Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Fall Reading, anyone?


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 vagansmom

vagansmom

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts

Posted 17 October 2005 - 06:36 AM

We've all finished our summer vacations (hopefully we've HAD a summer vacation), and we're back to the daily grind. What are you reading? What have you recently read? What do you like? What's on your beside table?

I've been too busy to read as much as usual, but do have a couple of books finished this month.


I just finished Jim Frey's A Million Little Pieces, an autobiographical account of his six weeks spent in rehab facility so he could quit his severe addiction to drugs and alcohol. Easy read and very touching. This man rejected many of the "Twelve Steps", particularly belief in God and attending AA meetings afterwards. The lives of the real people he encountered in rehab were fascinating and truly tragic. At the end of the book, he tells us what became of them. I also learned that the success rate of that facility, the one with the highest success rate in the country, hovers around 15% - 17%! I recommend this book. It's a bit graphic but important, I think, because of how he draws us to the goodness of each of these very flawed individuals.

Am currently reading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Yes, I fell for the title,
:(, just as he expected people would. Well, I also fell for the fact that the book was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Not finished with it yet but it's a very funny treatment of very tragic, and recent, circumstances in the author's life. Both his parents die, of cancer, within weeks or months of each other. Frey has two older siblings but also a 7 year old brother. He's managed to make me laugh a lot despite all the pain.

Neither of these books are written in a style I usually read and I have to say that I am grateful for that because they are each little gems!

What about you?

#2 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 17 October 2005 - 08:24 AM

I mostly read history and older novels (Balzac a favorite), but I was attracted to a book while listening to an NPR interview: "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior." The author, Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State, has a PhD in animal science and is herself autistic. At one point in the introduction she comments about the pain of growing up autistic: "Animals saved me."

The insights into animal feeling, thought, and suffering are astonishing. It is also helping me to empathize with and understand more deeply two young people in my circle who have high-level autism.

Here's an example of the kind of insight that has forced me to see quite a lot of the world differently:

"Animals are like autistic savants. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that animals might actually BE autistic savants. Animals have special talents normal people don't the same way autistic people have special talents normal people don't; and at least some animals have special forms of genius normal people don't ... "

"The reason we've managed to live witih animals all these years without noticing many of their special talents is simlpe: we can't see those talents. Normal people never have the special talents animals have, sonormal people don't know what to look for. Normal people can stare straight at the sanimal doing something brilliant and have no idea what they're seeing. Animal genius is invisible to the naked eye."


As one who is often too cerebral and analytical ("abstractified," she calls it), I am learning much from this book about how essential and even beautiful the capacity for empathy can be.

P.S. I orderd the book by cllicking our sponsor Amazon at the top of Ballet Talk pages.

#3 vagansmom

vagansmom

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts

Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:13 AM

Bart, I'm so glad you mentioned this book. I read Grandin's two other books, Thinking in Pictures and Emergence: Labeled Autistic. I've heard both she and her mother speak several times and also know some relatives of hers. So I'm thrilled to hear that she has a new book. If you haven't read the other two, they're definitely worth the time. Thinking in Pictures was her second book and a good portion of it discusses her life's work with animals although the book itself is really about how she, an autistic, lives in a world of people who don't understand autism. I'm looking forward to reading her new one now. Thank you! :(

#4 dido

dido

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts

Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:16 AM

Other than work books (for the diss.) I'm mostly rereading this fall: old favorites that I've read to peices and books I don't remember well enough anymore. I'm in the middle of Daniel Deronda right now, inspired to reread it since I read The Mill on the Floss this summer. Next on my list is either Moby Dick or Brother's Karamozov.
I also read myself to sleep every night with books that I have more or less memorized (Father Brown stories, Dorothy Sayers, lots of different kids' books, last night it was Up On Cloud Nine by Anne Fine).

#5 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,320 posts

Posted 17 October 2005 - 06:56 PM

I've been rereading Walker Percy's "The Last Gentleman" and reading for the first time Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio." Just tonight I bought "Without End: New and Selected Poems" by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski, and I'm about to begin "de Kooning: An American Master." I've recently finished Julian Bell's "What is Painting: Representation and Modern Art."

