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Somewhat Off-Topic: What have you been reading lately?


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1 hour ago, laffite said:

I have The Woodlanders on the shelf. Maybe I'll pick it up. It's an early one, isnt't it? I liked TESS and THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE a lot. I tried RETURN OF THE NATIVE and really struggled with it. I didn't get through it.  If you're into television adaptations, try Casterbride (2003) which is great. The actor Ciaran Hinds is brilliant as Michael Henchard. He was born to play that role. There is an earlier one (1978) with the great Alan Bates as Henchard but I didn't take to it. I have a TV adaptation of Tess made in 2008, four episodes. It's probably in my mailbox right now.

Thanks for the preview of Woodlanders. You got me curious.

I AM the Hammer. Bam!

//

RETURN OFVTHE NATIVE Is a good high school reading book, In that it is accessible and not as highfalutin as some of his other stuff, but  it’s in no way indicative of the depth that Hardy was capable of.

Re: THE WOODLANDERS -Now of course I’m plagued by that worry I have when I recommend something highly To someone that they will in fact not like it at all, but I kinda doubt that- stick with it For the first 100 pages if you can, because it is really A book that is ahead of its time and I think the ending is fantastic . And I think THE WOODLANDERS is one of his later novels....possibly his penultimate. 

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Death in Venice is a wonderful summertime read. You can almost feel the sun on your face

and smell the suntan lotion as you turn the pages.  And it's short so that it can be finished

in a few days, leaving one time to concentrate on getting a nice tan. 

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8 hours ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

I have Jim Thompson on my to-read list.  Love both Hardy and Steinbeck and read almost everything I could get my hands on.  There was an article in my local paper that said good readers make good writers.  As an English Major/English teacher/tutor, I think Steinbeck has an incredible sense of setting.  So does Thomas Hardy.

If you do not know how THE GRIFTERS ends, I highly recommend it as the first book by Jim Thompson for you to read. It has one of the best endings of any book I’ve ever read, And I still remember finishing it in detention in high school and saying “oh wow !” out loud and getting in trouble for it.

THE KILLER INSIDE ME and POP 1280 Are also exceptional, although they are somewhat similar. A HELL OF A WOMAN Is a brilliant, almost Dostoyevskian black comedy, And a personal favorite of mine is THE TRANSGRESSORS- Although it is one of his least discussed, least well-known books. AFTER DARK MY SWEET Is also really good, but it’s really short (just barely over 100 pages.)

Skip THE GETAWAY though. It is a letdown. 

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2 hours ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

I've seen the movie.  However, very often the books differ from the movies.

Besides changing the date the story takes place on (from 1963 to the present, which at the time was 1990) the movie is actually *extremely* faithful to the book. Like, right down to the dialogue verbatim. Nonetheless, in my opinion, it fails to capture the electricity of the novel.

so you might wanna start with THE KILLER INSIDE ME or POP 1280 or  HELL OF A WOMAN. 

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Just got the book "This Film is Dangerous - A Celebration of Nitrate Film".  

91CESuf94hL.jpg

 

Glance through it so far, a lot to read.  Goodness did got my money's worth ($68.00) it's large  11 X 7 3/4 X 1 1/2 inches (same my ARRL Radio Handbooks).

Did a spit take when I got to the chapter on page 527. :lol:

PANA0040.jpg

 

Sounds like something about Marie Dressler. (very volatile) :P

 

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Dark Star (The Roy Orbison Story) by Ellis Amburn

It's so interesting that such an ugly duckling like Roy was able to win the love of one of the town's prettiest girls. She married him long before he became famous and suffered a life of poverty with him while he toiled at his songwriting.

