Favorite Reads 2016: Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky



Sculpting in Time by Andrey Tarkovsky is one of the best books I’ve read on art in a long time. This isn’t a terribly long book (250 pages) but it took a very long time to read because in each paragraph—and often each sentence—you will find something to linger over, an observation, aphorism, confession, explanation, whatever, and it will require some time to reflect on just what you’ve read.

If you know Tarkovsky’s films at all (e.g. Stalker, Solaris), you know they are meditative, incredibly shot, lyric, romantic, profound. As a writer he’s very much the same, moving through his work with a very refined style that nonetheless feels very, very taut, as though Tarkovsky has distilled his language down to the most essential words possible.

At the heart of this book is Tarkovsky’s argument about the way time functions in cinema (he sees his work as the filmmaker as “sculpting time”), which in itself is a powerful and provocative way to look at film, but I find it hard to look at Sculpting in Time as a film book per se. You could get equal good out of it if you were a poet, painter, philosopher, essayist, humanist . . . anyone who is sensitive to beautiful things will really feel that this book is intensely powerful.

I was surprised what a true discovery this book is. An obvious must-do for anyone who cares at all about film, but really I hope that everyone who reads this takes the opportunity to experience this incredible meditation on art.

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This is one of my all time favorite books. I quoted from it quite extensively in my PhD thesis, The Escape of the Imaginary Author, but even so, it’s hard to say anything about it without thinking of Andrei Rublev and Stalker, and the way he transformed Lem’s Solaris from a ‘quite good’ novel into cinema that resonates in the mind for decades. For me the book is so much a part of his overall oeuvre and has been a huge inspiration to me in writing fiction and nonfiction.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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