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


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12 hours ago, NickAndNora34 said:

Room to Dream- David Lynch 

Is this a memoir/auto biography? How is his writing style?

While I love John Waters movies & his persona,  I find his writing tiring to read. Tough to differentiate fact from his fantasies.

I think some artistes really live in their fantasy world, making their work interesting visually, but not great with the written word.

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Having finished another re-reading of Gary Paulsen's  WINTERDANCE (which I highly suggest) I'm into another go through Robert Fulghum's  excellent EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN (Which I also strongly suggest.  

A quote from Fulghum's book,  when discussing "liberation"----

"Liberation finally amounts to being free from things we don't like in order to be enslaved by things we approve of."  ;) 

Sepiatone

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9 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Is this a memoir/auto biography? How is his writing style?

While I love John Waters movies & his persona,  I find his writing tiring to read. Tough to differentiate fact from his fantasies.

I think some artistes really live in their fantasy world, making their work interesting visually, but not great with the written word.

Lynch co-wrote this with someone else; full of anecdotes of his childhood and his road to making movies; I've only read a bit, but it is quite engaging thus far. 

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Save the Cat! by Jessica Brody It is on how to structure your writing to be most effective.

Pibgorn: The Girl in the Coffee Cup by Brooke McEldowney. It is the story of a fairy who is tired of toting dew drops and wishes to become a stand-up comedienne. 

Bite Me by Christopher Moore. I like his work but the first chapter of this is quite disconnected and in a strong dialect. It is a bit of a slog.

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Virgil The Aeneid, translated by Robert Fitzgerald. 

I'm taking an online course offered by Hillsdale College, The Great Books 101: Ancient to Medieval. You don't have to actually read each book completely, but of course it is encouraged. 

You listen to a lecture about the work under consideration, (there are ten of them, including The Iliad, Oedipus Rex, The Divine Comedy), take notes in the space provided beside the video, then you can listen to a Q&A interview with the lecturer for some deeper background in key areas, then take a short multiple choice quiz. After passing a final exam you get a PDF of a cheesy certificate you can print and frame. 

I was always interested in mythology in my school days so I don't find it a chore. One thing I didn't know was that the story of the sacking of Troy after the Trojan Horse incident was not related by Homer in The Iliad, but by Virgil. 

It is slow going, but fascinating. 

 

 

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Currently, I am reading Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke and the newer, revised Dark City.

I also found Julie Salamon's The Devil's Candy, the subject matter for season two of The Plot Thickens, at a used bookstore in town. Going to start it when this season of the podcast ends.

 

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I just finished The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carre last night. Interesting story even if it dragged a bit in the second half sometimes. The saga of a firey young actress drawn headlong into the ever-inflammatory world of the the Palestine/Israel conflict by becoming a most unlikely spy, it was filmed in 1984 with Diane Keaton and as a miniseries with Florence Pugh in 2018. It's a challenging story for anyone, regardless of who they side with in that everlasting battle, but its smartly written, with some extremely well-delineated characters. The central character of Charlie (the "drummer girl" of the title) is an endlessly fascinating character.

As a bit of a retreat from the spy genre, I have now started a novel by Toni Morrison called Tar Baby which I recall reading a rave about in a newspaper a few years ago.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I was a teen I used to be really good about reading the book before the movie...but now, I'm not so good. That being said, once I finished Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, I decided to be proactive and get Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World since Amazon's Wheel of Time is coming out in November. About 150 pages in now...Not usually big into fantasy, but I am enjoying it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

the 1946 ERNST LUBITSCH MOVIE "CLUNY BROWN" is, and will always be, very close to my shriveled black heart. It literally rescued me from a deep depression.

So, a few months ago, I ordered a copy of the novel on which it was based off amazon.com.

See the source image

(NOTE: this is not the edition I read, I read a BRAND NEW REPRINT OF THE BOOK, dated 2021, alas, I could not find a photo of the edition to post.)

It was an absolute delight of a book, maybe not quite as good as the film, but it made me respect the job the screenwriter did all the more- he really fleshed out the relationship between the titular character- an independent-minded, pixelated young British orphan who goes into service as a parlor maid at a Devonshire estate and an exiled Polish Professor in the last years before WWII.

The screenwriter softened the edges of the Professor a bit, and added more scenes between the two characters- wisely introducing THE PROFESSOR in the first scene of the movie. He also added a hilarious bit where CLUNY is mistaken for a proper guest on first arriving at the estate and is invited to tea with the lady of the manor...but besides that, they are very similar and I was delighted to see that some of the funniest lines are in the book itself (although the famous "nuts to the squirrels" is not.)

just like the movie though, the book has one Hell of a touching ending and is LIGHT YEARS ahead of its time on matters of class and a woman trying to "find her place in the world" when the odds are against her, and that very world itself is fast falling apart.

