guest review: In Session by MJ Rose, from Mom

I posted my review of In Session a few days ago; now here’s my mother with a very different impression of it. For fairness’ sake. 🙂

In Session is a short but sweet introduction to the work of M. J. Rose and her character Dr. Morgan Snow, a sex therapist. I’ve never read her, but I will be looking for more of her work. The premise of this short story is that she manages to make contact with three fictional characters and involve them in her work. She makes a very satisfactory connection with Reacher, Lee Child’s hero, and the only one I have any experience with.

The first session (as in therapy session) is with Cotton Malone, who’s the creation of Steve Berry. Dr. Snow finds a way into his antiquarian bookstore to look at an erotic book from the 15th century. Discussion of the book leads to some discussion of his personal hang-ups, and a point is scored in favor of reflecting on and starting a resolution of these issues.

Calling this work erotic seems a bit of a stretch; there is certainly a lot more explicitness in many romance novels, I think. Perhaps in a full-length work, there’s more opportunity for a theme to blossom. In these sessions with the doctor, the issue of a sexual nature in couples’ lives is strong, but, as it should be, it’s also mixed with other aspects of people’s needs, such as dominance and trust. Eroticism is not the focus of the doctor’s work, but rather an important part in human nature that’s her area of expertise.

In the next two sessions, she meets with Reacher and Barry Eisler’s John Rain. I have to presume that she gives them accurate characterization, as all three authors have approved – and applauded – the work. The meetings are not contrived, but arranged so that the sexual issues can be raised with men who would never have consented to any kind of therapy. This book is just a taste of Rose, but I see lots of promise in her character and style.

I read a digital galley from NetGalley.

Thanks Mom! I’m glad you liked it.

guest review: movie: Midnight in Paris, from Mom (2011)

A new guest reviewer! I asked my mother to share her thoughts about the movie we saw together, initially thinking she could help me develop my own review; but I think she merits her own post here.

Paris is sweet and softly lit in the late hours of the 1920’s, but the hard truth of the present is clear. The plot of Midnight in Paris concerns a trip to Paris by our hero with his fiancĂ© and her parents – a family of snobby rich American tourists who don’t like Paris most of the time – like when it rains – and focus mostly on shopping. The story has our hack Hollywood writer dreaming of the pure Paris artistic air and following the path of Hemingway or Fitzgerald. He wanders the streets at midnight, and gets in a taxi to the twenties.

Woody Allen’s twenties Paris is a spectacle. It’s a fun romp, and adorable. What fun it must be to put together the words of the great Americans who were there in the bars and Gertrude Stein’s salon. He throws out the lines and the audience laps it up, especially the fun poked at Papa.* We share the lives of these artists who didn’t know where they were going, didn’t know that they lived in the Golden Age, and it’s our lovely secret. It’s also the secret of our hero, who is clearly the alternative Woody Allen. He tries to milk his opportunities, getting advice from Stein, schmoozing with the Fitzgeralds, and romancing Picasso’s girl. He even considers staying, but we’re a bit hopeful that he might grow up.

Salvador Dali is a grand character, super-mustachioed and enigmatic. Hemingway is larger than life – but isn’t that what he really was? Cole Porter appears, and Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald are all that they must have been, gay, charming, and ready to dash off at a whim, probably into the abyss. Luis Buñuel gets a film concept from his own future, through our hero/fan. Gertrude Stein rules her salon and there is no doubt that she’s the regent.

It was never going to work out for the couple, and if this is a spoiler, you’re missing the gorilla in the bedroom. It’s a little silly that this innocent was ever attracted to the scolding fiancĂ© we see. The plot is obvious, but we’re here for the fun. Paris is every artist’s dream and muse; we love those dreamers who sucked up life when it was at its best. There’s a carpe diem moral here, and idealism waiting to be tested. Also just good looking.

*I think this is a poke at me, too. I was eating up Papa’s lines – yes ridiculous, but true to life! I may take him too seriously. 🙂

Thanks Mom, you did it beautifully.

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