July 26th, 2015

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

I don't usually pay a lot of attention to the writers of motion pictures. It's not fair, I know, but the screenwriters don't get a whole lot of respect in Hollywood, and to some extent that attitude is true of the movie fans.

There's this one screenwriter, William Goldman. I was first introduced to his work when a good friend insisted on reading aloud to a group of our friends a particular scene from a book that he'd found. I was shocked to realize later when I was watching The Princess Bride that I already knew the scene atop the Cliffs of Insanity; yes, it was that same scene.

I later read the book myself and enjoyed it...but that's not what I'm dealing with here. Yesterday, I finished reading his book Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting which I found to be an excellent discussion of the movie system. The book is a little old now (written in 1983), but there's still a lot of gold in it. If you have an interest in what The Industry is like, I think this is worth a read.

A few hours later, I also finished reading Osprey Warrior #71: Roman Legionary 58 BC – AD 69, which deals with the troops of the Republic during into the troops of the Empire. It's a pretty well put together book. If you're interested in the period, it might be a good choice for some concentrated data.
kitty, reading

Books #35-36

Book #35 was "Two Serious Ladies" by Jane Bowles. I found about this book by reading an article about gay authors' favorite books of all times. Several, both men and women, liked this one. It's the only novel Bowles ever wrote, and she's better known for her plays. The title is like the book, both in earnest and in jest. The two "ladies" in question are Christina Goering and Frieda Copperfield, who both are trying to discover themselves in different but absurd ways. Goering is an heiress who moves out of her mansion into a desolate shack on an island, allows her house to be inhabited by gold-digging hangers-on, and finds herself going home with a series of disreputable men. Meanwhile, Copperfield goes to Panama with her husband, only to abandon him in order to take up with a teenage prostitute and the middle-aged proprietoress of a run-down hotel. For being published in 1943, it's quite frank about bodies and sexuality, though any explicit sexual activity takes place "off stage." It does, however, mention bathing in the sea in the nude, dripping pubic hair, and prostitution without much censorship. The book is oddly compelling and amusing, though I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it at times. I do think Bowles and her husband were interesting characters in their own right, and now I'm curious about her plays.

Book #36 was "Herland" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I'd read her novella, "The Yellow Wallpaper" in college English class, and I was curious about her novel about a feminist utopia. My husband listened to it as an audiobook (free via librivox.org) and said he liked it, so I gave it a try. I found it to be quite readable, though it does have the feel of a parable at times, rather than a traditional novel, and I'm sure she did mean it to have a didactic purpose. Published in 1915, the novel starts when three explorers hear a tale about a country of all women. They make an expedition there, assuming that either the rumors are untrue, or if they are, that a country of women would be easily conquered. The men instead get captured and spend a year learning a whole new Herland culture. I liked the book better when it showed interactions between the characters rather than the sometimes lengthy expositions about Herland history and culture, and the whole "Women would run the world better" theme got pounded in a little obviously at times. Overall, I did like it and would recommend it as a highly entertaining feminsit parable.

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Circus people, like any other cadre of co-workers, occasionally gather to swap yarns, which are sometimes embellished and elaborated in the re-telling, particularly if there are adult beverages being passed around.  Long-time impresario Paul Binder of the Big Apple Circus committed some of his tales to print in Never Quote the Weather to a Sea Lion And Other Uncommon Tales, which I'll commend to you tonight in Book Review No. 14.  (Half a year, half a year, half a year onward, and we'll see about the fifty ...)

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(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)