Lori's Book Nook

Archive for April 2007

It is an unusual day over at Raincoaster’s blog that I get all nostalgic. Today, she was off on one of her normal rants, and she mentions Il Palio.

No, I’ve never been to Italy (although I want to go). I’ve never dreamed of attending any horse races. Nor am I really the least bit horsey. But, I was a girl who grew up devouring the Marguerite Henry books.  They were good books. And there was always another one to read.

One of my favourites, the plot points still dancing around in my head, was Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio.

What were your favourite kid’s books? And how have they stood the test of time?


How can I resist an //engtech contest?!? Especially one where I can talk about my other favourite thing — movies!

Okay — on to the list. Let’s assume that LOTR is in the list somewhere, but that it’s been over-blogged in the last couple of years. And when I say ‘memorable‘, I mean my memory!

No. 1

I Capture the Castle. The Dodie Smith book of the same name is a delight. It’s in diary form, written by 17-year-old Cassandra, who lives with her rather eccentric family in a broken down old castle. The strength of this rather quiet movie lies in Smith’s background as a playright (and writer of The One Hundred and One Dalmations) — I’ve never seen a movie capture the characters, plot, setting, and essence of a book so well. At no point does it slap you in the face and say “hey! I’m literary! Can’t you tell?” (Unlike the first Harry Potter film…which I watched, anticipating each scene: “Ho hum…now we’re going to get ___ scene.”)

No. 2

A Little Princess (the 1995 version). From the book by Frances Hodges Burnett. Okay, so they added a little dramatic ‘hanging-from-the-eaves’ scene — I don’t mind. At that point in the movie, you’re really in the mood for it. The Miss Minchin character is wonderfully done by the great actor Eleanor Brun. You feel for her and hate her at the same time — brilliant! The story-telling, the ‘magic’, and the relationship between all the girls is beautifully represented. And the colours…each scene is shot with either a dark, earthy green that menaces, or a sunny golden glow that, well, glows.

No. 3

The Power of One. Is this a great movie? No. It’s got some brilliant moments, but overall, I wish it had been more…meaty. Gutsy. Longer. The treatment of the material was sketchy — it’s obvious that Bryce Courtney’s greatest book needs to be made into a BBC mini-series (a la Dune or Gormenghast), not relegated to a shortish Hollywood film. But, they manage to get some of the best bits right in this one — it definitely captures the feel of the book, even though they totally botched the story.

No. 4

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. Is this movie based on the biography Dorothy Parker: Oh What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade? [ooo…a triple whammy. A movie based on a biography of a famous writer!] It doesn’t say that the movie’s writers used the book, but it is the most common biography on Parker, and many of the anecdotes from the book are reproduced verbatim in the movie. (Of course, that means nothing, as all of her friends were literary, everyone in that crowd wrote everything down…) Anyway, it’s a great film, representing the life and times of a great if tragic woman, played with utter perfection by the indomitable Jennifer Jason Leigh!

No. 5

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Okay, I’m cheating on this one. In a sense, the movie came first. But, the author of the movie (and the supposed file cabinets full of material on this character), Earl Mac Rauch wrote a ‘novelization’ of the movie, like no other I’ve ever seen! Usually, a book-from-a-movie is a scene-by-scene rehash of the action. Cheesy. Badly written. Who reads them??? (Okay, I admit, the first book I read in Portuguese when I was living in Brasil was the novelization of ET…and I highly recommend them to language learners because of their screen-to-print regularity.) But this one is different — written from the point of view of one of the main characters, it’s his version of events. And, it’s as wonderful as the film. (If I have to convince you, you’re really not a geek.)

What are your movies?

Oh, today is a sad day for the reading world. From this article:

NEW YORK (AP) – In books such as “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle,” and “Hocus Pocus,” Kurt Vonnegut mixed the bitter and funny with a touch of the profound.

Vonnegut, regarded by many critics as a key influence in shaping 20th-century American literature, died Wednesday at 84. He had suffered brain injuries after a recent fall at his Manhattan home, said his wife, photographer Jill Krementz.

In a statement, Norman Mailer hailed Vonnegut as “a marvelous writer with a style that remained undeniably and imperturbably his own. … I would salute him – our own Mark Twain.”

“He was sort of like nobody else,” said another fellow author, Gore Vidal. “Kurt was never dull.”

Vonnegut’s works – more than a dozen novels plus short stories, essays and plays – contained elements of social commentary, science fiction and autobiography.

The article continues at some length — very good piece.

His official website.

His Wikipedia entry.

I have to commemorate this with a post…I just spent half an hour sorting through all of my posts labeled ‘Book Links’ to differentiate the ones that were links to info about a book to the e-book itself.

So, if you’re like Lydia, and you’re looking for a specific post about an e-book, you’ve only got 20 entries to look through (as of today) instead of….

Keep in mind that I have not distinguished the text versions of books (a la Project Gutenberg) from the sites devoted to scans of of the old and rare.

So, keep reading! 🙂

I found this link ages ago, put it in my blogworthy list, and there it has sat, to wait for a day, like today, when I should be outside, enjoying the sun.

[Living life to the fullest. Thinking new thoughts, maybe even writing some poetry, instead of rehashing other people’s ideas. It’s Easter Sunday…if nothing else, for this atheist, a day to signal the true beginning of Spring. So, a quick blog post, and then I’m outta here!]

Ginsberg’s Celestial Homework — Your site of the day…essentially a:

Specialized Reading List for “Literary History of the Beat Generation,”
a course taught by Allen Ginsberg at Naropa Institute during the summer of 1977.

This “celestial homework” is the reading list that Ginsberg handed out on the first day of his course as “suggestions for a quick check-out & taste of ancient scriveners whose works were reflected in Beat literary style as well as specific beat pages to dig into.”

This is a very great list…with some rather nepotistic choices — many of his contemporaries, like Neal Cassady‘s autobiography The First Third. (Cassady had died almost 10 years before, tragically young, so I’m not really surprised by Ginsberg’s choice.)

I think I’m going to grab some poetry and a beer, and sit on the grass to read aloud.


Book Discussion Pages

Here on the Book Nook you can discuss: The Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, as well as the next two books in the Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders, and if that's not enough for you, see what's up on the forums at BookTalk.org!