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Showing posts from February, 2018

February Reviews - Lightning Round!

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Tender Is the Night - F. Scott Fitzgerald - (no rating) Biggest disappointment of the year so far; did not finish.
The Atlas of Beauty - Mihaela Noroc - 3 stars An interesting library book.  Somewhat repetitive; would've  preferred less social-political commentary.
Embers - Sándor Márai - 4 stars Surprisingly great!  European history buffs will appreciate  this ruminating novel.  Full review here.
Poetry of the First World War - ed. Marcus Clapham - 3 stars Not an easy or pretty read, but a sobering one.  More thoughts here.
Moonflower - Jade Nicole Beals - 4 stars Poems of peace and introspection; this was a refreshing read.
Anthem - Ayn Rand - 2 stars Great concept, so-so execution.  Full review here.
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote - 1 star Writing style on point, story not my cuppa.  More thoughts here.
This has not been the month for in-depth, written reviews, and I'm feeling a bit sheepish about that.  Work has been so busy; I've gone from one big project to the next, whi…

Liberty: Ayn Rand vs. Truman Capote - Episode 15

Two runaways, two worlds, and the pursuit of freedom.  This week's episode covers Anthem and Breakfast at Tiffany's, two American classics with surprising similarities.

Sources / Further Reading:
Biography of Ayn Rand (Gale)
Biography of Ayn Rand(Encyclopedia Britannica)
Biography of Truman Capote (Encyclopedia Britannica)
"The Legendary Friendship of Harper Lee and Truman Capote"
About Truman Capote (PBS)

Ice Skating to Classic Literature - Friday Thoughts

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Medvedeva's Anna Karenina, from an earlier competition.
I don't usually watch a lot of TV, but that changes as soon as the Winter Olympics comes around.  It feels like the world is just a little (tiny) bit saner when the Olympics goes well, and, of course, I get a thrill out of watching skiing, snowboarding, and bobsledding, which are all pretty close to flying.

But figure skating has that extra special piece to it - the story.  This evening we watched the intense, final showdown between the top two skaters, both hailing from Russia and studying under the same coach.  Oh - and they both skated to music with a classic literature connection!  Alina Zagitova, who won gold, skated to the ballet based on Don Quixote, by composer Leon Minkus.  Evgenia Medvedeva came in a very close second place with her performance to the Anna Karenina soundtrack by Dario Marianelli.  [Marianelli is more famous for his Pride & Prejudice (2005) score.]  

There were other skaters with bookish program…

Embers - A Hungarian Classic - Episode 14

Our journey leads us to a castle in Hungary and Sándor Márai's short but stirring novel, Embers. History takes center stage in the life of the old General, who wakes up one day to take revenge on the man that haunted him for forty-one years.

Sources / Further Reading:
Biography of Sándor Márai (San Diego House of Hungary)
Biography of Sándor Márai (Random House)
Biography of Sándor Márai (Wikipedia)

Rom-Com Opera: Donizetti's L’Elisir d’Amore

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Three years already since my last opera review?!  I feel bad about that and intend to start making it right, firstly with this review of L'Elisir d'Amore ("The Elixir of Love") by Gaetano Donizetti, of Lucia di Lammermoor fame.

Some backstory for newer readers: I've been enjoying operas at the local movie theater, streamed live from the Met, since 2012.  It's a wonderful weekend "excursion" - my cousin, also an opera fan, has joined me in the last couple of years, and I've succeeded in getting my sister and brother interested as well.  Tickets run around $30, but for a 2-4 hour show and the quality of the productions, you definitely get your money's worth.  (That said, I usually only go to 2-3 per season, for budgetary reasons.)

The story of L'Elisir d'Amore is a classic love triangle - a rich, carefree lady named Adina (sung by Pretty Yende) is being aggressively wooed by an arrogant but dashing sergeant, Belcore (baritone Davide Luci…

Wednesday Quote: Holmes

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It's Valentine's Day, and what better time to feature a quote from the lovable Sherlock Holmes?  A self-described scientist who belittles sentiment, Holmes nonetheless often plays the role of knight-in-shining-armor, as in "The Speckled Band."  I love this clip from the TV episode starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and David Burke as Watson.  The dialogue is almost word-for-word from the book! 

