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Summer reading


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#16 sandik

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 11:28 AM

While I wait for David Mitchell's new novel to come out, I've decided to read Lev Grossman's "Magicians" trilogy, since the final volume has gotten some very favorable reviews. I'm about 2/3 of the way through the first one, and I can't quite figure out who the intended audience is. It's a little more grown up in some of its concerns than your typical young adult novel, but doesn't quite feel adult adult either. I'm thinking maybe a bookish 19 year old who grew up on Narnia and Hogwarts, with a little of Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy thrown in? (Now Pullman's novels are some YA books that adults have every reason to enjoy ...)


Maybe I just know a bunch of geeky kids, but several high schoolers I know are deep into the Magicians books.

#17 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:14 PM

 

Maybe I just know a bunch of geeky kids, but several high schoolers I know are deep into the Magicians books.

 

 

That sounds about right.  I suspect that the Magicians books have the most juice if middle school is behind you, but the magic that Narnia and Hogwarts may have had for you is still fresh in your memory. 



#18 macnellie

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 04:03 AM

Has anyone met "Masie Dobbs"?

#19 Barbara

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 07:05 AM

Thank you Barbara! I know I'll hope back to them--I got caught by them immediately. I'll try"Someone..." never read McDermott.
Thanks again and try Gardam!

Read about the Gardam trilogy and immediately put them on 'my list'. Will read as soon as I'm done with Patrick Melrose!



#20 dirac

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 12:45 PM

Martin Duberman's biography:  The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein.  Massive detail; a comprehensive look at Kirstein and the incredible spheres he inhabited.  Also, Varley O'Connor's The Master's Muse.  I was highly skeptical about this novelization of Tanaquil Leclerc's life from shortly before her life-changing illness until after Balanchine's passing.  But it was really good!  I don't know if the events in it are true or not, but the writing is good and the story has an air of believability.

 

I too was pleasantly surprised by The Master's Muse. There's a spirited discussion of the book in the Writings on Ballet thread.

 

The Kirstein book also sparked discussion in that forum.

 

Great responses, everyone. Keep them coming!



#21 Jack Reed

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:03 PM

No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century.  Not new, either (2003), to continue in the negative, but it's wonderful to have these formerly unrelated individuals and companies, once more or less peripheral to my mind, set in perspective, not to mention a few pages here and there about projects I never heard of before but which read like they would have been a delight to have seen.  That's because Reynolds has found for us, her readers, witnesses who evoke the quality of the movement they saw, if not the specific moves.  

 

But she usually gives no hint what the performances would have sounded like, had we been there, omitting to mention even the composers' names, not that that would go far even in the case of less versatile ones than, say, Stravinsky.  When something is so good, the lapses are the more conspicuous, by contrast.  But what she does give us is so rewarding that it's a real page-turner, for me.

 

Major whoops! here:  "Reynolds" is of course Nancy Reynolds, and the other author of this engrossing read is Malcolm McCormick.  I don't know who did what, but the combination certainly deserves more credit than I gave at first. 


Edited by Jack Reed, 12 September 2014 - 04:05 PM.


#22 ABT Fan

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 11:40 AM

I recently finished "The Good Soldiers" by David Finkel, and am about to start his follow-up book "Thank You For Your Service".



#23 Helene

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 04:10 PM

I just finished Bill Jone's biography of John Curry, "Alone."  I can't say I enjoyed it, because being in the company of Curry, especially as he channeled his inner Jerome Robbins, is not an enjoyable experience, and to his credit, Jones didn't try to make it one.  However, I am very glad I read it and was immersed in his world.  Curry is the greatest skater I've ever seen. I had heard about the Elva Oglanby book, "Black Ice:  Life and Death of John Curry,"  which was quashed by the family after its release, but besides (still) being too pricey, it was much harder to track in the pre-Internet days, and I had forgotten about it.

 

Jones portrays Oglanby, who was trying to be Curry's manager during his creative ice dance company days, fairly, in my opinion.  Jane Hermann, at the time the Met Opera's head of summer planning, comes across worse, through her quotes and her actions.  Oglanby and Spungen took bit hits financially, with Spungen having to file for bankruptcy.

 

It was great to read the words of his biggest British rival, Haig Oundjian, and to see the parallels between how each felt himself to be an outsider in the eyes of the British figure skating establishment, Curry because of perceived effeminacy and Oundjian because of his ethnicity.  I remember seeing photos of Oundjian and seeing him skate, or at least the excerpts shown back then, and I never realized that he had a hard time of it because of his background.

 

It was also great to hear from the people who worked for him, even if their stories were brutal. 



#24 Quiggin

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 11:43 AM

The New Yorker has a list of requirements for a good summer read –

 

I like a summer read to be only as complex as a white cashmere sweater with a whiskey stain on it ...

 

http://www.newyorker...ood-summer-read

 

My white whiskey-stained read so far has been Cesar Aira's new book "The Conversations" concerning an argument between two friends who meet regularly at a cafe. Their conversations usually have a high philosophical tone but one day they decide to settle another sort of question.

 

Why, in the movie both of them have just seen, does a rustic Ukrainian shepherd, played by a famous movie star (Brad Pitt?), appear wearing an expensive Rolex watch? Was this a continuity error – a long interlude on how Hollywood films are made follows – or was it a part of an intricate subtext? The narration slips, like a fugue, between this discussion, the discussion of the discussion, the movie itself with all sorts of crazy characters running around the mountaintops, and the narrator recounting all of this to himself at night.

