Managed to pick up a cheap compilation of New Yorker profiles (secret mission: biography studies), which coincidentally enough featured Capote’s
brilliant profiling of Brando
: The Duke in his Domain
. Great balance of profile detail, characteristic observation and secondary background and foreground. The adolescent voice of Brando, his indecisive ambivalence, his love of eating and the exotic. The nearness to fakery. The disgust with alternately the stage and then Hollywood. The brilliant focus of celebrity and their hangers-on. Of talent and ambivalence, whilst almost brilliantly effacing himself (Capote) from the picture. Great journalism.
Also, on matters Oblivious, David Foster Wallace’s brilliant (I cannot stop using that faceted word) medium-short The Soul is Not a Smithy
. Sustained imaginative writing. Precise, wordy, multi-media, rigorously geometric, sympathetic for fathers, absolutely focused in both the smallest and the largest timeframe, and intriguingly sensitive and acute in dealing with trauma and personal catastrophe. Brilliant duality of the child/adult perspective. I can only sigh.
That supremely vulgar Janet Street-Porter
(I’m pretty sure it was her) at the BBC gave Oblivion the most irresolute and subjective panning ever heard. Compared it to being left waiting at a bus stop when she wants her writers to ‘take her on a journey’. Said 'Give me Bret Easton Ellis anyday.' (!) Never seen anyone miss the point or the bus so clearly, re great prose, re great perspective. Another panellist correctly said DFW is a writer’s writer. Clear, JSP is not a writer. The kind of critic who’s critical acumen is always presaged by the words ‘I had a problem with…’ Yuck. Ugly. Vulgar. Yawn.