Suite for Barbara Loden (Paperback)
I don't really like ever hearing a book called "perfect." A dollop of imperfection is, in my eyes, the mark of a book that's really striving for something new -- and because that "something new" never quite fits exists categories to judge it, "perfect" just never seems quite right. Having said that, I'm also no dogmatic! Sometimes a book defies even my own defiant expectations and preferences, and I'm forced to dig deep for appropriate synonyms. In the case of Natalie Léger's Suite for Barbara Loden, the most appropriate word I've landed upon is exquisite.
What's going on in this book is hard to down into a blurb. A mash of imagination and fact, biography and fiction, Léger is as curious about what she is doing as we are. You needn't know much about the cinematic work of Barbara Loden or her cult film, Wanda, the analysis of which is the pivot around which this little books turns. This is because Légerger's singular obsession somehow, and brilliantly, expands into something universal about all the untold things that are lost and gained in teh course of "playing our role" / "playing one's role" in life.
So, yes, "exquisite" will do perfectly for Suite for Barbara Loden. I really cannot recommend this small press gem highly enough. -- Brad
Fiction. Translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer and Cecile Menon. "I believe there is a miracle in Wanda," wrote Marguerite Duras of the only film American actress Barbara Loden ever wrote and directed. "Usually, there is a distance between representation and text, subject and action. Here that distance is completely eradicated." It is perhaps this "miracle"--the seeming collapse of fiction and fact--that has made Wanda (1970) a subject of fascination for artists from Isabelle Huppert to Rachel Kushner to Kate Zambreno, and that set acclaimed French writer Nathalie Leger on an obsessive quest across continents, into archives, and through mining towns of Pennsylvania trying to get closer to the film and its maker. SUITE FOR BARBARA LODEN is the magnificent result. Moving contrapuntally between biography and auto-fiction, film criticism and anecdote, fact and speculation, SUITE FOR BARBARA LODEN is a stunning meditation on knowledge and self-knowledge, on the surfaces of life and art, and how we come to truth--a kind of truth--not through facts alone but through acts of the imagination.