miliosr

What Are You Reading?

92 posts in this topic

Patrick:
the party that Janis Joplin came to 'at the big house on Franklin Avenue

I’ll have to read the White Album again -- it always is checked out or missing at the library. The house on Franklin may have been Preston Sturges’ -- big perhaps in comparison to the little guest house where a gardener friend used to live - or big in comparision to the little cottages on surrounding streets called exotically Heliotrope or Poinsettia. Joan Didion seems both to want to throw herself into the sixties and yet stay aloof. Too bad there isn’t mbourbon1ore about Janis Joplin (though there’s the nice detail about her ordering Benedictine & Brandy) or Morrison. Interesting that both Didion and Elizabeth Bishop interviewed Kathleen Cleaver in San Francisco, bodyguards and security and all.

Pretty sure it wasn't, although across the street the house she described as having been lived in 'by one of the Talmadge sisters' is still there too. She talks about the house again, but less mysteriously, in 'Where I Was From', which I thought excellent, but searing in the part about Lakewood (which I then went to see in late 2003. Lakewood does feel almost like a ghost town with the loss of McDonell Douglas, which is what the story is, it's only a Green Line stop or two away from the Watts Towers, which I'm crazy about.) Actually, that first long essay is still steeped in what she referred to as her 'bad attitudes and wrongthink', although it comes across as very poetic. I find her extremely funny, one of those people who is funny naturally, often without knowing it. Since she's so physically tiny, the house may have seemed literally big, but those little cottages on Poinsettia do look like from sets of 40s movies--still. They're adorable, and are indeed smaller, but there's a diminutive look to this house, which has been well-renovated and nicely restored, even though it's two-story. But definitely small in comparison to not only the smallest ranch-style places on Canon Drive between, say, Sunset and Santa Monica, or those mini-manses on the residential part of Rodeo, and really anything above Sunset on Roxbury or Rexford, etc.. And I also remember some houses even on Franklin itself, and maybe Camino Palmero, which were considerably larger. Not small, but strangely compact and the only reason I mentiioned this was because it seemed something of a metaphor for her constant upset and 'staring at nothing' that she kept talking about, a real paranoia that was sometimes based on real threats, though. To such degree, that her babysitter told her she had a 'death aura'. Didion wrote 'we sat and chatted about why this might be so', which is pretty funny to me. I would have fired her.

Yes, of course she would 'both to want to throw herself into the sixties and yet stay aloof.' How else cover the hippies in Haight-Ashbury without going nuts, as she describes having to take ups and gin to write 'Slouching Toward Bethlehem', but manages not to drop acid when offered, due to 'instability'. The page about the party is a brilliant prose-poem because it focusses on all the eccentricities of rock musicians (developed further in the one on the recording sessions of the Doors she went to): 'Musicians never wanted ordinary drinks', but always things like 'tequila neat' or 'champagne cocktails'. But also that they refused to ever keep bourgeois time at any cost, so she has those passages about 'first we must roll a cigarette, and we must have Vegetables Vindaloo' and 'many rum drinks' (who else would think to describe an obnoxious drunk like that?) and 'somebody would be going to the Montecito'. Actually, my 'memorization' is not perfect, but the details are still vivied, as in 'Chynna Phillips' when still a baby, things like that. But her aloofness is legend, and although when you meet her, she is exceptiionally warm and adorable, many of her detractors do constantly talk of 'snobbism', etc. But she really made that house on Franklin come to life, the way Chicken Delite guys would just walk in the door unnannounced.

I've liked all of Didion's books, and have read them all, some several times, but 'The White Album' is one of my favourite of all books, and had a great influence on me. I think her last novel 'The Last Thing He Wanted' is the best of the novels, but after what she's been through with the loss of all her family, it often seems unlikely she'll ever write another novel. Although we'll get the occasional NYReview of Books piece.

I've been to five readings, from about 1998 through 2005, and her reading is funny too; she reads all of her texts in a monotones, as if she's bored to death with them.