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Just finished AN EYE FOR AN EYE by Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), another with the very, very common theme. A young man with a sense of adventure but heir to the Earldom to House Scroop injudiciously allows himself to fall in love with a backward but beautiful girl living on a lonely cliff side with her mother.. She's a sweetie but cannot be the Earl's wife. She's not fit for that. He promises to marry her as he loves her beyond measure (and her him) but wants her to be a sort of mistress. The responsibility that exerts itself to Earl is very binding at this time with all the family tradition.  But breaking a marriage vow is binding as well, even to a non-entity like the poor girl. He could lose his honor if it gets out. He has a sea of troubles before coming to a decision. The author frames the story by telling the fate of one of the principle characters right in the beginning after which the story enters a long flashback scene that takes up the whole novel, but which all but gives the ending away. Yet I was fairly engrossed. Trollope really knows how to manage a story.

I'm halfway through NINA BALATKA, the same author. Again, the same theme. The setting is Prague, 1850, wherein a young Christian woman is in love with a Jewish man, and vice versa. The woman announced to her family that she is betrothed. Heaven and earth in turmoil at this outrage. The two lovers seems doomed since both will suffer dishonor if they marry. So how is this going to end? The style is rather stiff (unlike the other above) folks get angry but speak with measured eloquence that seems not to be true to life. Almost like this is a translation from antiquity. But I am gobbling it up. Trollope has a very straightforward style the plot is laborious and drawn out almost soap-operatic with similar conversations seemly being repeated. No discernible sub plots.

Also reading THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Grahame Greene. This is a book club selection to be discussed on the 18th via Zoom. Set in a West African English colony, it seems a treatise on how absurdly difficult is seems to get along with others. The protagonist does not love his wife but feels responsible for her happiness. She doesn't love him but acts as if she does. It's all semi-sincere sounding but is really phony. I'm only a third the way through but might it not be correct that their relationship mirrors the connection of the local citizenry and the occupying power. To early to tell anything, really. Grahame has a wonderful free-wheeling style that's a pleasure to read. The early part of the book was expository in giving the setting and some of the characters. But finally events begin to happen and the story is taking shape. I'm not all that with Greene but I have seen "his" movies.

////

//

 

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  • 1 month later...

I finally got to go into a library and spotted Woody Allen's auto-biography APROPOS OF NOTHING so snagged it. I'm about halfway through it but several opinions are already formed:

Allen is a great writer. His writing style flows beautifully, this is very easy & amusing to read. He often writes using old jokes & one liners, peppering his story with great humor, like describing his 50 year ongoing therapy.

I dislike Woody Allen, the person. Allen has many of the egotistical qualities that make his writing/movies funny but as a real person he's pretty despicable/deplorable. He's un-generous and often petty towards others. 

For example: His writing about Louise Lasser makes her come across as severely bi-polar. OK, most of us familiar with her know she's struggled with personal issues, but Allen paints a picture of a hellcat maniac making us wonder why would he marry someone who treated him so badly? Because she is pretty & with a strong libido, duh. Jerk.

And Allen goes on for about 4-5 pages unconvincingly explaining why he sued his "dearest, oldest best friend". He goes on & on about how he "begged her to meet with a mediator/rabbi/anyone" to resolve their "professional" issue so they could remain friends. Somehow, his sincerity just rings hollow. 

This book could have been a redemption story if he told his point of view more sympathetically, with respect to others in his life. All the funny quips cannot cover over this is someone with zero social skills & petty school boy thinking. I love the sweet sentimentality of Allen's films, but wonder where it comes from-is he making fun of his audience by pandering sentimental romance in his movies?

 

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6 minutes ago, SansFin said:

I have no new books but our schedule for next week allows me several hours to explore McKay Used Books in Nashville TN.

I strongly suspect that this will become my mantra:

veeWwVP.jpg

Sub books with movies and that'd be me.  Lol!

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I'm reading (well re-reading after 30 years),   The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham.

I was running out of books to read (e.g. I re-read all of the Perry Mason,   Holmes,   Kurt Vonnegut etc... books I own).   

I have a first edition and it starts with:   "This book,  while produced under wartime conditions,  in full compliance with government regulations for the conservation of paper and other essential material,  is COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED".

I realized the war was World War ONE.      The book's copyright is  1919 and this reminded me of the 1918 pandemic.

