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Book list, I guess

Whilst feeding The Baby, I usually read. I've managed to go through several books that way in the past two months. (He eats a lot.)

Mark Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka is worth looking into, as a totally insane and eloquent parody of the English royalty--and American politics too. Goes on longer than it needs to, but was fun.

Marrying Mozart was a rather sweet little historical piece, but it was amusing to me that they were being coy, till the end, about which of the Weber sisters ended up marrying Mozart. Anyone who has heard "Rock Me Amadeus" knows it was Constanze. ;)

Mary Renault's Fire From Heaven was a remarkable achievement of historical fiction, and impressed me even though I was flippantly calling it "Brokeback Mount Olympos." (The book used the spelling "Olympos," rather than "Olympus," so I shall too.) Alexander and Hephaistion were really good friends. Not that this was unusual in ancient Greece. It also illuminated for me where the slash-artists The Theban Band (NOTE: NOT a work-safe link) got their name--evidently Thebes had an elite army entirely made up of Very Close male companions. *smacks forehead* Hello, history idiot. (I had heard of such armies, but didn't know their names.) Anyway, the original Theban Band (Sacred Band of Thebes) kicked ass; book claims they never had lost a battle, until Alexander caught up with 'em. However, I have no interest in using this space to debate gays in the military (since I'm sure I somehow just offended both the pro and the con side), so moving on...

Less impressive was a bit of fluff I read because it was supposed to be a ghost story. And it was a ghost story, a fairly fun and decent one, but it was basically a grocery-store romance novel. The funniest thing about it was that it was set in England in 1876, but it was like the (American) writer didn't even bother to get it Britpicked, or edited to match the era properly. The characters kept using colloquial phrases like "The thing is," and "I guess" (to mean "I suppose so."). I couldn't be entirely sure, but I was almost certain people weren't saying "I guess" in England in 1876. So, just now, I did a cursory search through a few famous English authors' texts from roughly that era on Gutenberg.org--Dickens, Thackeray, Wilde, Stoker, Wodehouse, R.L. Stevenson--and indeed, only the Americans say "I guess." Example: The Texan, Quincy P. Morris, in Dracula:

"Miss Lucy, I know I ain't good enough to regulate the fixin's of
your little shoes, but I guess if you wait till you find a man that
is you will go join them seven young women with the lamps when you
quit. Won't you just hitch up alongside of me and let us go down
the long road together, driving in double harness?" [boldface mine]

Alas, the romance novel was nowhere near as amusing as that. However, it WAS amusing to be able to say to Steve, "Ah. We have reached the part where 'Desire slammed into his loins like a fist,'" and to watch him cringe when I threatened to read more of it aloud. Sounds painful in any case, doesn't it? Something slamming into your loins like a fist?

But to name something I found linguistically delightful, and indeed excellent in all ways, we saw Everything Is Illuminated last night. Poignant, beautifully filmed, and at times quite funny thanks to "Alex" with his English malapropisms and his goofy hip-hop outfits. Oh, and the mentally deranged dog, of course. (And Elijah Wood kissing the dog was deeply cute.)

Whoo. Thank the heavens for LJ's "saved draft" recovery. Safari just crashed on me. Eeep. Goodnight!


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
"Brokeback Mount Olympos."

Mar. 29th, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)
To judge from how bad the reviews for the movie Alexander were, they probably should have tried to make it more like Brokeback Mountain.
Mar. 30th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
But...Stone said that Alexander failed at the Box Office because America couldn't handle the gay!

I saw most of Alexander over Christmas break. The titular character spends the entire movie looking like he's going to cry. I found myself wanting to take his lunch money.
Mar. 30th, 2006 03:32 am (UTC)
Hee. You mean it didn't make you want to follow him loyally across Asia Minor?

I haven't actually tried to watch it. I'm among the 0.05% of women who does not find Colin Farrell attractive. Especially with a goofy peroxide job.
Mar. 30th, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
I wouldn't follow him to the nearest 7-11.
Mar. 27th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)
Sammy Davis Jr, Jr!
I'm so glad that you watched Everything is Illuminated and enjoyed it! Wasn't it such a fantastic movie?
Mar. 29th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Sammy Davis Jr, Jr!
Yes! A great mix of the funny and the tragic, which I always appreciate in stories, as long as it's done well. (Which this was.) Really stuck in my mind for a few days after watching it, which is also a good sign.
Mar. 30th, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
Re: Sammy Davis Jr, Jr!
[Last year or the year before I meant to recommend the book to you as it is one of my favorite 21st century books.]

I am often of the belief that adaptations should be judged by their own merits as separate works. That said, though I like the film for various reasons, so much has been left out or changed [in some ways it is made overly sentimental--i.e. how Alex's grandfather is re-adapted with a completely new backstory with tones of Europa Europa dashed in]. At other times the movie wraps all the quirky whimsical elements of the novel together and seems to get overwhelmed by its own coyness (a complaint I also had with Big Fish) . I understand time constraints and tonal shifts, but the recursive shtetl portion of the novel is completely gone-- this is the section that the true themes of the book come out (you know, aside from the knowing one's past and not forgetting one's culture concepts).

Nonetheless, the film is very pretty and I'm not opposed to it as long as I try to forget what the adaptation did to the novel (I can give myself some comfort by saying to myself that it is essentially a take on the portion of the novel that appeared in the New Yorker). However, I'd recommend reading the novel for a different experience all together.

Mar. 30th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)
Re: Sammy Davis Jr, Jr!
*nod* I imagine this is one of those cases where it was easier to enjoy the movie when you haven't read the book (which I haven't). I am curious to read it now, though, since from what I hear it is indeed a remarkable piece of work.

I know I'm in the minority for loving both this one and Big Fish. I can't quite explain why sentimentality works so well for me in some movies but not others. Think in general I'm susceptible to a healthy dose of "silly." :)
Mar. 27th, 2006 11:04 am (UTC)
I like Mary Renault's stuff- which reminds me that I haven't read any in years. She knows her stuff and builds a realistic world.

It's also comforting to know that breast & books mingle! I've always thought breastfeeding sounded quite dull so it's good to know it's possible to do something else at the same time.
Mar. 29th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
Breastfeeding is practically the *only* time I get to read anymore--my hands are full the rest of the time! :) But yes, at least that happens often enough that I do get some book time.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )