Thursday, November 29, 2007

My meme

I made up a meme.
Using your first initial to begin each answer, list:
a favorite author
a favorite character in literature (with source)
a favorite book
a favorite topic in fiction
a favorite location in fiction (can be real place so long as it's used in fiction)
a favorite place or time to read
(bonus) a favorite word

My answers, using my given name, not my screen name:
Lovecraft (at one time)
Lysistrata, from the eponymous play by Aristophanes
Little Black Sambo
Life with animals (e.g. - - in books by James Herriott and others)
Lazy days, lounging in bed
Lightning! (I love its combination of tremendous power and tremendous beauty)
Everyone is welcome to answer this meme, too.
(submitted by Moon Rani)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Books into movies - take 2

What book would I most want to see filmed? The Ladies, a novel by Doris Grumbach. I've wondered often why it never was filmed. It's such a good story!

In the late 18th century, two Irish women decided to leave their family homes and create a life for themselves in the wider world. Sarah, an orphaned teenager, met Eleanor while on holiday from school. Eleanor, a woman in her thirties whose father had never forgiven her for being a daughter instead of the son he longed for, had dressed as a man from childhood and had enjoyed the kind of freedom that few traditional women could imagine. They became dear friends and companions, and their friendship was considered salutary by their families - until they eloped.

Lesbian love, even (and especially) loving relationships that were true marriages of hearts, minds, and bodies, shocked the families into allowing Sarah and Eleanor to leave their homes. They never returned. Instead, they established themselves in a small Welsh town, Llangollen, where they lived according to their own vows and beliefs. That their love was as natural as any was their first vow of binding. They vowed to create a beautiful home with bountiful gardens to sustain them, and to read and study to develop their minds and hearts.

Dressed in the riding habits and top hats that Eleanor designed as their lifelong fashion, they lived a solitary life in the puzzled town, and refused to allow themselves to be sensationalized when they attracted notice. Gradually, they received the visitors who would make them famous - Wordsworth, Byron, Walter Scott, Edmund Burke, Richard Shackleton, Josiah Wedgewood, and Anna Seward, amongst others. They grew old together, and they died together; their love never faltered.

Now, imagine the movie! Since there will be no more Merchant/Ivory productions, I would like Jane Campion to direct because of her skill in depicting women who make brave and difficult choices amidst natural or social beauty. (Think "The Piano" or "Portrait of a Lady," and imagine the Ladies against the expanses of rural Wales.) Picture Sarah's resplendent gardens, the house that the Ladies decorated, and the immense bed they shared; picture their beloved cow and the artichokes they feasted on with freshly-churned butter. The movie would be a visual treat.

Emma Thompson might be a good choice for the older, more assertive Eleanor. I can imagine Kate Winslett as Sarah, blonde and emotional, comforting Eleanor through her monthly migraines, knitting delicate stockings and gloves, and designing the gardens that would be so admired. Who would portray their famous friends? I'll leave that to you,the casting director, although I might suggest Anthony Hopkins as Sir Walter Scott, and (dare I say) Hugh Laurie as Lord Byron.

Perhaps you are puzzled, wondering why real-life luminaries are including in this fiction. Simple: Doris Grumbach's novel is a fictionalized biography of two very real, very brave women: Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, the Ladies of Llangollen. Did Sarah suffer from debilitating dreams and lingering guilt about her sexual preference? Did Eleanor develop a passion for magic in her later years? Grumbach cautions the reader to remember that her book is fiction, her own vision, and not a faithful biography. I think it would make a splendid film, and I recommend the book as a fine romance and a vision of the lives of two pioneering women.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Books into movies, take #1

Do you picture all the action in book as you read? I do; always have. Sometimes a book leaves me simply panting for a film version, despite Hollywood's mostly miserable track record in doing this.

So let's imagine that it's possible to have a perfect screen adaptation of a terrific book. And let's also imagine that all the casting, directing, costuming, scoring and other production choices are ours, all ours. Which book would you choose?

This is a tough one because I can think of so many answers. But as I pondered this question today, the first book that came to mind was...the Biblical Book of Esther. The setting is in and around the ancient kingdom of Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), about 485-464 B.C. King Ahasueru lived in a fabulous, fortified palace furnished with linen, precious metals, black marble, white marble, alabaster, turquoise and more. He was served on golden vessels. I can just see what is called "the riches of his glorious kingdom and the splendor of his excellent majesty!"

Queen Vashti wasn't interested in her king, so a beauty contest was ordered to find her replacement Imagine all the pageantry there must have been in that contest! We're told that "beauty preparations" were given the young women, and that it took them twelve whole months to prepare for the competition.