#6 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 17 October 2005 - 07:36 PM

I realized that, by sheer coincidence, the book I'm reading now and the one immediately before both center on Irish-American girls/young women who endure the loss of an older brother. The first, Name All the Animals, is a memoir by Alison Smith, a beautifully written account of how she and her parents cope (or don't) with the death of the son/brother and her own coming of (almost) age.

I'm now enjoying Mila Goldberg's new novel, Wickett's Remedy, which has enjoyed no shortage of publicity. It makes more sense once I realized whose voice is represented in the marginalia. :shhh:

#7 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,533 posts

Posted 18 October 2005 - 04:47 PM

Thanks for starting the topic, vagansmom. Among other things, I'm currently re-reading Clarence Day's stories about his parents, which I hadn't looked at since I was a kid. They hold up remarkably well -- wonderful stories of a vanished era.

#8 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:11 PM

I'm also revisiting Diane Solway's biography, Nureyev: His Life. It is in some ways an entirely new experience, after all I've learned from Ballet Talk and beginner ballet classes. It's astonishing to see again what a phenomenon he was, and how the guarantee of his name and presence -- dancing every night, often in multiple ballets -- made it possible for so many companies, dancers, and choreography to appear in the US.

I saw Nureyev on stage only 6 or 7 times, with the Royal, the Canadians, and once much later in Paris.

Plus the Balanchine Bourgeois Gentilhomme, which I remember hardly at all. :wallbash:

This was usually from far-out seats, so the thrill of being there was not always fulfilled by the actual experience of the dancing. (Except R&J.) I wish I'd seen some of his work with modern companies, especially in smaller theaters.

I remember the drama and the staging more than the steps; Nureyev knew how to tell and display a story. I will never forget the excitement so many people -- often not otherwise interested in dance -- expressed when they were "going to see Nureyev." And that was the term people used: "Are you going to see Nureyev?"

The Solway book has brought me back to an old videotape of his 1987 Cinderella. (When I saw it originally on Great Performances I didn't reealize I was watching the fledgling phenomenon that would be Sylvie Guillem. Or the relationship with Charles Jude.) I've also dusted off the Fonteyn-Nureyev Romeo and Juliet and the Canadian National Sleeping Beauty for the near future.

#9 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,533 posts

Posted 19 October 2005 - 05:18 PM

Nureyev had an amazing career, didnít he? I think itís perfectly safe to say we wonít see the like again.


I love the Father Brown stories too, dido. As you say, theyíre perfect bedtime reading. Dorothy Sayers is a great mystery writer in that particular style, which isnít one I especially care for (me heap big fan Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler).

#10 vagansmom

vagansmom

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts

Posted 19 October 2005 - 06:06 PM

Dirac, which Clarence Day book are you reading? I loved Life With Father and have reread it often as bedtime reading. But I've never read anything else by him. I checked Amazon and see that there's a "Best of..." set.

Even though this is a book discussion site, I want to plug a Masterpiece Theater series that's now on DVD. The book, To Serve Them All My Days by Delderfield is one of my favorites and the mini-series was every bit its match. I'm thrilled to find the DVD set and just ordered it as a Christmas gift to my marriage, lol. My husband and I were young marrieds back when that series was first shown and we both have very fond memories of Sunday evenings with Alistair Cooke introducing each new episode. In fact, we named one of our children after a character in that series (which I saw before I read the book). The series is brilliantly acted.

In case anyone's interested, it's the story of a young Welsh man who has returned shell-shocked from WW1. It was recommended that he seek a job as a teacher at an English public (what we call private here in the USA) boarding school for boys. The book tells the story of his tenure there between the two world wars. It's about teaching, it's about heading a school, it's about war, love, families, students, and politics too. Delderfield himself had socialist convictions and his protagonist in this book is the Welsh son of a miner. His life at an English boarding school for children of wealthy families is a far cry from his upbringing and his political views reflect that.

