I just read two books back to back that made me realize there is this whole genre of books with a similar form. I have read many of them over the years, but never realized what they were. I decided to call this genre Brilliant Friends books after Elena Ferrante’s magical Neapolitan Quartet and its first book My Brilliant Friend. The stories are all told by an adult woman looking back on an intense high school friendship that was formative, changing their lives in some way or another. The narrator is the more subdued friend, the quiet one, the follower who is remembering the brilliant, defiant, bold, brave and ultimately tragic friend. Tragedy can take many forms, not just death, but always, the narrator ends in a better place than the brilliant friend. Thinking about it, both the books I just read (Marlena and Please Proceed to the Exit) fit that model but not just them. There’s The Girls by Emma Cline, The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, even All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, a mystery has the brilliant friend disappear, runaway or murder victim.
I like A Short Film About Long Things by Whiskey Monday. It defies gravity and our expectations. I also think it sold more HPMD grass than all their marketing combined. It’s a play on perspective challenging our expectations which is what art should do. Ernst Gombrich said, “Art is an institution to which we turn when we want to feel a shock of surprise. We feel this want because we sense that it is good for us once in a while to receive a healthy jolt. Otherwise we would so easily get stuck in a rut and could no longer adapt to the new demands that life is apt to make on us. The biological function of art, in other words, is that of a rehearsal, a training in mental gymnastics which increases our tolerance of the unexpected.”
Well, that’s what Whiskey is doing, increasing our tolerance of the unexpected. In terms of composition, you can see the light pole follows the Rule of Fifths, the line from Whiskey to the bird and the edge of the grass follows the Rule of Thirds, and the subject follows the Golden Ratio.
I like When I Was Six Years Old by Chel Glitter. Here is a delightful story-telling photo from Chel Glitter. I enjoy her photostream for all the stories she gives us in story. This one just made me grin…but you should click through for the whole story.