The intrigue and suspense begin when beautiful Esther, a Hebrew woman, enters the contest at her uncle's urging. King Ahasuerus is not Hebrew, and Mordecai, Esther's uncle, tells her to keep mum about her heritage for the time being. Mordecai and Esther team up to save the king from a deadly plot on his life. She rises high in the king's estimation.

Enter wicked Haman, a treacherous and conniving man who breathes blood and murder against the Hebrews. Haman puts into motion a plot against them, setting up the king to make a decree that keeps Haman's hands clean yet will, if accomplished, result in all-out genocide.

What happens next to everyone is familiar to everyone who celebrates Purim and to all who remember their Bible history. Some of the characters shall rise and one shall fall in a particular stroke of poetic justice.

What a story - - it has everything! There is opulence, intrigue, romance, action and suspense, outrage and satisfaction, fascinating and fully-rounded characters plus an ending that delivers just deserts to one and all - - everything that plays well on the big screen.
Now let's see, whom do I want to play the leads...?
(submitted by Moon Rani)

Friday, November 16, 2007


Iz bin tagged! [Does it show that I've been at ?]

TeaBird tagged me for a meme. I am to open the book I am reading, turn to page 161, and read the fifth sentence. After I share it with you, dear reader, I am to tag five other bloggers.

I am reading What Went Wrong? The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, by Bernard Lewis. The book itself concludes at page 160, but there is an author's note on 161: "My thanks are due to the organizers of these various events for giving me the opportunity to formulate my views and put them before an informed audience."

Ah, now comes the hard part; finding five other bloggers! I know only one, and that's Diane at . You're it, Diane!
(submitted by Moon Rani)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Booking through Thursday

Would you say that you read about the same amount now as when you were younger? More? Less? Why?

When I first read this question, I wondered...My goodness, how can I quantify my reading? Is "reading more" equal to finishing more books? Spending more time reading? Reading fatter books? Finishing more books?

I've always been a voracious and indelicate reader. I'll read almost anything except (and sorry, I don't mean to be a snob here, I just can't get into...) romances (and that says more about me than about the genre, trust me). I go through binges where I'll read nothing but biographies, or nothing but an entire series of paperback mysteries, or the entire works of Barbara Pym (for the 18th time, at least). Other times, I'll read poetry, or go through art books, or read Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries as if they were cookbooks. (Actually, I don't read cookbooks. I don't cook.) I'll read Wilkie Collins, Stephen King (love his book on writing!), Charles de Lint, Alfred Bester, Louisa May Alcott...

Is this more or less than I read when I was younger? Well, obviously, I have a full-time job, and a full-time house, and a full-time husband... so I have less time to read. That doesn't mean I read less, and it doesn't mean that I don't get as engrossed in a book as I once did. If anything, I appreciate the time I grab for reading, knitting, and writing letters more than when I was young. (I appreciate everything more now, but that's another post.)

I think that's my answer. I can't really quantify whether I read more or less, but I appreciate my reading and time more.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Booking Through Thursday"

Oh, Horror! What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?
Ah, adolescence, when nothing seems too scary or horrible! I read the scariest books I could get my greedy, little hands on then; I devoured Poe and I swallowed Lovecraft whole. This was during a period when I was fascinated by the rogues galleries and chambers of horrors in wax museums, too.
During most of my adulthood so far, I eschewed horror fiction in favor of true crime and murder mysteries. I threw out only one true crime book that was too much for me, and read as many of the rest as I could. I read some Stephen King, but I found myself disappointed by his writing every time. He has a gift for telling stories, but I don't like the stories he tells. I quit reading his works after Cujo and some short story collection of his. I am still baffled by those who enjoy reading about eating oneself or haunted cars or things to do with dead children and other unsavory topics. I guess I had a few standards during my horror reading days
During this autumn, however, I realize that I cannot tolerate that kind of books anymore. I find them incompatible with a truly dedicated Christian life. I also find them depressing to the point of despair. I am reminded of the computer anacronym, GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. It's much harder to maintain an upbeat attitude when I fill my head with horror, true or otherwise.
I was also a decided fan of the mystery novel, but I quit reading fiction a couple of years ago; it wasn't deliberate, it was just that my tastes lay elsewhere. I still enjoy the grand, old masters of mystery - - Sayers, Christie, Marsh and others of their kind for their craft in writing.
As for all-out horror, however, no I've not read anything in that genre in decades. You know what? I don't miss it.
(submitted by Moon Rani)