whined to myself, becoming a parody of people I despised)

Because I had so many other books to read then, I put it aside. Years passed. It was then left in a box at the corner of a room in Tokyo that I left vacant for ten months. I found it again only a few days ago, in the almost-forgotten box with my almost-forgotten stuff that I left here.

Having spent the entire week working on the music of RIVER OF EXPLODING DURIANS with my composer, I finally got to rest. Yesterday evening I was supposed to go to Ogikubo. A train ride there would take 16 minutes, return trip would be 32 minutes. So I took the book along with me and spent the whole time reading. In that amount of time, I managed to finish 2-3 of the 11 short stories in the book. I was intrigued.

After a night and a day, I finally finished the book. There are some stories that stood out to me:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Finishing Roberto Bolano's THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES in Bali

I discovered Roberto Bolano during my 2007 trip in Chile. That was my first ever trip to a film festival as an invited filmmaker (went there as producer for ELEPHANT AND THE SEA, which was in competition), and also a prelude of the many solo travelings that I would do after that.

My routine in these (film festival) trips has remained mostly the same. When I'm not attending the film festival, I would be taking solitary walks around recommended places, snapping photos, and then taking a break somewhere for food or coffee, in which I would take out a book to read. Otherwise, I would just head into a nearby bookstore to look through the books.

On the day that I was about to leave Santiago, I decided that I had a few hours to kill, so I went to the shopping mall next to my hotel and hung out at the bookshop. A few days earlier, someone had recommended Bolano's works to me, so I was curious to read them. There was a bookshelf full of his works, and I decided to check out his short story collection LAST EVENINGS ON EARTH, because it sounded like a science fiction novel (it really sounded like A. A. Attanasio's underrated sci-fi epic novel THE LAST LEGENDS OF EARTH, right?)

Of course, when I went through the short stories, I realized there was nothing remotely science fictionish about them at all. They were all stories narrated by struggling writers living at the margins. I think I only got through a 2-3 stories before I had to rush to the airport, but he left an impression.

In the few years since then, I have bought 2666 at a bookshop in Roppongi, which I have yet to read because I wanted to read THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES first.

I started THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES early last year. I went through the first section (book is divided into 3 sections) very swiftly. It's narrated by a 17-year-old aspiring poet named Juan Garcia Madero and chronicles his encounters with a group of poets who call themselves the "Visceral Realists", and also his string of love affairs.

The second section (which is two thirds of the novel's entire length) is a sudden shift in style and is the centerpiece of the novel. Spanning twenty years with dozens of narrators, it is a series of interviews with people (around the world) who had contact with the two leaders of the Visceral Realists, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima. The book becomes as much about the two as it is about the narrators, and also the time and place around them.

Due to the density of the novel, and also because the novel I read before this was Gao Xingjian's SOUL MOUNTAIN, I was too mentally exhausted. So I took a break from it after reaching the 200 page-mark. That was around May 2013.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Mieko Kanai 金井美恵子

You might not have heard of the Japanese writer Mieko Kanai (金井美恵子), but she wrote the short story "The Moon" that inspired my short film "LAST FRAGMENTS OF WINTER".

I stumbled upon her works by accident. It was September 2010. My uncle (father's younger brother) passed away suddenly, my parents, who were in Tokyo with me for my graduation ceremony, had to fly back to Malaysia immediately.

I was left alone in the hotel that my parents were supposed to stay for a few more days. Overwhelmed by solitude, I went to my favourite Aoyama Book Center in Roppongi, hoping to distract my mind with literature.

Going through the shelf, "THE WORD BOOK" by Mieko Kanai, a collection of her short stories, caught my eye. Maybe it was the cover. THE WORD BOOK came out in the 70s, but it only just got translated into English that year.

THE WORD BOOK by Mieko Kanai

I flipped through the book, went through some stories, and found myself captivated by the imagery of her dream-like tales. I didn't buy the book immediately, but her words lingered. (I bought the book a few days later on Amazon)

This is the opening paragraph of "The Moon":

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

On Borges, Eco, Calvino, Marquez... and McDull

I never forgave my secondary school for banning us from bringing novels to school. That is why I constantly speak about it.

Back then, unable to accept such a rule, I occasionally brought a book to school for some reading pleasure. Alas, the school prefects deemed me, a guy who was just sitting at the corner, quietly reading a book, a threat to school safety, thus my books were sometimes confiscated.

I had to write eloquent letters to the prefects just so I could get them back.