I've just dusted off this Delderfield book and plan to reread it before the holiday miniseries marathon. :)

#11 drb

drb

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,508 posts

Posted 19 October 2005 - 06:28 PM

I've been reading Roger Penrose's "The Road to Reality: a complete guide to the laws of the universe" since the end of summer, and it will last through NYCB's winter season and into ABT's Met season. This is the "math version" of Stephen Hawking's cosmology books.
A quote from the chapter (page) I've been reading this week: "Galilean spacetime is a fibre bundle with base space E1 and fibre E3." This implies (quoting, but using words for certain math symbols) "we do not have just one 3-D space as an arena for the actions of the physical world evolving with time, we have a different 3-D space for each moment in time, with no natural identification between these various 3-D spaces." I find this very vital way of seeing things is made manifest when watching Suzanne Farrell, or now Ashley Bouder, dance Balanchine: the music being the sanity that holds it all together!
It is amazing that Galileo's perception of the universe needs math that wasn't yet in the curiculum when I studied it! No wonder the poor guy was a heretic. It really is a fascinating book, and I can't wait to get to what Einstein really meant (if I can get that far). With such books you cheat and read the last page. The ending: "...what we mainly need is some subtle change in perspective--something we all have missed..." It is refreshing to know that that is true even for the two smartest people on the planet.
My get-back-to book is Maya Plisetskaya's autobiography (what with her 80th birthday approaching):
http://www.amazon.co...=books&n=507846
Stalin has her father killed, her mother dumped in a gulag, she dances Swan Lake for balletomane (!) Mao....

#12 Giannina

Giannina

    Gold Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 844 posts

Posted 19 October 2005 - 08:35 PM

I have just started reading the recently released "Alan J. Pakula, His Films and His Life" by Jared Brown. I have read 2 of Browns biographies and I find them very informative and well written. In this book Brown discusses Pakula's life and his production/direction of his various movies ("All The President's Men", "Sophie's Choice", "To Kill A Mockingbird", to name a few). Ideally I'd like to see each movie as I read its chapter in the book but that would either cost me a fortune or have me running back and forth to Blockbuster. I did do it with "To Kill............" and it was great fun.

Giannina

#13 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:25 AM

drb: as someone who is very much math-challenged, I am in awe. Two things I wish I could do: high level math (heck, I'd settle for accurate arithmetic) and great dancing. :o

dirac's and vagansmom's mention of Clarence Day brought back instant (and alarmingly detailed) memories of a 1950s tv series of "Life with Father". I even recalled then names of the actors who played mom and dad: Leon Ames and Lureen Tuttle. This from someone who has to refresh my memory periodically about the names and athors of books I read last week :) :huh:

#14 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,533 posts

Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:58 AM

bart, I can do better than that. I have trouble remembering birthdays of loved ones and the amount of money in my checking account, but not only do I recall Leon and Lurene but William Powell and Irene Dunne in the movie. I've never seen the series, but I saw the picture and disliked it. Too broad, too cutesy-wootsy -- even Powell was off form -- and the actual Clarence Day, Sr. would have snorted at the ending. I never saw the TV series -- what was it like?

vagansmom, my book is an old one called The Best of Clarence Day, which was put together after his death. It contains Life with Father, God and My Father, Life with Mother, and This Simian World.

#15 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 20 October 2005 - 11:42 AM

dirac, I was a kid, and it's funny how well I remember the look, the setting, and the relationships within the family, but not the plots. I Googled to see what is out there. Among what I found was this:

QUOTE:
"2.08 [--] Life With Father: FATHER AND THE DANCING LESSON
copyright date 13Jan55 (rerun 25Oct56)
Synopsis:
Clarence must learn the two-step for the big dance and Father assures
him he'll teach him. Then Father enrolls in a dancing school to learn
it and so does Clarence. [RF]"

You get the idea: Father Knows Best in Edwardian dress.

Not much happened, but it was gentle and very secure (emotionally and financially) It depicted a world that had not, could not, and would not change in any profound way. Ever. That, even more than the rather stiff and (to me) entirely unrealistic portrayal of the Day children, was what must have appealed to me.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):