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I bought the Everyman's Library Joan Didion volume "We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction" which includes everything up to but not including "The Year of Magical Thinking". At just under 1,100 pages it perfect for someone who is entranced by her prose to simply wallow in for an afternoon.

Didion can write about almost anything and make it interesting--perhaps not the subject matter as such but make the essay worth reading because she constructs sentences as well as anyone writing in English that I have read. She talked about typing out Hemingway's stories to see how sentences worked.

My favorite is "Salvador" which conveys the chronic dread created by the possibility of violence from unpredictable and unstable armed men.

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Just finishing "Netochka Nezvanova"-(by Mr. Dostoyevsky :thumbsup: ). This was his very first publication, and although never completed, the themes and issues which dominate his later novels are all here: the extreme suffering of the individual, the recurrent questions on spirituality, the inspiration of madness and above everything, the position of the main character on the expiation of sin. It is a little book, but very intense...too much at times.

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I just finished Alison Weir's "The Lady In The Tower", a superb, highly detailed and moving book about the last days of Anne Boleyn's life. Highly recommended!

Thanks for the recommendation on this. It came in last week to the the library where I work and I'm going to try to grab it as soon as it's cataloged.

Right now I'm reading Tchaikovsky by Roland John Wiley. It's tough going, there are alternating chapters of chronological events and the technical analysis of the music written during those events. My own background in music is limited; I can read music but just barely so much of the detail here goes over my head.

It's also very heavily peppered with source citations which are noted in a complex way. Also a lot of details are presented in bullet point, which seems a bit unusual for a biography.

All this is to say that I'm probably not the real target audience for this volume. Still, I can skim over parts and focus on a lot of very rich detail. I'm finding Wiley's analysis of "missing" documentation, (i.e. letters and other correspondence) which Modest and other "groomers" made disappear also interesting.

At this point I'm in the last five years of Tchaikovsky's life and so I'm getting swept along in that.....

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Right now I'm reading Tchaikovsky by Roland John Wiley. It's tough going, there are alternating chapters of chronological events and the technical analysis of the music written during those events. My own background in music is limited; I can read music but just barely so much of the detail here goes over my head.

It's also very heavily peppered with source citations which are noted in a complex way. Also a lot of details are presented in bullet point, which seems a bit unusual for a biography.

All this is to say that I'm probably not the real target audience for this volume. Still, I can skim over parts and focus on a lot of very rich detail. I'm finding Wiley's analysis of "missing" documentation, (i.e. letters and other correspondence) which Modest and other "groomers" made disappear also interesting.

At this point I'm in the last five years of Tchaikovsky's life and so I'm getting swept along in that.....

I'm going to look at this, and the series's bio of Schubert as well. Thanks!

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That's a wonderful book, one of my favorite ballerina autobiographies.

All this is to say that I'm probably not the real target audience for this volume. Still, I can skim over parts and focus on a lot of very rich detail. I'm finding Wiley's analysis of "missing" documentation, (i.e. letters and other correspondence) which Modest and other "groomers" made disappear also interesting
.

I had the same difficulty and I find Wiley most readable for dipping purposes - when I have questions about the original "Swan Lake," for example, or any other specific area where curiosity requires satisfaction.

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Right now, taking baby steps back into books (personal interference, etc.), haven't read one for 6-8 months by buying Lee Server's Ava Gardner bio for a buck--hokily written, oh lord yes it is corny, I mean the intro just awful, but I'll find out some good detail. Never read a bio of her, although is one of my favourite stars. Am also going read Server's book on Mitchum for same reason, probably my favourite Hollywood man besides Coop.

What I plan to get to next will be more serious, and I really want to read this: Eyal Weizman's 'The Hollow Land: Israel's Policy of Occupation', but no NYPL copy and the cheapest on eBay or amazon is going to be $25 + with the shipping. I'll look at the Strand. I've gotten spoiled about the books, and won't buy them unless they're going to be an art book or something you couldn't get any other way.

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A really interesting book - Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea it is by Barbara Demick.

