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What are you reading?Summer 2010


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#31 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 05:06 AM

the book is really quite good, leonid. although i have found the entire text on line somewhere, i'd recommend actually getting a copy of the original edition, which could be had for a decent price on line, last time i looked.

#32 leonid17

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 09:21 AM

the book is really quite good, leonid. although i have found the entire text on line somewhere, i'd recommend actually getting a copy of the original edition, which could be had for a decent price on line, last time i looked.



Thank you for the information. It was kind of you.

What I will do, is to request it from my local public library and read it on my journeys in and out of London.

Thank you again.

#33 GWTW

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 11:43 PM

I'm currently reading "The Count of Monte Cristo" (in English). Somehow I had never read it or even seen any film adaptation. Before that I read John Le Carre's 'A Most Wanted Man.
Very interesting to note that the plot of 'Monte Cristo' effectively begins up where 'A Most Wanted Man' ends.

#34 dirac

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:34 AM

I tried to read 'The Count of Monte Cristo' many moons ago and didn't finish it. It wasn't bad, but Dumas' leisurely tempo wasn't what I was used to. The two movie versions I like best are the old Robert Donat one and a made-for-TV version with Richard Chamberlain that I remember as very enjoyable.

#35 GWTW

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 11:30 PM

Dumas' leisurely tempo wasn't what I was used to.


No, the tempo is not at all what we are used to these days. The dust jacket of my book, printed in 1965, states that 'the book thunders on from melodrama to melodrama', but it's a very slow-gathering storm.

Richard Chamberlain as Dantes? The book describes him as very-dark haired and, after being imprisoned, very pale skin, something like Keanu Reeves. In fact, Reeves would also fit the melancholic-yet-inscrutable look the Count affects.

#36 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 03:48 AM

Dumas' leisurely tempo wasn't what I was used to.


No, the tempo is not at all what we are used to these days. The dust jacket of my book, printed in 1965, states that 'the book thunders on from melodrama to melodrama', but it's a very slow-gathering storm.

Richard Chamberlain as Dantes? The book describes him as very-dark haired and, after being imprisoned, very pale skin, something like Keanu Reeves. In fact, Reeves would also fit the melancholic-yet-inscrutable look the Count affects.


The Count of Monte Christo seems to be in the air this week: from "The Billionaire and the Book Lover," an article in this week's New York on the battle between Leonard Riggio and Ronald Buckle over Barnes and Noble:


The founder, chairman, and guiding spirit of the company that calls itself the "world's largest bookseller" is a slight, mustachioed 69-year-old with a Napoleonic temperament. But when he talks about books he fills with sentimentality. Riggio wanted to say something, but he couldn't quite find the words, so he burst out of his chair and charged over to one wall. "I don't know how you can intellectualize this," he said, "but a book is " To continue his thought, he pulled down a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, shook it, felt its substance. "This bound volume of Dumas is content. We have to understand people want to own this content. They want this. It's very important."



Riggio was trying to say that, whatever becomes of books as physical objects in this new age of digital distribution, he is certain people will still pay for the pleasure of reading. Assuming he's right, the more pertinent question is whether they will be spending their money at a Barnes & Noble.



#37 Bonnette

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 08:04 AM

I'm just starting Sjeng Scheijen's biography of Diaghilev - have only read a couple of chapters, but the translation so far seems fluid and I like the writing style.

For those who are interested, I came across a link to Alastair Macaulay's New York Times review of the book - here it is.

#38 Ambonnay

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 11:25 AM

Next on my list:

Waiting: A Novel, by Ha Jin
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande: A Passion for Wine, by David Haziot and Anne Garde
The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History, by Gregory Zuckerman

#39 Helene

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 07:24 PM

I looooovvvve "The Count of Monte Cristo", the unabridged version. It's time for a re-read once I finish the book I've just started.

I just finished "Dumbing Us Down" by John Taylor Gatto. While I agree with his description of a prison-like school system, I think his nostalgic vision of family is through three layers of rose-colored glasses.

Before that I read Doug Hardy's "Six Fundamentals to Building a Lifelong Career", which means there's a glimmer of reality making its way through denial, and I'll start looking for a job soon. (But not too soon...)

#40 dirac

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Posted 27 August 2010 - 08:52 PM

Dumas' leisurely tempo wasn't what I was used to.


No, the tempo is not at all what we are used to these days. The dust jacket of my book, printed in 1965, states that 'the book thunders on from melodrama to melodrama', but it's a very slow-gathering storm.

Richard Chamberlain as Dantes? The book describes him as very-dark haired and, after being imprisoned, very pale skin, something like Keanu Reeves. In fact, Reeves would also fit the melancholic-yet-inscrutable look the Count affects.


