Archive for August, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald Was Right

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

I recently saw a production of The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.  I first heard of the book version when it received rave reviews in the likes of The New York Times, which said the  book was “…thrilling and engaging – sometimes quite funny – because it ventures to tell the truth (emphasis mine).“  The later play version was equally well received.  So when I got a chance to see it, I grabbed it.  This is despite the fact that the play (and book) are about Joan Didion`s grief process after her husband of 40 years suddenly dies followed shortly by her daughter, not as suddenly but no less devastatingly.  When the play started with the words, “This will happen to you“, I nodded.  Ah yes, death, the universal common denominator.  This play will speak about and for all of us.  What followed was a litany of having to give a quote for the New York Times obituary, turning off CNN because you`re a news item, staying at the Beverly Wilshire because you always stayed there, and references to cross country trips in private medical jets that are so en passant that if you didn`t know better would make you think it was something that was covered by the US healthcare system.  Through this, even in her grief Ms. Didion cannot resist an opportunity to name drop.  It all put me in mind of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The rich are different from you and me.“

A Book by Any Other Name

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

Like the cover on this one too

We all know we can’t judge by its cover (although we inevitably do) but what about its title?  There are some titles that I absolutely love and was convinced on their basis alone that I would like the stuff in between the covers as well.  The one that comes immediately to mind is actually a play – The Designated Mourner by Wallace Shawn – and the one comes to mind after that is non-fiction – Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.  Since both of these are out of keeping from my usual choices, I wonder if I was unduly influenced by the words on the cover.  But titles can conjure up a whole world, fully created and ready for perusal and that can go a long way to putting you down the road to being immersed before even opening the pages.  This can’t be said for the title that made the number one spot on Listopia’s best book titles: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Really, since Listopia is based on your (and our) votes, it’s enough to make one despair in democracy.