That is why, in some of my angry rants over the years, I couldn't stop blaming the local education system for not emphasizing the importance of literature and culture to its students, that we lived merely to score well academically, that our education was more on learning how to deal with exams, instead of preparing us properly to contribute to society. That our country is full of highly-educated folks who don't give a crap about literature.

Many years ago, back in Perth, Justin (who used to contribute to this blog but had since became a published novelist himself) once said this:

"I cannot imagine anyone not picking up a novel in their entire life. What sort of existence is that?"

I shrugged. "A typical Malaysian."

Being in love with literature is just as lonely as being passionate about films. Or maybe a little more so. At least most Joe Blows do go to cinemas for films as some social exercise. Any attempt to have a meaningful or deep discussion about the film will be futile. People will look at me as if I had farted loudly in a funeral.

Because they rarely happen, being able to go into in-depth discussions about films, filmmakers, or literary works, authors, can be a very pleasurable experience. Perhaps that is why I am often on Facebook and Twitter. Or why I often surf film websites and go through the comments section. Just to find and read about discussions that I can never seem to have in real life.

(Perhaps if I were a banker, I wouldn't have to deal with such a dilemma, no?)

Yesterday, Maggie Lee, film critic of Variety, tweeted this link to a book review:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Burn after reading... Salman Rushdie's MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children

I got myself this book two years ago in Perth. Not through purchase, but by forcing Justin to swap his MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN with my THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN (by John Fowles). It was a fair trade. He didn't like magical realism, while I do, and he ended up enjoying the latter immensely anyway.

But this isn't exactly a book review, just a quick note on how I felt after finishing Salman Rushdie's MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN yesterday afternoon. It didn't really take me that long to finish the book, really. I picked it up during my two weeks in Malaysia earlier this month, read through chunks of it on certain days in the LRT, then more as I flew back to Tokyo. Because the in-flight entertainment was down throughout half of my journey and I couldn't watch any films on the plane except THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, I spent most of the time reading instead.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Umberto Eco - The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

Compared to previous years, I don't think I've been able to read as much as before, some books took me months to finish (Neal Stephenson's CRYPTONOMICON, which I admired, but didn't think was as good as SNOW CRASH), while some took me only two or three days (David Mitchell's GHOSTWRITTEN, awesome book) or mere hours (Haruki Murakami's AFTER DARK, which I mentioned here).

So I felt some sense of accomplishment after actually completing Hemingway's SUN ALSO RISES and Umberto Eco's THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME OF QUEEN LOANA in consecutive days last week. (I was reading the latter first, but felt that it was too dense, so borrowed the lighter SUN ALSO RISES from Ming Jin to read instead)

(Note that this is not really a review, but more of me chronicling some thoughts while reading the book.)

The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana

THE MYSTERIOUS FLAME OF QUEEN LOANA is said to be Umberto Eco's last novel, and was the second novel I read from the Italian writer (THE NAME OF THE ROSE was my first).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Serious Literary Fiction about Idols

I need help.

I am writing a serious literary work about idols and wota.

Someone please tell me suggestions for things they want to see in this.

This is not a joke, I am a published author.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Great Photo of Mishima

Incredible photo showing his style, along with the current mayor of Tokyo.

Also check this:

His English is unfortunately camp, but look at his smile while he talks and notice the massive contempt and disgust for everything showing through. Beautiful.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Defending Fanfiction. Was It Worth It?

More than a year ago, I posted an entry called 'In Defense of Fanfiction'. Earlier on the day it was written, Swifty sent me a link to an article by fantasy writer Robin Hobb - someone I knew of but had never read, my interest in American fantasy-genre fiction being comparatively low. The Hobb essay, which attacked fanfiction and its writers on principle, seemed distinctly petty, childish, and reactionary - in need of a good thrashing, in other words. Although I didn't hold any particular interest in fanfiction at the time, neither reading nor writing it, the Hobb essay seemed to be opposed to not only fanfiction but, more broadly, creativity in general. So without even really thinking I tore through a rebuttal, easily demolishing the numerous straw-men and outright fallacies Hobb had put forth. I posted it and then proceeded to think nothing more of it: seeing as it was written in less than fifteen minutes and our readership at the time was probably less than a hundred people, I expected it to be quickly forgotten.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

An Interview With Quentin S. Crisp

Quentin S Crisp

I've talked about Quentin S. Crisp before - he's one of my favorite living writers. His 'demented fiction' is unrivalled for its poetic quality and general, um, dementedness, and I suspect it won't be long before he has a major mainstream breakthrough - not that there's anything particularly 'mainstream' about him, but his stories and novels are certainly of world-class quality. Anyway, I sat down with him recently to discuss his writing, his favorite films, pop music, the meaning of Mishima's death, the real reason why most people study Japanese, and other relevant topics. Suffice it to say that this is probably the most important thing I have yet posted to this site, and it certainly touches on more or less everything Swifty and I have put up here at some point. It is thus mandatory reading. Apart from that, it's probably the last substantial thing I'll post for a while, time constraints being what they are. Read on and learn more...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Quentin S. Crisp - Rule Dementia!

