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Fall Reading, anyone?


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#16 dirac

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:56 PM

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.



Interesting, and thank you for the info. The stories arenít really like that. The family is very specifically Victorian. The world is gentle and secure, yes, but Father doesnít always know best, although he thinks he does, and Day, Jr. describes a world thatís changing all the time Ė he tells a story about the familyís first telephone, and what happened to their old family home in Madison Avenue when the neighborhood changed, and describes the gentle conflict between his parents that arises late in their married life when Mrs. Day musters up the courage to ask her husband for an allowance. (The author observes that women in those days had little ready cash and not much need for it Ė they couldnít venture far without a male escort, their elaborate heavy dresses and hairdos limited their mobility, they rarely lunched out except in private houses, etc. But Mrs. Dayís younger friends get allowances from their husbands, instead of constantly having to apply to their spouses for funds, and this makes an impression on his mother.) Day tells a story about his father insisting that he learn to play the violin, although Clarence, Jr. has no ear for music, and although the story is gentle and funny you can also see that it must have been a painful and somewhat humiliating experience.

#17 bart

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 01:09 PM

The stories arenít really like that.† The world is gentle and secure, yes, but Father doesnít always know best, although he thinks he does, and Day, Jr. describes a world thatís changing all the time


True of the tv show, too, as with "Father Knows Best." The larger point, however, of the tv "Life with Father" and innumerable other shows of the period was something quite different. The plot and humor came from the need to deal with change, definitely. (Father doesn't really know as much as he thinks.)

But the writing always conveyed the message that these changes, however agitating at the moment, are not really to be feared. (Father has wisdom, even when he doesn't know it.) The larger continuity of a basically good world, strong family, and eternal verities was what counted. And that could survive and even embrace a great deal of surface change.

The story you refer to about the violin would not, I think, have been presented in that form in this series. There would have had to be a comfortable, value-confirming conclusion. At least on commercial tv -- in America -- in the 1950s.

#18 vagansmom

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 02:44 PM

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.

Ah, just like Mr. Rogers. :thanks:

#19 dirac

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 03:18 PM

bart writes:

(Father has wisdom, even when he doesn't know it.)


One of the distinguishing features of Clarence Day, Sr. was his total lack of wisdom (not brains, he was plenty smart).

vagansmom writes:

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.


With all due respect to Russell Baker, Masterpiece Theatre has never been the same without Alistair Cooke. I can hear him now.

kfw, I read Winesburg, Ohio back in school and although I liked it I never returned to it -- too sad. Sherwood Anderson is one of the forgotten men of American literature.

#20 vagansmom

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Posted 21 October 2005 - 01:13 PM

Quick note: I mentioned Jim Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces, in my first post on this thread. I just heard that he will be featured on "Oprah" this coming Wednesday, October 26. I'm excited about it because after reading his story, I've wondered constantly about how he's fared since he's been out of rehab. I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

Now, if I can just remember to set the DVD in advance to record it while I'm out :wink: ...

#21 Ed Waffle

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 06:28 PM

Just finished Out by Natsuo Kirino. This is her first book to be translated into English and it is quite amazing. A novel about life on the lower rungs of Japanese society--the female protagonists all work the night shift in a factory assembling boxed lunches--that depicts the daily grind of working class women in Japan and the criminal happenstance that allows some of them to get out of it.

Reading War Trash a novel by Ha Jin. It is a novel set in a South Korean POW camp in 1950 and depicts the plight of members of the People's Liberation Army who were taken prisoner in the South. Ha Jin's earlier novels have won a stack of awards--he writes in vivid and beautiful English, much like another favorite of mine who learned this language as an adult, Joseph Conrad.

Started Atonement by Ian McEwan, for no other reason than I thought I should read something by him. It is certainly well written but I am having trouble connecting with the characters--I keep thinking of characters from Jane Austen and the Brontes as I read it. :unsure:

Re-reading The Great Code: The Bible as Literature Northrup Frye's book on the cultural importance of the Old and New Testaments. One of the many books that I love and which I read again every five years or so.

#22 vagansmom

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 08:29 PM

Ed, I don't know how far into Atonement you are, but stick with it. Don't worry about not connecting with the characters through the first third of the book. I don't think anyone does. That's perfectly fine for this book. I think you will like some of the other sections much, much better and they will be worth the wait. :unsure: The author knew what he was doing.

#23 Treefrog

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 06:23 AM

Ed, we had a discussion about Atonement sometime back. I don't have time to look up the thread, hence can't warn you if it has any spoilers. You may or may not want to read it now, but know that it's there when you are done with the book. I agree that it is worth sticking with, and that things pull together more the more you get into it. They are deliberately murky at first.

As for me, I have just re-read The Gatekeepers, which is about college admissions at Wesleyan. Since Wes is on my DD's college list, and we visited there last spring, I thought it would be useful to reacquaint myself with this journalistic account. It was neither more nor less alarming and/or depressing than the first time around.

I am searching for a good read right about now -- something to entice me away from the computer, where I am spending far too much time playing word games :) :unsure:

#24 chauffeur

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 08:27 AM

Nick Hornby's "A Long Way Down" -- his writing just keeps getting better and better with each book. I find I'm trying to limit how much I read at each sit-down with this book, because I want to make it laaaast! The four characters are so real, their first-person narrative voices are all so distinct, and the storyline, though it could easily go maudlin, is funny and compelling all at once. (Four strangers cross paths atop a London apartment building one New Year's Eve, each intent upon leaping off because their respective lives suck.) Loving it!

#25 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 04:44 PM

I assume that one ought to get ones teeth into something by Harold Pinter now.
I must confess that I still feel cheesed off after reading last year Nobel Prize winner, Elfriede Jelinek - she put me off reading anything for a veeery looong time.
By the way, anybody read anything by Orhan Pamuk, Turkish writer?

#26 dirac

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 03:23 PM

Not me, but I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has!


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