Thus I felt it would be great to read a book that I own that is over 100 years old,   that was released under conditions that is causing me to do a lot more reading (and guitar playing),  than I normally would do,  was somehow destiny.    So I'm reading it again.

TCM has shown the 1942 film which stars George Sanders and Herbert Marshall (but here Marshall is NOT playing Maugham like he did in The Razor's Edge).

 

The-Moon-and-Sixpence-1942.jpg

 

 

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On 8/7/2020 at 5:44 PM, laffite said:

Just finished AN EYE FOR AN EYE by Anthony Trollope (1815-1882), another with the very, very common theme. A young man with a sense of adventure but heir to the Earldom to House Scroop injudiciously allows himself to fall in love with a backward but beautiful girl living on a lonely cliff side with her mother.. She's a sweetie but cannot be the Earl's wife. She's not fit for that. He promises to marry her as he loves her beyond measure (and her him) but wants her to be a sort of mistress. The responsibility that exerts itself to Earl is very binding at this time with all the family tradition.  But breaking a marriage vow is binding as well, even to a non-entity like the poor girl. He could lose his honor if it gets out. He has a sea of troubles before coming to a decision. The author frames the story by telling the fate of one of the principle characters right in the beginning after which the story enters a long flashback scene that takes up the whole novel, but which all but gives the ending away. Yet I was fairly engrossed. Trollope really knows how to manage a story.

I'm halfway through NINA BALATKA, the same author. Again, the same theme. The setting is Prague, 1850, wherein a young Christian woman is in love with a Jewish man, and vice versa. The woman announced to her family that she is betrothed. Heaven and earth in turmoil at this outrage. The two lovers seems doomed since both will suffer dishonor if they marry. So how is this going to end? The style is rather stiff (unlike the other above) folks get angry but speak with measured eloquence that seems not to be true to life. Almost like this is a translation from antiquity. But I am gobbling it up. Trollope has a very straightforward style the plot is laborious and drawn out almost soap-operatic with similar conversations seemly being repeated. No discernible sub plots.

Also reading THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Grahame Greene. This is a book club selection to be discussed on the 18th via Zoom. Set in a West African English colony, it seems a treatise on how absurdly difficult is seems to get along with others. The protagonist does not love his wife but feels responsible for her happiness. She doesn't love him but acts as if she does. It's all semi-sincere sounding but is really phony. I'm only a third the way through but might it not be correct that their relationship mirrors the connection of the local citizenry and the occupying power. To early to tell anything, really. Grahame has a wonderful free-wheeling style that's a pleasure to read. The early part of the book was expository in giving the setting and some of the characters. But finally events begin to happen and the story is taking shape. I'm not all that with Greene but I have seen "his" movies.

////

//

 

Nobody will care and I don't blame them, bur for the record, I would like to complete a thought or two on the above, as I have now finished the two books discussed above..

I mentioned that NINA BALATKA took place in Prague, 1850. At the time when writing the above I was not yet aware (the novel hadn't covered it yet) that Prague, unlike many other European cities, was super restrictive regarding Jewish and Christian relationships. You couldn't even be seen together walking down the street. No doubt this is an ideal setting for the story of a Jewish man and a Christian woman who love each other. In getting married they both give up everything regarding friends and family. Everyone on both sides as well as the town are flabbergasted at the thought of this marriage.

Interestingly, in an introduction to another novel by Anthony Trollope, the writer tabbed NINA BALATKA as "unreadable." That shocked me a bit but I see what he/she means. I mentioned above that there was a stiff formality to the writing. And the story is a bit tedious at times because the same conversations, the same issues, seems to be drilled into the head of the reader. Sadly, this seems a bit true with a lot of novels by Trollope. Even the famed Palliser novels which are considered some of his best. I base this comment on my own perceptions. Still, I was still somewhat engrossed with NINA and successfully and with pleasure eased through five of the six Palliser novels. I think that despite what that other above said, I find, overall, Trollope to be very readable.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER was better than okay. The ending is based on the hysterical influence of religion (Catholicism). I'm getting tired of novels (stories) where religion seems the underlying issue. Why cant' we have real stories about real people and real life instead of having story and characters being destroyed by religion and killing the story. The previous novel that the Club undertook was JUDE, THE OBSCURE, another religiously obsessed book with a character whose transformation destroys (to my sense) her person making her seem more mentally ill, which can have affinities with religious obsession. Nevertheless, there is much in both books that justify one's time.

