Yesterday we had author Philip Hoare come and speak to our little group of ten. He's a great talker and sparkles with enthusiasm for his craft. His latest book "Leviathan" is a biography with a whale as its subject. This is of course a wonderful jumping off point to discuss whether that really fits into the genre of biography - to have an animal as your subject. It seems anything goes in this post-post-modern world of biography. I like it when people break the rules and get away with it. His book is a huge hit and he's laughing at his detractors all the way to the bank.
After the session ended, one of my fellow students - the American women, Michelle - and I went across the street to the Sainsbury Centre for the exhibition of three surrealist friends - Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna. This is the last week it's on and I was determined to see it before it left. It's an amazing collection of the work of Carrington and Varo, but there were none of the photographs of Horna, who wasn't a painter. Walking through the gallery and gazing at these incredibly fantastical paintings, being the only two people in the place, was strangely moving, and I'm not actually a big fan of surrealism. The paintings are hauntingly beautiful, and Carrington especially brings in a touch of humour to hers - bizarre humour. It's clear that the two women had a strong influence over each other's work.
Next week, unbelievably, is the last week of classes for this semester. I'm at the halfway point with the course work. The next semester starts January 18th, and while I still have two 5000-word essays to work on over the holidays, I'm feeling like I've got a good hold on things. I've finished the 2500-word workshop piece I'll be presenting to the group on Tuesday. We have an excellent camaraderie now - essential when a group critiques each other's work - and I'm not too worried about being lacerated.