Fall Reading, anyone?
Posted 17 October 2005 - 06:36 AM
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?
Posted 17 October 2005 - 08:24 AM
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.
Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:13 AM
Posted 17 October 2005 - 09:16 AM
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).
Posted 17 October 2005 - 06:56 PM
Posted 17 October 2005 - 07:36 PM
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:
Posted 18 October 2005 - 04:47 PM
Posted 18 October 2005 - 05:11 PM
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.
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.
Posted 19 October 2005 - 05:18 PM
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).
Posted 19 October 2005 - 06:06 PM
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.
Posted 19 October 2005 - 06:28 PM
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):
Stalin has her father killed, her mother dumped in a gulag, she dances Swan Lake for balletomane (!) Mao....
Posted 19 October 2005 - 08:35 PM
Posted 20 October 2005 - 04:25 AM
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
Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:58 AM
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.
Posted 20 October 2005 - 11:42 AM
"2.08 [--] Life With Father: FATHER AND THE DANCING LESSON
copyright date 13Jan55 (rerun 25Oct56)
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.
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