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What Are You Reading?Winter 2010


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#46 kfw

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 05:52 PM

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.

#47 richard53dog

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 06:01 PM

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.....

#48 dirac

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 02:16 PM

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

#49 Alymer

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 03:37 PM

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.

#50 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 03:54 PM

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!

#51 Rosa

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:56 AM

I recently read Geogette Heyer's Cotillion, which simply delightful; I was laughing from beginning to end. Also, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier; I'd never read du Maurier before, and was quickly swept away into the story. I haven't read a lot of "gothic suspense" fiction, but I found the book very enjoyable. Mary was somewhat a different heroine than I'm used to, seemed like a woman ahead of her time.

Currently I've just started Spinning Straw into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations in a Woman's Life by Joan Gould. Should be quite fascinating.

#52 PeggyR

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 06:47 PM

I recently read Geogette Heyer's Cotillion, which simply delightful; I was laughing from beginning to end. Also, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier; I'd never read du Maurier before, and was quickly swept away into the story. I haven't read a lot of "gothic suspense" fiction, but I found the book very enjoyable. Mary was somewhat a different heroine than I'm used to, seemed like a woman ahead of her time.

I really enjoy Heyer too; she's a real palate-cleanser when I've been reading something heavy.

The only du Maurier I've ever read is Rebecca, which I heartily recommend. And if you enjoy the book, then don't miss the Hitchcock film version from c. 1940. They had to change the ending a bit to meet Hollywood code, but it's a good, old-fashioned, 'they don't make them like that anymore' movie.

#53 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:32 PM

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 romanticized than Dancing in Petersburg, but fascinating nonetheless and Kschessinska comes across as a remarkable woman.

Did that already, and you're just right. Some fascinating details about K.'s family, her father Felix, her brother Joseph, her sister Julie. Also interesting how openly does Hall question the memoirs-(dates, facts, "lost" letters, and even the mere authenticity of many of K's claims). Even Anna Anderson into this book as well, at some point Hall mentioning that rumors were that Anderson was no other than the lost daughter of the late Czar Nicholas and Mathilde. :P
Also, currently working on "The Romanovs: The Final Chapter" by Robert K. Massie-(this after being fascinated with one of the most popular icons at the Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral in Helsinki, that of the late Imperial Family). Here Massie develops his story around the aftermath surrounding the death of Czar Nicholas II and his family and the painful testing process to identify their bones. Finally, I just started Charlotte Bronte's "Villette", with her recurrent theme of repressed feelings, social order and the quest for love and Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych"

#54 Ed Waffle

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 05:55 PM

I opened my email and there it was like a vial of crack to an addict: a coupon for 40% at Borders good for two days only.

Which is why I decided to buy "Prefaces to Shakespeare" by Tony Tanner. Written originally for an Everyman's Library edition of the collected plays, published as seven volumes, the prefaces are for the general reader (whoever he or she may be) but by no means simplified in any way other than the lack of scholarly aparatus such as footnotes.

It is a very substantial book at a bit over 800 pages. Since it would take up a lot of shelf space and stare disapprovingly at one if left unread for too long I took advantage of a seat in the cafe with a cup of coffee to dip into the book before buying. The two plays I am most familiar with currently are "Romeo and Juliet" and "The Merchant of Venice". I started with the preface to R&J and a few pages into realized that this is a very good book, confirmed by the preface to "The Merchant of Venice".

Tanner wrote beautifully and clearly knew and loved the plays. His obituary in "The Independent" includes: "To read English at Cambridge in the late Fifties was to have the last opportunity to read the whole canon of English literature. The texts had been agreed for 30 years, the secondary literature was still modest and while history, sociology and anthropology could make contributions to the "central discipline of the modern university", the questions posed by both theory and popular culture had yet to be articulated.

Tanner has a strong claim to be the best reader ever produced by this particular formation and this is the underlying force of all his work."

And much more in that vein. It can be found here: http://www.independe...er-1190187.html

#55 dirac

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:37 PM

Thanks for posting, Ed. Haven't read much of Tanner since college with the exception of the occasional preface, but he was always a pleasure to read.

#56 vagansmom

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 03:41 PM

I'm just about to begin two different books with a NYC setting. The first is a novel, Lowboy, by John Wray. It is narrated by a 16-year old schizophrenic who lives in the subway. I read on Amazon that the author deliberately wrote most of the novel while riding the NYC subways. The other book, Let the Great World Spin: A Novel is written by Colum McCann. It takes place in August, 1974, the month that Philippe Petit walked between the Twin Towers. I believe it details the lives of several different people that month, with Petit's walk the glue that binds the stories together.

Both books came highly recommended by a friend who's never failed me. I'll forever be grateful to her for her recommendation of At Swim, Two Boys.

#57 GianninaM

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 06:08 PM

I'm half-way through The Saint and the Sultan, by Paul Moses. Written in 2009 it tells the story of St. Francis of Assisi's visit with Malik al-Kamil, sultan of Egypt. History is my weak point so I'm getting a look into the time of the Crusades.

Before that I read Men and Angels, the art of James C. Christensen. Fast, beautiful, and it weighs a ton.

Giannina

#58 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 08:24 PM

I just got "Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes" by Judith Mackrell. Can't wait to start reading it. Can't get enough of all those girls...! :wink:

#59 Ray

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:29 PM

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.....


Am into this too and loving it. I really appreciate the attention to the life AND to the work. It made me think, though--why don't biographers of composers take advantage of new technologies and include audio tracks with the musical notation examples? (Dance writers could do the same w/videos, the powers-at-be willing...).

#60 sandik

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:42 PM

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.....


I'm not sure I'd describe this as plain so much as concise -- my understanding is that the Penguin Lives series is designed as a kind of introductory biography rather than a definitive version.

The author, Laura Shapiro, was a dance critic for many years (yes, it's a tiny world) and later, after her attention shifted to food writing, was a columnist for Gourmet. She reviewed the Julie/Julia film last year, before the magazine went out of business, and I think her comment on the balancing of technique and passion applies to dance as well as cooking.

"When Julia went to the Cordon Bleu and learned how to cook—by hand, without fancy equipment, from the ground up—she was also learning that passion and appetite weren’t enough. She needed technique, confidence, patience, and a host of finicky skills that only came with practicing."


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