I want to apologize for being so neglectful of my blog lately. I've been terribly stressed what with putting in overtime at work and preparing for a cross country move. So please bear with me while I slowly get my blogging schedule back on track. I have a lengthy list of movies (Kinky Boots), obsessions (Coca-Cola Blak), trips (Portland for my Birthday), television shows (So NoTORIous), books (Artrage) etc. that I intend to blog about over the next few weeks. So do keep checking back.
I recently finished Julia Child's My Life in Franceand was so taken with her tales. My Life in France was written by Julia Child in the last few years of her life with the assistance of her grandnephew, writer Alex Prud'Homme. In her memoir Child focuses on her years in France, where she discovered her life's passion, years she considered "among the best in my life." From the Introduction:
“This is a book about some of the things I have loved most in life: my husband, Paul Child; la belle France; and the many pleasures of cooking and eating. It is also something new for me. Rather than a collection of recipes, I’ve put together a series of linked autobiographical stories, mostly focused on the years 1948 through 1954, when we lived in Paris and Marseille, and also a few of our later adventures in Provence. Those early years in France were among the best of my life. They marked a crucial period of transformation in which I found my true calling, experienced an awakening of the senses, and had such fun that I hardly stopped moving long enough to catch my breath."
The book is based in large part on the letters that Julia and her husband Paul wrote to their friends and family back home. Julia's husband Paul was a photographer, artist, poet, and diplomat. Paul played a crucial role in Julia's life and career. Once in France Child found the French amenable and the food delicious. Child enrolled at the Cordon Bleu and "toiled with increasing zeal under the rigorous tutelage of eminence grise Chef Bugnard". She went on to "start an informal school with fellow gourmandes Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, who were already at work on a French cookbook for American readers, although it took Child's know-how to transform the tome - after nine years, many title changes and three publishers - into the bestselling Mastering the Art of French Cooking." As a Food Network devotee I can't help but be forever grateful to Julia for hosting the first cooking show which aired on PBS and came about after the publication of MTAOFC. Aside from the cooking bits this book is very much about the love affair between Julia and her beloved Paul, truly it made my heart melt. I could gush on and on about this memoir but I'll end with this, My Life in France is brilliant beyond belief and I insist you pick up a copy.
A few weeks ago I got together with my friend Alina, her new boyfriend (who I'd not yet met) and his best friend for a viewing the biopic The Notorious Bettie Page. The film starts out in nostalgic black & white and continues that way with occasional splashes of color at appropriate moments. Unlike other biopics this one only scratches the surface of the central characters life. As well, you'd expect that a film with notorious in the title would aim for scandal. But that is not the case. Lou Lumenick of the Post said the film was “disappointingly skin-deep and almost shockingly wholesome.” The director, Mary Harron, chose to present a lighthearted campy look at Bettie Page's "notorious" years. The film shows pinup and bondage in an amusing manner; like when we clearly see that the spanking is pretend, with no actual contact (I adored the Tara Subkoff cameo in the bondage film scenes). I thought Gretchen Mol was superb as Bettie. Mol's posing was unaffected and her attitude cheerful while she dressed up and posed in what Bettie describe as her "silly costumes". In Bettie's actual photographs no matter how serious the scenario, she appears to be at play. In some ways The Notorious Bettie Page more closely resembles a TV movie than a feature film. I walked away from the theater still not knowing what made Page tick, but I'm okay with that.
Last week I attended a book reading by Sean Wilsey, editor of McSweeney's. He was promoting the paperback version of his memoir Oh the Glory of It All. OTGOIA is about Sean's life with his blonde bombshell of a Mother (one of the thinly veiled characters in Armistead Maupin's bestselling Tales of the City!) and enigmatic Father. While reading passages from the book he also showed incredible slides from his childhood (Andy Warhol came to his house!). Unfortunately the reading took place on one of those perfect sunny evenings that keeps people outdoors, so the attendance at the reading was sparse. My only qualm with the evening is that Sean didn't read more from the book. He read for a mere 20 minutes. After the reading he sat and signed books and due to the small turn out I was the only person with a copy of the book to be signed. Sean was very gracious, writing more than his name and chitchatting a bit. He even told me I looked familiar and I actually thought he did as well. Although I have no clue how we might have known one another. I haven't yet finished the book but so far it's superb. Once I finish I will be posting a review.