Quentin S. Crisp is a British writer who ostensibly produces horror or 'weird' fiction, but I don't really care about either of those genres or whether Crisp conforms to them. The reason his writing interests me is because of the personality and worldview underlying it, and the way the language of his fiction conveys them. Crisp has described his own writing as 'demented fiction', but I approached it the same I would any novel, not particularly worrying about the genre.

This is not to suggest Crisp's work isn't often horrific, though, because it is. Mainstream fiction, such as the numerous tedious novels dealing either directly or tangentially with 9/11, admits existential horror and aimlessness only through a kind of trapdoor designed to regulate their impact: things may look bad for a time, but there is always faith, hope, love, the human spirit, conventional middle-class values, etc. to be salvaged at the end. This kind of 'salvaging' goes back as far as something like Conrad, whose Heart of Darkness presented a vision of mindless, insectile oppression but still came down on the side of England and protected innocence. The legacy of this approach can be seen in most current prize-winning novels.

But in Quentin S. Crisp's fiction, much like that of Pierre Guyotat and H.P. Lovecraft, the meaninglessness of the universe is neither a conclusion to be reached nor a straw-man to be attacked; instead it forms the basic kernel of the narrative on which everything else rests. In short, he doesn't discover that the universe is blind and amoral, he begins from there. Through hard experience, his protagonists have come to expect little; they are often nervous, introverted, and subtly wounded. They're frequently nostalgic for a half-remembered past or childhood idyll, but are deeply suspicious and ambivalent about 'normal' human interaction - friendships are often tenuous, romantic and sexual contact is more an ordeal than a pleasure, and family members remain as elusive as the past they seem to represent. If all this sounds too bleak, though, Crisp also displays a sense of humor, although a sense of absurdity would perhaps be a better term for it. The stories in his third book Rule Dementia!, like 'Jellyfish Joe' and 'The Haunted Bicycle', are replete with off-kilter, surreal humor that isn't easy to separate from the more serious content (if such a separation is possible at all).

Crisp's prose style is dense, eloquent, and occasionally florid. He doesn't write the kind of disposable, conversational instant-messager prose style now commonplace; neither does he limit himself to suggestive understatement. There is little dialogue and much reflection; often several pages go by without anyone speaking. This creates a tense, dreamlike atmosphere of consumptive prose: finishing one of these stories (most of them quite long, verging on novellas) feels as much like surfacing from a black pool as it does turning pages. And the stories are often subtly complex in structure, with several containing 'nested' narratives (a literal message-in-a-bottle in 'The Waiting'; journal entries and pamphlets in 'The Tao of Petite Beige'; old letters in 'The Haunted Bicycle'), author introductions, and italic preludes. These devices are less metafiction than they are an evocation of old-style epistolary conceits and formats, present in the earliest of novels and long a staple of horror fiction.

'Jellyfish Joe' opens the collection with the aforementioned humor, concerning a makeshift religion predicated on string vests, bowler hats, and jellyfish. This story is quite different from the rest in the collection, and hints at an almost Monty Python-esque sensibility simmering beneath the surface of Crisp's dark worldview. The eponymous Joe is a kind of fake mystic or charlatan, but his insights into the nature of being and nothingness are conceivably as valid as a more 'serious' religious figure's would be - an insight any Zen fans will be liable to appreciate. This story seems the closest out of any in the collection to suggesting that the absurdity of the universe can be a source of joy and freedom as well as horror. Although I don't know if Crisp has read them or not, this story seems vaguely influenced by Discordianism and R.A. Wilson, or at least sympathetic to them (that's a good thing).