///

 

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The Vietnam War:  An Intimate History, by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns.  I've read many books about the war, but not recently.  This one has a different presentation probably because it is influenced by the TV series.  It is filled with sections on military and civilian  individuals primarily at lower levels.  Then balanced with short historical sections on the war, politics, the protests and so forth.

Actually fairly interesting.  Most of the stories are soldiers on both sides are about those involved in heavy/direct combat.  Which is not bad, but for the US that was the minority of those there.

It does reflect how everything came to be what it was, both in Vietnam and the U.S.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Our schedule changed so that it was today that I visited McKay's Used Books & CDs in Nashville.

I have just now unloaded them and am writing this as I examine precisely what I purchased:

Four-Star Movies: The 101 Greatest Films of All Time (2nd Edition) by Gail Kinn, Jim Piazza
Hardcover, 324 Pages, Published 2003 
$1.50

This is an over-sized coffee-table book 12.75"x10.5"x1.25" The cover is red cloth infused with red glitter.

Each movie has three  pages. On the first page is a significant screenshot, a sidebar with a synopsis of the plot and a paragraph of the movie's context. The second  page is the cast, short biographies of the major players and a list of awards and nominations. The third page is a paragraph about the director(s), notable quotes, critics' comments, the movie's place on major lists and a screenshot of: The Great Scene. This is for: Gone With the Wind (1939) a wide shot of Scarlett in her billowy gown as she walks past the dead and dying at the railroad station.

I would not normally buy a book such as this but it is a very big book in excellent condition for very little money.


The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa - Revised and Expanded Edition Prince, Stephen (Revised ed. Edition) by Stephen Prince Paperback, 368 Pages, Published 1991 
$1.50

I love Kurosawa very much. What caused me to purchase this was the use of footnotes, a bibliography which fills ten pages and the photographs are small, greyscale and very intense. I hope to learn much from this.


Bob Dorian's Classic Movies: Behind the Scenes of 100 Great Movies from Hollywood's Golden Years ("A" first Edition) by Bob Dorian, Dorothy F. Curley Paperback, 209 Pages, Published 1990
$1.50

I know of Bob Dorian only from introductions which were captured when someone recorded movies broadcast by AMC. I felt it might be worthwhile to know the opinions of a person associated with AMC before it fell to commercialization.

Each movie has two pages. There is a one-paragraph synopsis, a notation of Academy awards and nominations, the cast, an article of questionable value regarding the movie and some over-cropped images. 

I suspect this book will be given a quick read and then reserved for putting under the leg of an uneven table.


The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made (1st Edition) by Vincent Canby, Janet Maslin, Peter M. Nichols (Editor) Paperback, 1024 Pages, Published 1999
$1.50

I purchased this because I remember it being mentioned as a valuable reference book. I have not had time to explore it but it seems as if there is a little information about each movie and then a review.


Several books on history, philosophy and crafts jumped into my cart also.

The only movie which I purchased is: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). My time was running when I finally reached the DVD aisles. This cover caught my eye and I could not remember if our copy was manufactured or recorded from broadcast. I felt it was safe to splurge even if it meant having two identical copies as it was only $0.95.

I feel neither guilt nor shame at having spent $35.04. One should expect such things when I am let loose in a bookstore. 

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  • 6 months later...
On 10/6/2020 at 9:46 PM, SansFin said:

I feel neither guilt nor shame at having spent $35.04. One should expect such things when I am let loose in a bookstore. 