Very slow gathering, as I remember. It's been years since I've seen the TV movie but Chamberlain was good. Keanu could certainly look the part but I'm afraid at some inappropriate point that Valley Boy diction he's never quite been able to shed would appear. ( It's too bad there was never a Bill and Ted's Excellent Dumas Adventure.)

Those all sound interesting, Ambonnay. Goodwin is not my favorite popular historian but her books generally read well.

#41 bart

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Posted 28 August 2010 - 03:16 AM

The dust jacket of my book, printed in 1965, states that 'the book thunders on from melodrama to melodrama', but it's a very slow-gathering storm.

Very slow gathering, as I remember.

You raise some interesting points. The experience of "time" was probably quite different from ours. Since novels like this were usually written for serializing in the popular press, I also suppose that the reader usually read in smaller bursts than we are used to, and then set the work aside for a week or a month.

Each episode -- like a tv dramatic serial today -- had to have a certain amount of back story, with a certain amount of short-hand (assuming prior knowledge) as well. The episode was the unit. It was digested and discussed around whatever passed for water-coolers in those days. The author build the work around it and told you when it was over by just cutting off the print.

Also, long verbal descriptions of visuals probably had a very different effect on people in the 19th century than they do on us, saturated as we are with visual imagery that gives us a kind of fantasy-memory of worlds that we have not, in fact, experienced. We often don't need -- or feel that we don't need -- all that detail.

(Ballet analogy: all those over-detailed ballet librettos and visually over-stuffed productions of full-length ballets which survive today only in history books.)

Just as we "can't go home" to the way we experienced childhood, I suspect that readers today can't go home to the way their fellow-readers experienced these works so long ago.

I confess to not having read Dumas or Hugo since I was very very young. Other 19th-century writers, however, thosewhose sense of human psychology is more complex and whose treatment of larger issues seem more relevant, continue to demand attention.

#42 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 02:25 PM

I'm about half way through Spilling the Beans, and one observation I'll make right away is that it's very very intense, almost painful to read. She doesn't seem to have held anything back, yet I don't feel it's too wordy, just incredibly intense. Based on what I've read so far, I'd already recommend it though. It's just not light reading (with the exception of a few things as she does seem to have quite a sense of humor).

What I found interesting is that evidently other than the fact that neither she nor Jennifer Paterson are/were thin, is the fact that the title "Two Fat Ladies" actually comes from slang used in a bingo hall to represent the number 88!

Anyway I'm enjoying it a great deal, it's just not a quick and easy read.

#43 vipa

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Posted 29 August 2010 - 05:34 PM

Next on my list:

Waiting: A Novel, by Ha Jin
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Chateau Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande: A Passion for Wine, by David Haziot and Anne Garde
The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History, by Gregory Zuckerman


Team of Rivals is a great book. It really gives a good picture of the time, the people involved and the political positioning of all.

A wonderful page turner of a book that I just read is Isabelle Allende's new novel - The Island Beneath the Sea. It takes place in Haiti prior to and during the Haitian revolution and then moves to Louisiana in the early 1800's. It is interesting in how timely it is.

#44 papeetepatrick

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 08:22 AM

Cynthia O'Neal's new Speak Softly: A Memoir.

I've long been a huge admirer of this beautiful lady, and only recently discovered that this memoir had been published, just doing a bit of Googling. Although not so much a writer per se, it's nicely written.

There have been a number of threads about her regarding O'Neal's Baloon, which was finally closing, and Michael O'Neal, her brother-in-law, was speaking of her 'wonderful eye' and I believe she commissioned the mural of the NYCB dancers that's just been donated to Koch Theater. She was always an enthusiastic balletomane, and close friend of Rudolph Nureyev, who is discussed in the book (although I don't know how much yet, having read about 50 pages last night.)

This clears up a lot of things I had wanted to know about her, the widow of actor Patrick O'Neal, and who had fascinated me early on in her luminous role as 'Cindy' in Mike Nichols's 'Carnal Knowledge'. I met her at a party a couple of years after the film was made, and was most thrilled.