Just a delight, and one I highly recommend.

 

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On 7/23/2021 at 2:49 PM, LuckyDan said:

Virgil The Aeneid, translated by Robert Fitzgerald. 

I'm taking an online course offered by Hillsdale College, The Great Books 101: Ancient to Medieval. You don't have to actually read each book completely, but of course it is encouraged. 

You listen to a lecture about the work under consideration, (there are ten of them, including The Iliad, Oedipus Rex, The Divine Comedy), take notes in the space provided beside the video, then you can listen to a Q&A interview with the lecturer for some deeper background in key areas, then take a short multiple choice quiz. After passing a final exam you get a PDF of a cheesy certificate you can print and frame. 

I was always interested in mythology in my school days so I don't find it a chore. One thing I didn't know was that the story of the sacking of Troy after the Trojan Horse incident was not related by Homer in The Iliad, but by Virgil. 

It is slow going, but fascinating. 

 

 

Talk about fascinating :

I picked up a translation a long time ago at a book store, by E Fairfax Taylor, 1902. What interested me is the use of the Spenserian Stanza that I learned about in College (for more information, please google it). Briefly, the Spenserian Stanza is nine lines with a uniform rhyme scheme and seem a rather ambitious choice of verse.

I noticed a prose translation by the same author and on Amazon the Look inside! feature shows the following translation of the second stanza of the The Aeneid :

Tell me, O Muse, the cause; wherein thwarted in will or wherefore angered, did the Queen of heaven drive a man, of goodness so wondrous, to traverse so many perils, to face so many toils. Can heavenly spiirts cherish resentment so dire?

Here, also by the same author, his verse translation is the second (Spenserian) stanza, the same material just quoted:

O Muse, assist me and inspire my song,

The various causes and the crimes relate,

For what affronted majesty, what wrong

To injured Godhead, what offence so great

Heaven’s Queen resenting, with remorseless hate,

Could on renowned for piety compel

To brave such troubles, and endure the weight

Of toils so many and so huge, O tell

How can in heavenly minds such fierce resentments dwell ?

The relative lengths of each pair of stanzas are not so disparate as this one, which makes this one a dramatic example. If you're into verse (as opposed to prose for epic treatment) the Spenserian Stanza is quite a thrilling ride.

//

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

i just finished reading

See the source image\

which is from the author of CLUNY BROWN, which I enjoyed very much.

It is the story of a life as told through four different gardens to which the heroine tends over her lifespan- from her childhood tending to a neglected knot-garden on an abandoned  estate in Victorian times to her becoming a wife and mother to the Great Wars...

At least that's what it says on the back of the book jacket (yes, i read a paper copy), but i'll let you know something: that's a gotdamm lie, it's only 20% about ACTUAL GARDENS and the rest of a sort of polite drawing room scenes of life during WWI, which, in spite of moments that work, have more moments that taxed my patience greatly.

I still note though that had the book in fact been MUCH MUCH MUCH MORE ABOUT GARDENING and the TITULAR FOUR GARDENS, one of which is barely given mention, the other in which she grows peas during the war and that's all.

i absolutely love the idea of telling someone's story via the gardens they tend to in their life, or even multiple gardens at the same time (as i have done.)

might steal it someday

 

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here is the write up of FOUR GARDENS from the back of the book:

In Four Gardens, the most emotional and nostalgic of Margery Sharp's brilliant novels, we meet the lovable Caroline Smith (i>née Chase) and glimpse the stages of her life through the gardens in which she digs. There's the lavish abandoned one in which she has no right to dig; the tiny one in which she has no time to dig; the extravagant one, complete with stubborn gardener, in which she's not allowed to dig; and one final garden, hers and hers alone, in which she finds quiet, wise contentment

(end)

THAT would make a great story, yeah? But honestly, THAT is NOT what this book is largely about.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just finished reading the hardcover version of:

s-l1600.jpg

I've read several of Bob Hope's books, they are usually pretty fun. This one is no exception only there is a serious edge to it. The book chronicles Hope's adventures performing for our servicemen in Vietnam-something we're all familiar with, but this book really fleshes out  the "story". Hope describes the dangers, the logistics and the rough conditions they all were subjected to much better than just seeing film footage of performances.

