Thursday, August 10, 2006

Louise Brooks in Literature

As any reader of this blog knows, I like organizing information. It a compulsion of mine. I guess that's why I like doing research. And sometimes, I make lists. It gives me something to do. It's a kind of therapy. It keeps me off the streets.... I recently made a list at amazon.com (part of their Listmania function)  called "Homage to Lulu: Louise Brooks in Literature." It's a survey  of homages, tributes, name checks, references, etc... to the one and only Louise Brooks. It includes the likes of Neil Gaiman, Paul Auster, Frank O'Hara, Angela Carter, Salman Rushdie, Clive Barker, Lemony Snicket, John Updike and others. Another list I recently created is "Louise Brooks in Song (and Other Musical Tributes."

Speaking of literary tributes, today the popular blog known as Bookslut wrote up one of the earliest literary tributes to Brooks, The Invention of Morel (1940), by Adolpho Bioy Casares. The blogger noted

The Invention of Morel, by Adolfo Bioy Casares: An Argentinean writer much less known than his brilliant friend and collaborator, Jorge Luis Borges, “Bioy” was also less consistent in the quality of his work. But he did write at least one great book, a dreamy novella inspired by movies and the flapper actress Louise Brooks. Published in 1940, it’s also one of the earliest books which uses virtual reality as a central conceit, long before the digital age.

It begins like a Latin American version of a story by Wells or Stevenson (both favourites of Casares and of Borges, too). A mysterious island, rumours of a terrible disease, a refugee from justice, and all-too-real ghosts who keep on repeating the same actions… Tinged by post-modern ideas without losing its emotional heart, fantastic without ever seeming preposterous, this is a weird and exciting book. The Louise Brooks photo NYRB use on the cover is great, too -- the white-swathed actress with her famous bangs, surrounded by piles of books. Just like the book, it’s haunting, sexy and literary.

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