 

 

 

And since there's a big Matisse paper cut-outs show making the rounds and Matisse is always something of a summer pleasure, I have been reading different critiques about his work, about how it all works and when it doesn't.

 

Unlike the Cubists who wanted to objectify the space between objects, make space as physical as objects,  Matisse wanted to make the spaces between things as ambiguous as possible... Which made me think of the spaces in Ratmansky's Trilogy, how he loosens his reins on space, how he tightens them up; his "arabesquing" patterns and Matisse's. (One critic, Marcelin Pleynet, breaks Matisse's name open, Ma – Tisse, to become My Weaving-together.)

 

Another interesting difference is that with the Cubists, Picasso especially, is that it was all about touch – the touch of the hand and the guitar to be touched – whereas with Matisse it's about the eye, how the eye runs over things: and the goldfish bowls in the paintings are surrogates for the incessant activity of the eye. (Are there ballets with a scruntizing goldfish-bowl subgroup in them?)

 

In TJ Clark's delightful review of the cut-out show there is this quote from Matisse –

 

Matisse, who admired Monet greatly, thought constantly about the contrast between a painting devoted to pleasure and the agony involved in its production:

A man who makes pictures like the one we were looking at [he is writing to his son about Rouault’s The Manager and a Circus Girl, but no doubt also about himself] is an unhappy creature, tormented day and night. He relieves himself of his passion in his pictures, but also in spite of himself on the people round him. That is what normal people never understand. They want to enjoy the artist’s products – as one might enjoy the milk of a cow – but they can’t put up with the inconvenience, the mud and the flies.

 

 

http://www.lrb.co.uk...rge-to-strangle



#25 sandik

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Posted 21 August 2014 - 09:13 PM

Quiggin -- your descriptions (of the books and of the film) are all quite engaging, but I was gobsmacked by the url of the web link -- "the urge to strangle"

 

Now there's a cliffhanger!



#26 Quiggin

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 09:30 AM

Sandik, I guess all was not "luxe and calme" with Matisse who uttered the comment. The London Review anyhow does tend to use quick, enigmatic headings like: "Nothing to do With Me", "Go Back to Palo Alto" [James Franco], "I Haven't Yet Been Nearly Mad Enough", "Better Off in A Stocking".

 

And Clark is half -mad though he does touch on good points – the rustle of language, the shudder of motifs through Matisse. The show is coming to the Museum of Modern Art in September and that was the first notice I've seen on it. The cut-outs have always been treated in a easy-going, soft-glove, soft-shoe way, but now it turns out they're as radical as anything Matisse did.

 

Dominique Fourcade, whom Clark cites for bravely calling them failures, says,

 

 

It is touching (and very suggestive) to see Matisse, at the end of his life, bringing his own revolution to its logical conclusion, the result of which (and this is characteristic of all revolutions brought to their logical conclusions) was a glaring contradiction.

 

He had the courage to propose whiteness as a primary and omnipresent element. He had the incredible courage to practice painting as a system of giving shape and breath to the world, a world in which whiteness – that is, nonpaint – had its ineluctable place. He was thus among those who realized that art encompasses the painted and the nonpainted alike.

 

He tried to balance one against the other. And in the end, he was no longer in control of the vast whiteness he had unloosened...

 

 

What choreographers can you think of unleashing such kinds of whiteness or negative space on stage? Wayne MacGregor a little, mayble Balanchine in Bugaku?

 

And I wonder what Balanchine – or Ashton of Symphonic Variations – would have thought of this painting of 1917, Bathers By a River? It was to hang along the earlier idyllic Dance and Music paintings in the house of a collector in Russia. But it was postponed and by then it was the middle of World War I and Matisse had seen and studied Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon.

 

Bathers By a River in turn hung for a long time in a gallery in New York in the late forties where it was closely studied by Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman.

 

http://www.artic.edu...ch_no=1&index=0

 

But back to summer reading & Kawabata's Izu Dancer ...



#27 sandik

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 10:45 AM

Well, I'd suggest Cunningham, but I often do (suggest Cunningham)



#28 canbelto

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 07:09 PM

Quick summer reading: a dishy biography of Johnny Carson by his former lawyer/friend. I think a lot of it is gossip but a lot of it rings very true as it's consistent with other accounts of Carson's personality (including Ed McMahon). It's weird how so many comedians seem to be extremely cold, unapproachable people when they're not telling jokes.



#29 dirac

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 04:35 PM

There was a PBS American Masters show on Carson that was just depressing to watch - broken marriages, broken friendships. Stuff you'd really rather not know if you ever liked watching the guy. However, personality freeze isn't limited to comedians. Last summer I read Jane Fonda's memoir, and the brrr factor was very high in any household headed by Henry Fonda. 

 

macnellie writes:

 

 

Has anyone met "Masie Dobbs"?

 

I haven't, but I'd be interested to hear from someone who has. Share, please. smile.png



#30 macnellie

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Posted 05 September 2014 - 04:54 PM

Very good mystery series. England WWI through 30's. First one is " MasieDobbs." By Jacqueline Winspear. Check them out!!

...and let me know if you like them!


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