With 'The Haunted Bicycle', Rule Dementia! hits an early peak. This novella is impossible to describe succinctly, due in part to its experimental structure - a kind of picaresque loosely accreting detail - but it most fully demonstrates the range of possibility in Crisp's writing. It begins with an autobiographical introduction, in which Crisp reserves "the right to tell bare-faced lies at any point in this story, in this disclaimer and in life generally, especially to those I owe money." What follows is an account of the narrator's time with his friend Les, as their private jokes about earwigs, mackerel, and ginger-haired women assume the proportions of an absurdist conspiracy. As the narrative progresses in increments, it seems to mirror the process of creating fiction itself, in that random elements and conversations inspire previously unthought-of connections, until a kind of associative mania threatens to contaminate everything. Repeated motifs form their own internal logic and consistency, dreams and reality become indistinguishable, until the whole thing takes on an alternately frightening and laughable urgency, between which Crisp inserts some of his best character development. The conspiracy and the haunted bicycle itself are MacGuffins; the real weight of the story is the incidental scenes of the narrator and Les watching television, drinking tea, and exploring the countryside, two unemployed friends making the best of their time:

Watching Lassie is like going into a coma, falling under a spell of utter and perfect tedium. So we were slack-jawed, occasionally dunking our digestives, until there came the inevitable point in the water torture that passed for a script where Lassie barked at a group of human co-stars and one of them said, 'I think she's trying to tell us something. I think she wants us to follow her.'

Although the gender of the characters is obviously different, 'The Haunted Bicycle' almost reminds me of the film Heavenly Creatures in its depiction of two friends experiencing or giving rise to a private imaginative universe.

The next story, 'Zugzwang', contains shades of Lovecraft's 'The Music of Erich Zann', but soon veers off in its own direction. Proceeding from the fairly conventional setup of a meeting in a bar, the story soon assumes an oppressive atmosphere of suspicion and terror, as the cello-playing, paranoid and possibly schizophrenic protagonist hears secret, inhuman voices emanating from his girlfriend and mother. The atmosphere of hopelessness is difficult to describe, but conveys an almost primal disgust and terror at existence.

'The Tao of Petite Beige' is another highlight, possibly the best story in the collection. This is a classic-style 'weird tale' with a strong narrative and great descriptions. Crisp's prose can occasionally be over-indulgent or excessively, wanderingly introspective, but here it stays on track. It concerns Paul, an English expatriate in Taiwan, who becomes ensnared in both his own dreams and a cult of the goddess Guan Yin. This story is so good it almost feels timeless, easily capable of standing up to the works of Blackwood, Machen, Lovecraft, or Poe. You can almost imagine it being made into a Ringu-style (or The Wicker Man - the original, of course) horror movie as well, and believe it or not, I intend that as a compliment. The pacing is tight, there's plenty of compelling description, and the ending is both fatalistic and completely appropriate. Its themes are varied and interrelated: the danger of depending on fantasy relationships, the perils of exoticizing cultures, the subterranean persistence of folk religions (a very Machen/Blackwood-esque theme), the conflicts of asceticism vs indulgence, etc. Crisp makes the most of the dreamlike imagery, as well as throwing in references to Bettie Page, Thelema, pop art, and more. There's tons of great writing:

And if there is so much power in an obscure phrase such as that, what about a common and time-honoured word like 'girl'? The hard 'g' dangles its legs out of the skirts of the word. The 'ir' in the middle is full of fuzz and bubbles. Then comes the clean, virginal 'l' at the end.

'The Waiting' is another horror story, one that perhaps borrows a motif from some of Thomas Ligotti's 'corporate horror' - it's set in a bank, for one thing. It'd also seem to be the most openly Lovecraftian thing here, what with names like 'Yxthahl' and 'Pnath', but Crisp makes it all his own. The protagonist discovers that his murderous supervisor is capable of leaving the universe at will and travelling to a kind of arcane external universe. As the narrative progresses, the protagonist finds himself able to rely on less and less, to the extent where the past itself, entire individuals and memories are deleted from 'Outside'. The sense of dislocation and hopelessness becomes truly suffocating, mirroring the protagonist's frequent trips into the outer-world of featureless black corridors which seem to extend forever. This story feels like wading through a nightmare, with a sense of palpable suffocation through the worldview it presents: there exists the prospect of hermetic advancement, a kind of parallel to climbing the corporate ladder, but there is no reward or God at the top, just endless, amoral level-building: the metaverse as first-person shooter.

The last story, 'Unimaginable Joys', focuses on a lament for a vanished world of the mind. Difficult to say much about this one without giving it away, but it contains lots of evocative prose and a great ending.

"First, look around you."
She does as instructed.
"What's missing?"
"I don't know. Nothing that I noticed."
"Are you sure?"
"You think this is enough for your needs?"
"This cafe?"
"Well, not just this cafe - the world."
"Well, yes, isn't it enough?"
"No. No, it's not enough. It's not even a start. It's nothing."