The text goes back and forth in time, with the High Life chronicled (they lived at the Dakota and were close friends of the Bernsteins), and her gradual immersion into a fulltime work in helping people with life-threateing diseases like AIDS and cancer. This started with some of the same things I used to be more interested in, and those were interesting to compare: I used to value the Course in Miracles (I don't now, a lot of us go through a New Agey sort of phase and then conclude it), she preferred Marianne Williamson's version of it in her lectures (I heard one of these and didn't care for it), and was also fairly involved with EST of Werner Erhard, which never interested me, although many of my friends took it. After meeting some of these 'spiritual leaders' that were working specifically in the support of AIDS sufferers like Louise Hay, and for a while with Williamson's Manhattan Center for Living, she broke off from that and, with Mike Nichols's help, formed Friends in Deed, which is just down the street from me (didn't know about that any more than I did the studio on 8th St. for Hendrix, which I've still to check out). So that, for some 20 years, she has been visiting people in hospitals and worked as the president and one of the 'facilitators' of the groups which are large support groups for the patients and, I think, 'exhausted caregivers' and grief-stricken survivors. Not really my kind of thing, these groups, although if it weren't so tacky (and it would be), I'd be interested to see her at work in one of the sessions--but that would go against what it's meant for.

She'd been an immediately successful model in San Francisco the minute she looked for work (which hardly comes as any surprise to anyone who saw 'Carnal Knowledge'), and later in London she was in all the fashion mags while Patrick was making a TV series. Had met him in Hollywood, where she was in live TV way back in the mid-50s in the old Matinee Theater.

What may interest others as well as myself is this is not just the 'socialite doing good works', i.e., 'charity balls', but has become her life's work. She's apparently got the strength for being around all this, and it's quite impressive to see someone drawn into this kind of compassionate work after having really had the life of the New York Artistic Elite.

I think it was around 1987 that she became involved in wanting to help in the AIDS epidemic. I don't know for sure when Nureyev was first diagnosed, although I'll report that part when I've finished the book.

This is a truly inspiring person, and the book should appeal on many levels. For me, she's going to always be the calculating, hard and tough 'Cindy' of 'Carnal Knowledge', and some of that still shows (thank God), but she's not the usual 'spiritual healer' type--by a long shot--although she does take all that very seriously.

Highest recommendation.

Edited to add, Sep. 5: Finished the book at home, after reading chunks in Madison Park and Jackson Square Park, near me (and probably near Cynthia's previous apartment, which was somewhere on 14th Street)--it's just sublime, one of the most moving things I've ever read, and which 'resupplies' a sense of something which I'd become rightfully cynical about, but a bit too much so. Not all of what I hadn't liked about some of those programs was fake or false, as with anything else. Some of our paths intersected--I still have some real admiration for Louise Hay, although I'm not exactly the 'crystals type'.

There's a moving chapter on her last visit to see Nureyev at the Dakota with her husband Patrick, in 1992. I recall the time of his death because it was, I think, the same month as Audrey Hepburn's, which had upset me greatly. It's quite a portrait she makes of him as he is about to conduct, despite the advanced stage of his illness.

The book is much more skillfully structured than I realized upon reading the first 50 or so pages, and has a wonderfully intricate movement back and forth through time. While she does talk about the period of her 'new life' with Friends in Deed and her 'previous life' with the Bernsteins, the Greens, Nureyev, parties, the Dakota, the net result is that there is the sense of one: When est was first popular, many of those who took this training, originated by Werner Erhart, did give those of us who hadn't taken it the sense that we 'really just don't know something important'. I resented this intensely, and refused to take it (as I found she had originally when her husband had first discovered it for himself). While I'm glad I didn't, I became quite as arrogant when I was involved with the Course in Miracles, when I believed it literally--I thought those who didn't were 'unenlightened'. These 70s-style programs can be seen more clearly now: They have value: even though I essentially did completely reject the Course in Miracles (if not all of its ideas which might coincide with what I still do cherish), and do not believe even slightly that Helen Shucman penned any of it from 'the Voice' which she claimed--in a most annoyingly understated way--was Jesus Christ; I am sure that this is the original work of Helen Shucman herself, it may even be part of her psychosis that only manifested itself fully in the last 2 years of her life. In any case, the sole interest for me now in A Course in Miracles (popularized by Marianne Williamson on Oprah, and which I read many times during the period I found it credible) is as a creation by Helen Shucman--perhaps even a kind of religious fiction, since she refused to claim authorship--either that, or considered herself a most unusual Jesus Christ. As such it does have a unique literary interest as a strange and bizarre production--somewhat like some of the strange grottoes produced by isolated eccentric artists over decades--although I must say I much prefer Simon Rodia's Watts Towers to ACIM...

'Talk Softly' is no such thing, it is about a fully human life, and one that has been lived most fully--which is to say, admirably and inspiringly selflessly as well as fabulously and lavishly selfishly. I was always right about this gal (lot of fire), and I remember we invented a word together at that party: 'Hospility', which is a contraction of 'hostility' and 'hospitality'.

There are many scenes in the Jonathan Larson's 'Rent' that were based on his experiences in Ms. O'Neal's 'Big Groups'.

#45 papeetepatrick

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 08:23 AM

author-deleted: double-post when I lost connection for few minutes.


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