Janis Paige, Anita Bryant, Kaye Stevens, Joey Heatherton and Carroll Baker were the primary women, but Martha Raye and others joined in the story here & there.  It is a great window into the lives & careers of these people- they left their cushy lives for moral support of the troops. I was most impressed with stories of Carroll Baker.

Still packed with Hope's one-liners, this book gave me much greater appreciation of his all his fellow Hollywood performers....even kooky Jerry Colonna-

Jerry_colonna_bob_hope_1940_nbc.JPG

Ah, comedy was so gentle back then. 

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I've reread DANSE MACABRE, a non-fiction book by Stephen King as he discusses what horror/sci-fi books and movies that influenced him as he was growing up.

Of course this book came out in 1981. There's been recently a new chapter added to it how he feels about the latest in the horror genre (it's at the beginning of the book). Could have done without his making more potshots at Kubrick's version of THE SHINING though. We get it, Stephen. You hated the movie. Enough already!

For the most part I enjoyed reading it, even if there are some areas I disagree with.

He has little love for Rod Serling's THE TWILIGHT ZONE (one of my favorite shows by the way) which disappointed me, but then from the way he writes I think he went into the show as a young one expecting it to be all mystery and horror. From what I read of Serling that's not what he intended for the show, he had something to say about the human conditions, such as war and prejudice and a lot of instances they were played out in a most unusual manner but it worked very well for me.  Also the show had quite a few sentimental episodes on it as well, which King dismisses as sentimental drivel. Again, I believe he expected TZ to be all horror, suspense and science fiction all rolled into one, so maybe it's not surprising he was disenchanted with the show.

I enjoyed his thesis on some of the earlier novels of the late 1800's, such as DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN. He makes interesting comparisons to Boris Karloff's Monster in James Whale's films and KING KONG, though I disagree with his opinion that Kong was made to be more sympathetic than the monster or his demise was more tragic than the monster's. Kong didn't deserve to be dragged away from his natural habitant to be exploited as a sideshow attraction, but the monster never asked to be created or to be mistreated and hunted down by others.

He gives credit to AIP (American International Pictures) for reviving the horror genre in the 50's and 60's that had been dying away in the 40's. It was actually  Hammer Studios that gave horror movies a much needed shot in the arm with it's reboots of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy and the Werewolf. Though to be fair I will say that AIP certainly helped to turn in more enjoyable fantasy little flicks. I always liked Roger Corman's Poe adaptations with Vincent Price.

He also goes into detail on other such books/films such as ROSEMARY'S BABY, THE STEPFORD WIVES, and INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. At the end of the book he does give his list of his favorites from the horror/sci-fi genre.

All in all it's still a fascinating read.

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NOSTALGICNAUTILUS,   I didn't know there was a newer, revised version of "Dark City".   Are you noticing any big changes?

Recently read, back to back,  the late lamented Sue Grafton's last two in the Kinsey Millhone detective series--   "X"  and "Y is for Yesterday".   I've always loved this series, starting with "A is for Alibi",   and don't know why I missed out on the last two till now. 

Grafton still had it, right to the end!   One of the things that kills me about her is that she was able to sustain quality over the span of the 25 books.  Oh, there were a few that were misses for me, but Grafton's formidable inventiveness and talent just keeps on pumping.  "X" was especially strong.

Kinsey is one of my favorite "modern" (Eighties') detectives, and the Santa Barbara setting (fictional "Santa Teresa") is just as beguiling as when Ross Macdonald was writing about it.

 

 

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Love this topic.

Just finished Lauren Grof's The Fate and the Furies  - interesting novel about two people who get married on an impulse (and how little you know about people - especially your spouse)

Currently reading two books:  Scott Turow's Burden of Proof (also have sequel to Presumed Innocent from the Library) and The Great Believers (Makai).  Burden of Proof involves Sandy Stern's wife's suicide and the "illegal" doings of his brother-in-law.  The Great Believers covers two time lines and both involve the effect of AIDS.  Just started it.

Also read the sequel to the Devil Wears Prada and the Librarian of Auschwitz.

Just received (courtesy of Amazon) Louise Penny's newest (Inspector Gamache) and Amor Towles new one.

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Squeeze Me, by Carl Hiaasen.  Hiaasen is one of those former newspaper guys in Florida who write really funny humor/crime books.   This one is set in 2020 Palm Beach FL.  Two of the characters are the unnamed president of the United States and his wife.   The president does have an orange pompadour hairstyle and lives in the resort that he owns in Palm Beach.   Really funny so far as are his previous works.