You owe it to yourself to go here and buy Rule Dementia!, because you've probably wasted a lot of time reading generic or average books, and this is not one of them. I'll say it again: these stories being 'horror' is the least interesting thing about them. This is not mainstream genre fiction's simplistic good v.s. evil, vampires and werewolves horror, neither is it the sloppily written, gore-filled other end of the spectrum. Crisp's writing is more about atmosphere, mindset, and emotion than it is about monsters or plot mechanics. Quentin S. Crisp will undoubtedly become huge before long, so check him out before that happens.

Incidentally, I'm essentially retiring from book reviews here - I'll probably keep up with the music updates, but I just don't have the time anymore to go into depth about written works. This is because I will soon be returning to Japan for a year or so, to study and teach. Traditional sights like temples and shrines will be ignored. Video games, anime, and idol music will also be ignored. The only thing that will not be ignored is gyaru.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Craig Reviews Junichi Tanizaki's Naomi

On my recommendation, Craig of Your Opinion Doesn't Count has just read and provided a three-part review of Tanizaki's Naomi, analogizing the novel to the idol world. His interpretation is highly original and provocative, and there's definitely some kind of graduate-paper potential in there somewhere about idol-continuity in Japanese culture over the course of the twentieth century. Was Tanizaki a proto-wota?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Junichiro Tanizaki - Seven Japanese Tales

"Here, the exploration...leads into a tangle of relationships as bizarre and unhealthy as those of Tanizaki's earlier novel, The Key,"
-from the introduction by translator Howard Hibbett

"Unhealthy" is an apt word to describe the fictional world of Jun'ichiro Tanizaki. Although now accepted as a pillar of modern Japanese literature largely on the basis of his re-translation of Genji and the sprawling novel The Makioka Sisters, Tanizaki's early work was better known for its aesthetic obsessions and outre subject matter - a typical Tanizaki story would concern something like stealing a girl's used handkerchief and licking it, or the joys of prostitution in China (John Updike memorably called him 'the most masculine writer of the 20th century'). Compared to Mishima, who dealt with characters at least as fucked up, Tanizaki's protagonists are far less self-conscious, less guilty or conflicted - where a Mishima character would analyze their neuroses in a dense psychological monologue, a Tanizaki protagonist is usually enjoying himself too much to be at all reflective.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yasunari Kawabata - The Master of Go

Yasunari Kawabata is a writer I admire immensely. Although perhaps slightly limited in his range of themes and stories, he has a truly world-class sense of technical perfection and stylistic beauty, and the best of his novels and stories (Snow Country and Beauty and Sadness are my favorites, with the excellent Palm of the Hand Stories perhaps being his masterwork) are so satisfying and haunting as to make him unquestionably deserving of his Nobel Prize. Someone (can't remember the source) compared reading a Kurt Vonnegut book to eating an ice cream cone, and if that's true, then a Kawabata book is more like a high-quality Italian gelato - cold, perhaps, but exquisite, and best when served in small portions. At one point I pretty much blindly accepted him as a god; and while after much consideration I've decided Mishima at least equals him, he's still up there for me as one of the masters.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

D.B. Weiss - Lucky Wander Boy

I picked up Lucky Wander Boy (Swifty: Official website of the book here) on a recent trip, mainly on the strength of its premise but without any real expectations, since the book is about, among other things, video games. A 'gaming novel' is not a prospect that would seem especially earmarked for greatness, and so D.B. Weiss's debut came as a welcome surprise: while perhaps not great in any real sense, this is certainly a very good book*, with more-than-capable prose and much trenchant humor.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yukio Mishima - The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea

I can't be bothered to review this in any real depth, so I'll just excerpt parts of it and laugh at them. Much like the previous review, you're pretty much aboard the train at this point or you're not. Despite overseas acclaim (it was even made into an English movie starring Kris Kristofferson...what the fuck?), this novel, about a doomed romance between a sailor and a widow offset by evil kids, probably isn't one of Mishima's major works. It feels almost like a novella or really long short story, something that could have gone in one of the collections Acts of Worship or Death in Midsummer (discussed here)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Short Fiction of Yukio Mishima

Mishima is a writer associated with scale and grand gestures. Apart from his colorful life and the obviously theatrical nature of his public suicide, his novels are full of, to put it bluntly, action - in a 'literary fiction' genre often filled with tepid introspection and obsessive minimalism, that Mishima's books are full of swordfighting, arson, suicide, and desperate tragedy is definitely part of his appeal. Although his writing is capable of great subtlety, restraint, and delicate beauty, these qualities usually form one half of a chiaroscuric contrast, shadowing the dense psychological monologues and eruptions of violence.