Hello! Couldn't access my hosting account for a bit (probably gonna change hosts at the end of the year), but the good news is none of us have missed much. That's also the bad news, because there's nothing CK on the immediate horizon.
However! Antkind was published in France earlier this year and, while doing some press for its release there, Kaufman said he's writing a new novel. Via BCKster Jérôme:
[...] in the magazine "L'Obs", he says he's currently writing a new novel ("I must have liked it [writing the first] because I'm writing a second one").
Jerome notes that you can sp[ot the word "second" in the scan below:
Artist creates Slammy's logo
Remember Slammy's, the fictional fast food joint in Antkind? (Not as cool as Mick Burger on p.9, but I digress!) Redditor u/15millionschmeckles created this cool logo for the place:
Slammy’s by day is a whole different creature: a bright, cheerful roadside beacon. Its mascot, a smiling and proud bipedal hammer donning a red superhero cape and blue unitard with a big “Slammy’s” emblazoned across his chest and holding a hamburger and a spatula and seemingly being chased by an unseen assailant… (Antkind)
Antkind out now in paperback, with spiffy new cover
David Hernandez has done what the rest of us are too lazy to do, and annotated Antkind. Amazing. You can check out the 7400-word document here, and if there's something he has missed or goofed, you can let him know in this Reddit thread.
So, I hope you’ll enjoy skimming these references that took me many hours to annotate. For readers who finished Antkind, maybe you’ll enjoy revisiting; for new readers, perhaps this can be a companion.
Comment in this thread with any references I’ve missed and I’ll do my best to amend. Some references I may have plainly got wrong. There are several apocryphal quotes, genuine quotes, and genuine quotes that have been misattributed. (Source)
I've always thought Antkind deserved something like the Pynchon Wiki, and now we have this.
CK as novelist and filmmaker featured in Ukrainian podcast Station 451
This is a neat concept. Station 451 (or Станція 451) is a Ukrainian podcast that discusses filmmakers who've also published books (Cronenberg, Alex Garland, Martin McDonagh etc.), and of course CK has been given the Station 451 treatment! BCK and myself get a mention @01:06:25, WOOHOO.
When Anomalisa came out and didn't win the Oscar, Kermode and co-host Simon Mayo interviewed Charlie and Duke Johnson on Radio Five Live, kicking things off with a bunch of questions about Pixar films (who did win the Oscar).
The interview was a little awks.
Then Antkind came out, and in this 700 page book there is one gag about Kermode. Kaufman has stated several times that Antkind is, in part, a comment on the usually one-sided relationship artists have with critics.
Kermode has mentioned this gag on Twitter a couple of times in the last few weeks.
Simon Brew at Film Stories has a decent write-up on this whole Kermode-Kaufman thing, which is worth checking out if you are interested in such dramas.
What I didn’t appreciate until I went behind the scenes of that programme earlier this year and asked about it was that words had been spoken just before the show went on air. That in the seconds before the show was going out live across the UK, Kaufman had spoken to Kermode, taking issue with a previous review (presumably for Synecdoche, New York). Then, suddenly, the news bulletin ended and a notoriously frosty interview ensued.
[...] What I’d suggest it goes to is the simmering that feels ever-present under the surface of criticism, the biting of lips on both sides of the critical divide, and the fact that human beings are human beings. In this particular case, Charlie Kaufman has the platform and resources to get his word out, and has chosen to use it. Kermode is in a position to take it, even though he may not want to or feel it fair. But the world is such that on we go, and social media will look elsewhere for its scalps tomorrow. (Source)
I do not mind that there is a Mick Burger on page 9.
Charlie interviewed on Australia's Radio National
Charlie was interviewed on Australia's Radio National today--my neck o' the woods, hooray! I think it's the first time I've heard Kaufman being interviewed by someone with an Aussie accent. In this case the someone was Claire Nichols, host of The Book Show. I can't find a way to embed it here, but you can follow the link. (The interview goes for about half an hour, and opens the episode.)
There were a few nuggets I've not heard before. We know Charlie has been in New York for the past few months, but here he mentions that he went there to work on a movie, and coronavirus hit the world while they were in post-production. What movie? Ending Things? But if that were the case I'd think he would mention it by name. Or not? Anyway. He also talks about his experience seeing Sátántangó, a movie 7-and-a-half hours long, at the New York Film Festival, and provides a little more insight into what exactly he knew would be in Antkind before he started writing it. Bonus: you can listen to Charlie read the opening of Antkind's first chapter.
The New Yorker wants to know if Charlie can get out of his own head
I thought this piece by Jon Baskin was going to be an Antkind review, and then as I read I thought Oh, it's an essay on Charlie's use of post-modern techniques to explore ideas of self and whatnot... and then it turned out to be indeed a review of Antkind. But it's a pretty cerebral review, taking in the wider context of Charlie's work and other post modern writers who hit it big around the late 90s/early 2000s, and it's an interesting read. Contains spoilers, though.
