Sunday, August 16, 2015


Lately I’ve been swept up, as have many others, in the general, sudden excitement about the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector.  Well, swept up enough to enough to read a few of her short stories anyhow.

This from Larry Rohter in the New York Times: “Her work is filled with an existential dread — what she calls in one of these stories living ‘without anesthesia the terror of being alive’ — as well as characters who are ‘unhinged and fragile.’ She often meditates on death or addresses an unsympathetic God: ‘I know how to die. I have been dying since I was little. And it hurts but we pretend it doesn’t.’”

As I say, I haven’t read the complete works, but from I have read it seems that food plays quite a part in Lispector’s writing.  One of her novels is titled The Apple in The Dark, and another The Passion According to G.H  features a central character who eats a cockroach.

Among the short stories, I’ve read “Happy Birthday” which features a party for a vicious, though utterly likable, 89 year old woman.  The guests at sandwiches, cake and croquettes - I liked the sound of the croquettes – but the birthday girl hates the whole thing and looks at her relatives, “vacant and expectant, with amiable smiles, stomachs full of that junk that didn’t nourish but got rid of hunger.”
However, my favorite Lispector story (so far) is titled “The Hen,” about a hen that’s brought into the house to be slaughtered for Sunday dinner.  On the Saturday she lays an egg and is reprieved but only briefly, “Until one day they killed her and ate her and the years went by.” 

There’s a recent biography of Lispector by Benjamin Moser titled Why This World, which includes the story that one of her fans came unbidden to her home bearing a fresh octopus.  That already sounds like a princely gift to me, but not only that, the fan then went into the house, into the kitchen, and cooked the octopus for Ms. Lispector.  Oh boy – who wouldn’t be an author!?

Now, life being as it is, I happened to watch the 1962 movie King Kong versus Godzilla over the weekend.  It’s Japanese (obviously) but knocked into a somewhat different shape by way of all-American overdubs and some reshot scenes.  But the thing is, early on, before King Kong meets Godzilla, he has a fight with a "giant" octopus. 

Now, the special effects in the movie are really not all that special, and clearly they’re using an actual live octopus for some of the shots in the fight.  Acorrding to imdb four live octopuses were used in the shoot (as well as one plastic model).  Afterwards three of the live octopi were “released,” whatever that might means, and the other one was eaten by Eiji Tsuburaya, the film's special effects man.  That’s him below in the hat:

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