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Taking a break from other stuff to tour the crime centers of Italy with Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series. The bizarre excesses and corruption of Italian politics, business, and pop culture in the days of Berlusconi and his immediate predecessors make each of these books an eye-opener. Zen is no white knight. He has his own problems and fights crime and corruption with less-than-legal tactics of his own.

Owing to the complexities of our county public library system, I'm reading the books out of order. So far, Dead Lagoon (4th in the series but the first I read) is the one that absorbed me the most. Only Cosi Fan Tutti (which draws its improbable subplot from Mozart's opera) is the only disappointing volume.

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I've gotten spoiled about the books, and won't buy them unless they're going to be an art book or something you couldn't get any other way.

You could borrow my sister's philosophy -- buy it, read it, sell it.

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I just started a school vacation, so am happily reading what I please for a change. Currently, it's Robt. Gottlieb's Reading Dance. I'm skipping through at the moment, picking and choosing. Also, thanks to Ed Waffle, I'm about to begin reading Val McDermid's crime novels about Tony Hill, the psychologist profiler. I had discovered on the crime novel thread that the BBC series I've been watching, "Wire in the Blood," is loosely based on the McDermid books. I finished watching the TV series today (LOVED it!) and will begin McDermid's first Tony Hill book tonight. I guess I'm discovering that I like crime novels. Nice to be back to my own choices for the next two weeks.

However, I've begun one Italian lit book that's on the reading list for one of my tutees: The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani. It takes place beginning the 1930's in Italy, and is about a Jewish family. So I know right there that this is going to be a sad read.

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I haven't read the book but Vittorio De Sica did make a movie of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, which I understand is close to the original, and it is indeed a sad story. I would be interested to hear what you think of it.

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I haven't read the book but Vittorio De Sica did make a movie of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, which I understand is close to the original, and it is indeed a sad story. I would be interested to hear what you think of it.

The De Sica film is very sad but also very atmospheric. I've never read the book either but was moved by the film.

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I suspect I'll have to watch the film, too. My student had to do so with The Leopard and with The Conformist. This is why I love my work!

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vagansmom, I look forward to hearing what you -- and your student -- think about Garden of the Finzi Continis (the book).

I read this a few years before the film was made. Bassano, as a novelist, has the advantage of being able to devote more time and attention to context. This, for me at least, always enriches characters, especially when their fates are so entwined with matters of social class, religious identity, the rise of Fascism, etc. There is something very singular about life in Ferrara -- with its subclass of wealthy, educated, assimilated Jews, living in denial about Fascism and then having to cope with it --- that the novel captures well.

It would be interesting to take a look at novel and film side by side. De Sica, as I remember it, opted for a simpler, more visually beautiful, more elegiac, more "glamourous" treatment. This works as a film -- I can still see a number of the scenes in my visual memory, decades later, especially Dominique Sanda's Micol -- but it is not the whole story.

P.S. There are those who criticize Visconti's The Leopard for getting bogged down with too MUCH context. For me, that is what makes the film so memorable. But this may just be a matter of personal taste.

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I just finished the memoirs of Her Serene Highness Princess Romanovsky-Krassinsky-(no other than Mathilde Kschessinska... :huh: ), which I loved. Curiously, in this detailed account of the long life-(99 years)-of K., all the great Mariinsky ballerinas of the last years of the Imperial Ballet get their spot-(Preobrajenska, Karsavina, Trefilova, Egorova, Pavlova, etc) and even Bolshoi's Geltzer, along with her younger followers-(Danilova, Doubrovska). Everybody BUT Spessivtseva. Not only once . I wonder why...

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Louis Auchincloss's 'East Side Story', from 2003, brilliant in its portraits of Old New York, as usual. After his death and the article dirac linked to, I realized that there was a LOT of information I could find out from Auchincloss, and that fiction is the most enjoyable route to it, although he's got a lot of books on authors like James and many others I want to look at too.

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Currently about halfway through the Ashton biography. And for a change of pace starting my third trip through Paul Scott's Raj Quartet.

