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Monthly Archives: August 2009

The Ring of the Nibelung, ranked act by act (Part 4 of 4)

Previously: ranks 6 through 4 3. Götterdämmerung, Act Two. Once we’ve finally gotten Act One out of the way, Götterdämmerung is awesome. Here we start with a superbly creepy Alberich/Hagen duet, then the music expands gloriously as the day breaks, Hagen’s super-powerful menacing hoi-hos summon, what’s this, an honest-to-goodness chorus, who intone the beautifully simple […]

The Ring of the Nibelung, ranked act by act (Part 3 of 4)

Previously: ranks 9 through 7 6. Siegfried, Act One. Probably the act for which my opinion most greatly exceeds the general consensus. Maybe people aren’t big fans because the hero, Siegfried himself, is kind of a fratboy asshole, and Mime is perceived as a nasty Jewish stereotype. Leaving aside the question of how intentional either […]

The Ring of the Nibelung, ranked act by act (Part 2 of 4)

Previously: ranks 13 through 10 9. Die Walküre, Act Two. I know, it’s the emotional center of the entire cycle. And I actually like Wotan’s monologue fine. But it’s just too long to enjoy (as you may have noticed, this is a recurring issue with me). By the time Wotan has dictated his instructions to […]

The Ring of the Nibelung, ranked act by act (Part 1 of 4)

I am a sucker for ranking things, especially artistic things. I know that it goes against everything art stands for, but as long as you don’t treat it as a search for objective truth, but rather as a tool to help collect your thoughts about a variety of works, it can be a lot of […]

Thomas Pynchon: Inherent Vice

Remember when it wasn’t clear if Pynchon was ever going to write another book after Gravity’s Rainbow? Now he’s practically churning them out. The mammoth Against The Day was just published a couple of years ago, and now here’s Inherent Vice, which is — well, I guess you’d call it a hard-boiled detective novel, except […]

Daniel Abraham: A Shadow in Summer, A Betrayal in Winter

These are the first two books of Abraham’s fantasy series The Long Price Quartet; the final one was just published last month. They are technically fantasy, as I said, but it’s more fantasy in the style of Guy Gavriel Kay; they’re normal human character-driven stories set in a vaguely Asian-style culture that doesn’t happen to […]

William T. Vollmann: Europe Central

I have an ambivalent relationship with William Vollmann. His first book, You Bright and Risen Angels, was a glorious spewfest, so unrestrained in its messiness that the “transcendental” table of contents was overflowing with promises of later chapters that the actual novel never even got to. After that he kept the logorrhea but dialed back […]