Also, if you're interested in more costume dramas from books, I talked about some of my favorites in this week's Classics Considered episode.  Always on the lookout for recommendations, too.  :)

As far as novels go, I've found an interesting read in Embers, by Hungarian author Sandor Marai.  "Interesting" may be an understatement; I can hardly put it down.  Look for that review in the upcoming week...

Classic Literature at the Movies - Episode 13

Great books can make great movies (and, in some cases, better ones).  This week's topic features some of my favorite costume dramas inspired by classics.

Editor's note: In my excitement and haste, it seems I mispronounced Wodehouse's name and called videos VCRs... whoops!  (Oh, and The Young Victoria was 2009, not 2012.  Time does fly.)

The Questions:
First literary drama miniseries you ever watched?Last literary drama you watched?What media forms do you prefer to use when watching period dramas (i.e. purchased DVDs, rented/borrowed DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)?Favorite literary drama soundtrack(s)?Favorite literary musical?Literary drama you'd recommend to anyone?If you could have a new adaptation of your favorite classic book, what would it be and who would star?A favorite pair of literary drama friends?A favorite pair of literary drama enemies?Movies or miniseries with the best costumes?Where I found the questions:
Old-Fashioned Charm (1, 2, 3)
The Madd Rose (qu…

Top Ten Classics Still TBR

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This Top Ten Tuesday theme is about books that have been on the TBR list the longest.  It's been a busy week, but the topic appealed to me so much I didn't want to miss out, even if late. Here's what I have, according to Goodreads:

1. The Federalist, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay
At one point in high school, I had started this and even intended to write thoughts on each section.  I think I will read it someday, but now I'd like to start with Democracy in America or Common Sense (which are as equally embarrassing to have not read).

2. The Mark of Zorro, by Johnston McCulley
One of my favorite film scenes is the duel between Basil Rathbone and Tyrone Power.  I'm sure this is a book I'll enjoy, but somehow I keep forgetting to read it.

3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë
With Charlotte's The Professor, this will be the last Brontë novel for me to read.  I've been remembering it lately, so hopefully in the next year or two it will…

Wednesday Quote: Courage

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"'I will have no man in my boat,' said Starbuck, 'who is not afraid of a whale.' By this, he seemed to mean, not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward."Over the years, I've collected various quotes about or related to courage (it is probably my favorite subject for quotes).  This bit of wisdom from Starbuck is something in particular I've carried with me, I suppose subconsciously.  At work, for example, I have some worries and personal insecurities, and instead of trying to ignore them, I've found it's best to acknowledge, think through, then address them, in that order.  Fortunately, my job is worlds easier than Starbuck's...

What I'm Reading: Poetry of the First World War

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In college I took a history elective on Britain in the 20th century.  That was when I first read poems from WWI and learned it is considered to be, in essence, its own sub-genre.  Since my more recent fascination with T. E. Lawrence, I'd been wanting to return to WWI poetry, so I decided to read this anthology from Macmillan: Poetry of the First World War.

I've been reading it off and on since last fall and am about halfway through.  It's not the kind of subject matter you can simply breeze through.  Right off the bat, there are a couple of cynical, coarse, even insubordinate poems, naturally credited to "Anonymous."  Immediately you get a feeling for the setting, and it is not so neat and tidy as what you see in Downton Abbey, for example. 

From there, the collection goes into various poets by name, including such well-known authors as Graves, Kipling, and even Chesterton.  There is no inclusion of Lawrence's "Dedication" poem, but since the focus s…

Six Classics That Deserve More Love - Episode 12

Looking for your next great read?  This episode features six little-known classics and why I feel they should be famous.

Friday Thoughts: Things I Do When I'm Not Reading

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For better or worse, I'm one of those people that doesn't procrastinate much on things I have to do - work, chores, running errands - but when the end of the day comes around, very often I don't feel like doing what I really want to do (deep down): that is, improve my mind with reading.  My brain says it's too tired to be improved and deserves a break.  I don't really buy it, but I usually end up doing something else anyway, such as:
Play solitaire.  Currently obsessed with Scorpion.Watch YouTube videos (sometimes while playing Scorpion.)Watch a TV show with the family.Find more books to read, on Goodreads (ha ha)."Window shop" online.  (And occasional real shopping.)Work from home.  Those pesky emails...Take a nap. I have, at various times, experimented with a more rigorous schedule.  Last January (2017), I made myself do a lot of study reading, which was nice in retrospect but a bit wearisome at the time.  Nanowrimo 2016 saw me give up all my spare time …