Main character is a woman who works to remove wild animals, which apparently are a major problem in FL.  At page 90 and she has removed a 18 foot long python from a resort.  Mystery is the large bump in the middle of the python.

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Finished The Strangers in the House by Georges Simenon last week.  One of his roman durs (non Maigret) novels.  Probably my least favorite one that i've read so far.

Now i am halfway through Ian Flemings' You Only Live Twice.  Getting close to the end of the original series now.  So far so good, but not much action yet.

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The Tsarina's Lost Treasure,  about an old shipwreck in Finnish waters that was carrying priceless works of art from Amsterdam for Catherine the Great. The shipwreck has been located but for years there was international squabbling, lawsuits and red tape over who has the rights. It's not even known if the paintings could survive this long, but for the time being it's been decided they'll be "preserved in situ" and remain protected on the sea floor. Tantalizing.

I'm halfway through David McCullough's The Great Bridge, but it bogged down due to excruciating detail that only a civil engineer could love. Still, it's hard to look at bridges in the same way since I started it.

Recently finished Grant by Ron Chernow (one of my favorite biographers) and it was every bit as good as expected. 

 

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On my Audible account, I had a sudden urge to read all those Jules Verne novels that I knew the better-known movies to, and...okay, now I know why they're loosely adapted:  Verne's reputation as a "wondrous futurist" is not only wildly out of context (he was, in fact a bit of a pessimist, and his stories were about what could go wrong if society became too complacent, or the antagonist MIS-using future technology), but he tended to get bogged down in the realistic scientific details to the point that the plot was often incidental.

Case in point, From the Earth to the Moon, which, unlike H.G. Wells' trip, never had a good movie version outside of Georges Melies...And there's a reason for that.  In one of Disney's wacky Ward Kimball "Tomorrowland" cartoons about the history of early interplanetary sci-fi thought, Kimball comically sums up the book as "In which three adventurers are given a big sendoff by the Baltimore Gun Club...(blam!) And return...(blam!) to a big reception by the Baltimore Gun Club."   😄

Jokes aside, that is pretty much the entire book:  We get sixteen chapters of jolly French satire of gung-ho post-Civil War American gun nuts in said geek-club, who, left with no more need for artillery enhancements, turn to figuring out how to fire a cannon to the moon.  The last ten of these chapters involve realistic details about the necessary dimensions of the cannon, where and how to build it (prophetically down to either Texas desert or Florida swampland), the necessary calculations of gunpowder vs. gas expansion, and more satire of the overenthusiastic bureaucracy of those mid-Atlantic 19th-cty. Yanquees and their amateur-enthusiast societies.   FINALLY, by chapter 18, a French scientist shows up persuading to fire a hollow travel capsule instead, and after six or seven more chapters of theory, more bureaucratic satire, and some conflict between the French scientist and the club president, three travelers are set to be shot off...with three chapters left to go.  In the end [SPOILERS] they miss their goal by a hair, and the moon now has its own orbiting satellite for the foreseeable future--Well, we warned you uncut Verne was a realistic pessimist.

I'm not off Verne (for some reason, I downloaded one of those "Best of" collections with three or four novels), and I know that "20,000 Leagues", "80 Days" and "Mysterious Island" won't have James Mason, David Niven or Herbert Lom in them, and I'm actually a bit curious to see what didn't make it into the movies.  But those attracted by name reputation, and didn't encounter him in high school, would be best warned.

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I just finished reading: 

md22574409947.jpg

This was one of the best books I've ever read, definitely the best impressions of the real Judy Garland. I had no idea Mel Tormé was the musical director of the much celebrated 60's Judy Garland TV Show. Tormé is a good writer, this is a joy to read, always interesting & pretty fast paced.

Yes, we all know Judy is a brilliant performer-we know she was an addict and had deep mental issues-we know this made her difficult, if impossible to work with. But here's someone who wrote it all down, scene by scene from the perspective of co-worker & colleague.

Tormé was going through a tough time of his own and rather than self-indulgent, just reminds us that we ALL have problems. This offers a contrast of how most people handle themselves professionally and how Judy handled herself.  Amazing. Tormé is never nasty about it, just states the facts m'am so we can form our own opinions. This book certainly fleshes out Judy as a real, working person, a Mother,  genius performer and a nightmare.

I always measure a documentary by if I had learned anything new. I did not know Judy Garland & Glenn Ford dated awhile. Can't even picture them together. You can find this book for under $10 on ABEbooks or ebay.

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