In their most successful works, artists like Wallace and Kaufman reassured their audiences that earnest emotion remained possible, even at the end of history. That these artists used so many postmodern techniques in the first place, however, testified to their sense that sincerity in an age of irony was no simple matter.
[...] It makes sense that Kaufman, one of our deepest and most imaginative thinkers about the self, would want to write a novel, one of our most conspicuous channels for self-investigation. That novel, "Antkind", has arrived, and, due to its length and slapstick sense of humor, it has already been labelled Pynchonesque. But the author referred to most often in the book is Samuel Beckett, and this offers a better clue about the tradition Kaufman aspires to belong to. In contrast to Pynchon’s political epics, Beckett’s work is one of the landmark achievements of literary introspection. "Molloy", the first book in his mid-century trilogy (and the one most often alluded to in “Antkind”), contains no secondary characters and hardly any events. It is famous partly for showing that great art can emerge solely from a mind wrestling with itself. (Source)
Podcast: "Piecing it Together" tackles Antkind
Longtime BCKster David Rosen is a musician and podcaster, and he points us to a recent episode of Piecing It Together, in which he and Kris Krainock tackle Antkind and discuss the other books and art they believe may have been an influence on CK's novel. (Ordinarily this is a film podcast with the same approach, but this is CK, and for CK exceptions can be made!) It's a great listen but it's spoilery, so beware.
Couldn't find a way to embed it here, but you'll reach it if you follow the link.
On the 137th episode of Piecing It Together, we do something that we’ve never done before… Cover a book! But it’s not that surprising that I’d want to talk about Charlie Kaufman’s first novel on the show, considering he’s the writer of my favorite movie Adaptation and a number of other films I love. Joining me is returning co-host Kris Krainock who did a great job of filling in the literary gaps with some puzzle pieces I’d have never been able to come up with unless I had another decade or two to read some more books… Did I mention I’m a slow reader? (Source)
Trunk vs. Trunk
It makes sense if you've read Antkind. Or if you've seen Malkovich, for that matter.
Observer's Holly Williams isn't a digger of Antkind
Holly Williams from The Observer:
Antkind is 706 pages long. It offers a maximalist satire of a contemporary America defined by fake news, corporate bullshit, vacuous pop culture and performative wokeness, but one so excessive, surreal and repetitive that it is itself tiresomely bloated and absolutely exhausting. If anything can happen without consequence, stakes are lowered. It’s absurdism ad infinitum.
Where Kaufman’s films are playfully mind-bending, they usually have real heart. But although Antkind is skippingly clever – saturated with comic allusions, puns, linguistic inventiveness and wildly unfettered imagination – it is sorely lacking characters you actually care about or any emotional narrative to cling to. (Source)
Ah well. The initial universal acclaim was bound to give way to a few negative reviews, eh. Charlie is never for everyone.
The Guardian reviews Antkind, too
Another review! This time it's Peter Bradshaw from the Guardian:
This debut novel from the award-winning screenwriter of movie masterpieces such as Being John Malkovich and Synecdoche, New York, is funny, exhausting and very, very long. Reading it is like watching (or being) someone trying to sprint to the top of an Escher staircase.
[...] Finally Antkind comes to its crazy, hellzapocalypticpoppin ending, and this twilight of the puppet-gods dwindles into darkness, leaving me with the punchdrunk feeling I have after all Kaufman’s movies. He may be someone for whom anxiety and sadness are a personal ordeal, but he transforms them into bleak, stark, unearthly monuments to comic despair. (Source)
indieWIRE film critic reviews Antkind
indieWIRE's David Ehrlich chimes in with a film reviewer's review of Antkind. It's mega-heavy on the spoilers, though, so be warned. (His verdict, if you don't want to read: he really liked it, with a handful of qualifiers.)
Kaufman’s 720-page Globster of a novel initially feels like it’s trying to split the difference between Haruki Murakami and Hollywood Elsewhere (and later flirts with the likes of Pynchon and Borges on its way toward settling down as an adventure that can only be described as Kaufmanesque). (Source)
Slate's Laura Miller did not dig Antkind
Antkind proved too much Kaufman for Miller:
I’ve long had a weakness for obsessive, neurotic, paranoid, and comically vain narrators, but Charlie Kaufman’s overstuffed, formless first novel, Antkind, may have finally cured me of it.
[...] Yet Antkind also has flashes of wit and even beauty, often just at the point when the reader has started to wonder if Kaufman wants her to suffer as much as the benighted B.
[...] Why, then, is Antkind so often tedious when Kaufman’s films are, for the most part, entertaining and delightful? Could it be something so simple as the constraints of cinematic form, the fact that you can’t make a three-month-long film because every minute of a movie costs a lot of money, typically other people’s money? That the limitations collaborators impose on a genius can end up rescuing him from his own hopelessly dithering solipsism? It could. Other people may be hell, according to Sartre, but sometimes they can save your ass—or at least stop you from crawling up it. (Source)
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