Alright, the results are in. There was a three way tie between Bone, Possession and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I've selected Bone for purely selfish reasons. This month is an extremely busy one for me and Bone is the shortest of the three books. So if you're interested in participating in month two of Blogger's Book Club please pick up a copy of Bone sometime in the next few days. And I promise we'll eventually get to all the books on the list.
If you're participating in book two of Blogger's Book Club then please vote for what you'd like to read next.
1. Tete-a-Tete : Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre by Hazel Rowley "Though Rowley identifies her engaging and accessible chronicle as the "story of a relationship," it is in fact the story of the many relationships forged by two of the most brilliant, unorthodox and scandalous intellectuals of the 20th century: Beauvoir and Sartre, who from 1929 until Sartre's death in 1980 remained "essential" to each other but never monogamous."
"In this profoundly moving novel, Fae Myenne Ng takes readers into the hidden heart of San Francisco's Chinatown, to a world of family secrets, hidden shames, and the lost bones of a "paper father." It is a world in which two generations of the Leong family live in an uneasy tension as they try to fathom the source of the middle daughter Ona's sorrow."
"Little, Big tells the epic story of Smoky Barnable - an anonymous young man who meets and falls in love with Daily Alice Drinkwater, and goes to live with her in Edgewood, a place not found on any map. In an impossible mansion full of her relatives, who all seem to have ties to another world not far away, Smoky fathers a family and tries to learn what tale he has found himself in - and how it is to end."
"Literary critics make natural detectives," says Maud Bailey, heroine of a mystery where the clues lurk in university libraries, old letters, and dusty journals. Together with Roland Michell, a fellow academic and accidental sleuth, Maud discovers a love affair between the two Victorian writers the pair has dedicated their lives to studying: Randolph Ash, a literary great long assumed to be a devoted and faithful husband, and Christabel La Motte, a lesser-known "fairy poetess" and chaste spinster. At first, Roland and Maud's discovery threatens only to alter the direction of their research, but as they unearth the truth about the long-forgotten romance, their involvement becomes increasingly urgent and personal. Desperately concealing their purpose from competing researchers, they embark on a journey that pulls each of them from solitude and loneliness, challenges the most basic assumptions they hold about themselves, and uncovers their unique entitlement to the secret of Ash and La Motte's passion."
"I exist!" exclaims Ruby Lennox upon her conception in 1951, setting the tone for this humorous and poignant first novel in which Ruby at once celebrates and mercilessly skewers her middle-class English family. Peppered with tales of flawed family traits passed on from previous generations, Ruby's narrative examines the lives in her disjointed clan, which revolve around the family pet shop. But beneath the antics of her philandering father, her intensely irritable mother, her overly emotional sisters, and a gaggle of eccentric relatives are darker secrets--including an odd "feeling of something long forgotten"--that will haunt Ruby for the rest of her life."
"Caramelo weaves a large yet intricate pattern, much like the decorative fringe on a rebozo, the traditional Mexican shawl. Through the eyes of young Celaya, or Lala, the Reyes family saga twists and turns over three generations of truths, half-truths, and outright lies. And, like Celaya's grandmother's prized caramelo (striped) rebozo, so is "the universe a cloth, and all humanity interwoven.... Pull one string and the whole thing comes undone."
It's that time again, time to select our next book for Blogger's Book Club. Does anyone have any suggestions for our next read? If you do, please leave a comment. Then in a few days we'll vote. If I don't get any suggestions then I'll post the list Theresa and I came up with last month and we'll vote from that. If you're unfamiliar with Blogger's Book Club, this is how it works: we select a book a month to read, then at the end of the month we post our thoughts about the book. So simple.