Scanning through this thread, yours is seemingly the only DANCE book people are reading here. I read the Ashton bio quite some time ago and loved it. I assume you are referring to the Julie Kavanaugh one.

I have just been re-reading a paperback I picked up back during the 1980s called DANCE AS LIFE by Franklin Stevens. It's about a season he spent with American Ballet Theater, not as a dancer but as an observer. As I joined ABT a year or so after he was there and the book was published, I know he wrote a very accurate account of the daily life in American Ballet Theater. I wonder if you or anyone else has ever read that fascinating book, now out of print.

Another thing is that I actually knew Franklin Stevens when we were teenage dance students at the same time in NYC. Same teachers, same kind of strugging dance student life.

I don't think he has written much else, but Ive often wondered if Franklin is still around or whatever became of him. If anyone on Ballet Talk has heard of him or know anything about him, I would really like to know so I could get in touch.

I've also just finished "Somewhee" the life of Jerome Robbins. It's incredible to see the amount of research Amanda Vaill must have done to write this fascinating biography because Robbins was such a complicated man.

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I just finished Julia Child's "My Life in France", which I found delightful. I was so sad when the book ended, she seemed to enjoy life so much.

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Louis Auchincloss's 'East Side Story', from 2003, brilliant in its portraits of Old New York, as usual.

I recently read "Her Infinite Variety" (2000), about a very bright and headstrong but rather cold woman who makes a career for herself in publishing in the early and mid-20th century. It was a fun read, as I knew it would be, and Clara, who I found sympathetic at first, regained my sympathy for a moment of generosity at the very end.

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I just finished Julia Child's "My Life in France", which I found delightful. I was so sad when the book ended, she seemed to enjoy life so much.

I enjoyed reading this back a year or two ago. Since then I've ready Nancy Barr's Backstage with Julia which was very interesting. But most recently I read the rather plain A Life by Laura Shapiro. The book had very little material that hadn't been published elsewhere EXCEPT for revealing Child's very strong, open , vocal, homophobia.This was ironic, her father was a good old fashioned bigot; blacks, Jews, women, etc and Julia struggled endlessly with him to try to get him to adapt a more diverse outlook. But Julia was perfectly willing to snicker over the "pedalinos" who seemed to be everywhere to her and whose presence she resented and ridiculed.

Not the only icon with feet of clay, unfortunately.....

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Scanning through this thread, yours is seemingly the only DANCE book people are reading here. I read the Ashton bio quite some time ago and loved it. I assume you are referring to the Julie Kavanaugh one.

Hello, Richka. Although dance books come up in this forum as people post about what they're reading, the place for more extensive discussion of dance books is the Writings on Ballet forum. You might try there looking there.

Thank you to everyone for keeping this thread going. :D

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I just finished the memoirs of Her Serene Highness Princess Romanovsky-Krassinsky-(no other than Mathilde Kschessinska... ), which I loved.

It's a great read, but you might now like to try Coryne Hall's Imperial Dancer - Mathilde Kschessinska and the Romanovs,which is a complete biography of Kschessinska, published in 2005. Hall knows a great deal about Russia in that period and has had access to a number of unpublished diaries, letters and papers. It's perhaps less romantisised than Dancing in Petersburg, but fascinating nonetheless and Kschessinska comes across as a remarkable woman.

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I just finished the memoirs of Her Serene Highness Princess Romanovsky-Krassinsky-(no other than Mathilde Kschessinska... ), which I loved.

It's a great read, but you might now like to try Coryne Hall's Imperial Dancer - Mathilde Kschessinska and the Romanovs,which is a complete biography of Kschessinska, published in 2005. Hall knows a great deal about Russia in that period and has had access to a number of unpublished diaries, letters and papers. It's perhaps less romantisised than Dancing in Petersburg, but fascinating nonetheless and Kschessinska comes across as a remarkable woman.

Couldnt agree more with Alymer, Coryne Hall's biography is absolutely marvellous. I think I have said so before on this forum, but I will certainly keep on saying it until everybody has read the book!

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