Martin Amis Reading
In all honesty, I had never heard of Martin Amis before I started writing this piece about him and his newest book, Lionel Asbo: State of England ($25.95). But a quick read-through of his life, which at one point was termed “unusually unpromising” by a former headmaster, suggests interesting dinner conversation given the nature of his ensuing work, which has been successful. His latest, the aforementioned Lionel, seems to fit somewhere between A Clockwork Orange and an equally depressing story about English society. Those Brits! They love decadence.
The titular character, Lionel Asbo, (He changed his last name to an acronym: Anti-Social Behaviour Order) is an on-again off-again convict. During one stretch in jail he wins the lottery and quickly becomes £140 million richer. Does he give back to the community? No. Does he try to instill a sense of nihilism and preference for pornography over real women in his studious nephew? Apparently. Reviews of Lionel are mixed, but none so negative as to question Amis’ impressive literary career.
If you go: Martin Amis, University Book Store, 4326 University Way, Sept. 16, 3 p.m., free.
The late Michael Crichton never received much acclaim as a director. He had hardly any tact when it came to camerawork. The Harvard English dropout turned Harvard Medical School graduate did, however, produce a very seminal work early in his cinematic career. The movie was Westworld (1973), which revolved around a futuristic fantasy theme park where visitors could live out their hedonist desires in an old west populated by robots. For obvious dramatic purposes, the robots malfunction and start to kill everyone. There’s Yul Brynner, an idol of the western genre, here turned robotic and unstoppable.
Later in his career, Crichton would pen Jurassic Park, this time replacing robots with enormous dinosaurs that also liked to chip away at the cast list. Steven Spielberg was probably the right choice when the time inevitably came to adapt Jurassic Park into a movie. Having fiddled around with lovable aliens a couple of times and a toy shark, here he lets the heavy hitters of monsters loose. The movie stops on occasion to smell the social engineering roses, and eugenics might explain why the Velociraptors can reason and remember, why the T-Rex was stupefied if something stood still, and the Dilophosaurus' poison-spitting powers. But who cares about the technical details; it’s late at night, and you’re not there for historical accuracy.
If you go: Jurassic Park, Landmark Egyptian Theater, 805 E Pine, Sept. 14-15, Midnight, $8.25.
Ramayana at the Asian Art Museum
Ramayana could be described as the Matter of India, a representation of Indian ideals, centering on the concept of dharma. Like the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, or France’s Charles the Great, Ramayana is an epic story about the moral struggles of kings, warriors, servants, animals, gods and demons across the world.
The Seattle Asian Art Museum, in collaboration with the San Diego Museum of Art, is now presenting an exhibition of scenes depicted from the Ramayana. A collection of 40 paintings presents visitors with an understanding of the central characters, meanings, ideals and philosophy that has inspired Indian artists for more than 1500 years.
If you go: Seattle Asian Art Museum, Many Arrows from Rama’s Bow, 1400 East Prospector St, now-Dec. 2, $5-$7.