from Mom

After we both enjoyed some Kingsolver (The Lacuna, Flight Behavior) so very much, my mother is clearly pushing for me to enjoy this one along with her. She shared this quotation:

“April is the cruelest month, T. S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can’t keep, all passion is really a setup, and we’re doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. I’m a soul on ice flung out on a rock in the sun, where the needles that pierced me begin to melt all as one.”

–from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

This book is both a collection of stories about practical (more or less) matters and a reflection on life: human, plant, planet. Very sweet to dip into without rolling straight through.

My first reaction is that this brief quotation echoes Annie Dillard strongly – you recall that I recently shared some of her passages, too. Funny how that works out. I don’t know when I’ll be joining you, Mom, but thanks for the head’s up.

from NYT magazine: “Stephen King’s Family Business”

Thanks to my mom for sharing this fun article by Susan Dominus, “Stephen King’s Family Business“, in which she sits down with the family – Stephen, Tabitha, their three children Naomi, Joe and Owen, and Owen’s wife Kelly. This crowd of six boasts five novelists, a hefty feat: Dominus calls them “as close to a first family of letters as America is likely to have,” and I think she makes a fair case.

It’s a pleasure to step inside the lives of Stephen King and his family. I am only a beginner-fan, having read, oh, 7 or so of his many many books; but I am a fan, and even at my beginner level, was aware that the King family talent extends beyond Stephen himself. The people portrayed in this article are down-to-earth and likeable, and come across as both a tight-knit family and as distinct individuals at the same time.

Go check it out. I, for one, was already watching my local library for NOS4A2 on audio, but have now requested Heart-Shaped Box as well. Who knows what you’ll find?

from NYT magazine (thanks Mom)

I just wanted to share this brief piece from a recent New York Times Magazine. Via my mother – thanks, Mom.

(I tried to link to the printable version because it involves no pictures or graphics, which I find distracting. It redirects to the main article. Click print if you’re like me. [I was given a clipping of the print version, and that was nice.])

My mother didn’t include a note explaining the relevance of this piece. I think there is value in the observation of how much can be said in very few words, for obvious starters. But the poignancy is possibly the real point. Take what you will from it; I’m trying not to clutter it up with my own words.

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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