In McKays, $35 buys $100 worth of books.

I resurrected this thread because it can be about ANYTHING Hollywood related reading, not just biographies.

I just finished Richard Barrios' book DANGEROUS RHYTHM WHY MOVIE MUSICALS MATTER

18699142.jpg

And while I love Barrios, this book is a mess. He spends more time crafting snarky sentences trying to be funny that come across as elitist and rude than actually having a point. His thoughts jump from musical to musical without any explanation of why they're mentioned or their impact on viewers. I feel really badly, because Barrios is an authority on this genre but doesn't bother explaining anything in this book-not even a different angle-it just comes across as a long, disjointed diatribe.

So, I've just received THE SEARCHERS, MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LEGEND by Glen Frankel from my library. It was recommended by a fellow TCM board member. I can already tell by the first paragraph this is going to be a well written, well organized narrative filled with researched historical facts-NO OPINION thank you. 

(note: I have never seen the movie, but will after reading this-I'll know when to close my eyes)

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I decided to pick up a couple of books that were the basis for some well known movies and plays.

I'm in the middle of From Here to Eternity, and it's slow-going.  I put it aside for awhile to read Isherwood's The Berlin Stories, so now it's back to the slog in Hawaii...

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While shopping at Strand Books here in the city  a few weeks ago, I noticed the name Walter Tevis on a book cover on a table that I passed by. Walter Tevis....I thought was that the guy who wrote the novel TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE? I made a note in mind to have a look at the Tevis book when I passed by that table again. In the course of shopping I did find used copies of three books I was hoping to find-

THE UNDERGROUND MAN, Ross McDonald

WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER, Ta Nehisi Coates

SLIENCE, Shusaku Endo

On my way to the cash register I stopped by the table to check out the Walter Tevis book, which was THE QUEEN's GAMBIT (I'd never heard of it), and after reading the blurbs I see, a-ha! Tevis was the author of THE HUSTLER (never read the book but the movie is in my top 20 favorites). So I was psyched about buying THE QUEEN's GAMBIT

Later I learned, the book was filmed as a series on Netflix, so a lot of folks may already know the story. Eight year old Beth Harmon, living in an orphanage, despite enormous difficulties becomes a chess master. Her brilliant mind and relentless desire to win propel her to competing for the world chess championship, as a teenager. Along the way, the forces opposing her are not the players in the tournaments, but her inability to form relationships with other people, and her addictions to alcohol and tranquilizers. 

Tevis is a powerful writer. At first I wondered if the book would succeed in putting me in the POV of a little girl, and that ends up being one the book's many strengths. Also powerful are his descriptions of the daily life of a drug-dependent child and the nearly tragic teenage alcoholic that Beth becomes. I had to pause a few times in those passages because it was so real.

The story and themes have obvious similarities to those of THE HUSTLER.  But ultimately I found THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT sufficiently entertaining, well-written and powerful that I didn't care if there was some derivation. Gonna pick up a copy of THE HUSTLER, ASAP.

 

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On 7/25/2020 at 2:40 PM, Vautrin said:

Death in Venice is a wonderful summertime read. You can almost feel the sun on your face

and smell the suntan lotion as you turn the pages.  And it's short so that it can be finished

in a few days, leaving one time to concentrate on getting a nice tan. 

You mean you didn't get a tan just reading the book?

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20 hours ago, laffite said:

You mean you didn't get a tan just reading the book?

Just the opposite. It causes a sickly pallor.  Maybe TB even. 

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19 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

Just the opposite. It causes a sickly pallor.  Maybe TB even. 

Well, that was months ago and you seem all right now. But I would stay away from that book if I were you.

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3 hours ago, laffite said:

Well, that was months ago and you seem all right now. But I would stay away from that book if I were you.

Plus it would be silly to reread a book after such a short time.  

 

I just read And Then There Were None. Enjoyable and humorous read with a cast of English semi-eccentrics.

The movies are mostly faithful to the book, though one part of the finale is changed. 

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