Reading Three Books At Once
I knew this day would come. There would be so many books that I am dying to read that I would find myself reading three books at the same time. It’s not that any of the three is failing to hold my interest. It’s just that, well, I’m not really sure how it happened. So now I am partway through Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, Canada by Richard Ford, and The Red House by Mark Haddon.
These three novels are very different. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is almost a moment-by-moment account of a ceremony during a Thanksgiving Day football game in Dallas to honor a group of American soldiers who survived a brutal firefight with Iraqi insurgents. Canada is about a young brother and sister whose parents, uncharacteristically, committed a bank robbery and went to jail. The Red House is an unflinching look at family, a brother and sister long estranged but reunited by the death of their mother. What these novels have in common is incredibly good writing, strong character development, and — in each case — tremendous empathy by the narrator for these very different characters, all struggling to make sense of their lives.
My Week With Marilyn
It’s been a long time since I have wanted to sit all the way through the credits at the end of a movie simply because I didn’t want to get the feel of the movie out of my bones. That’s how I felt at the end of My Week With Marilyn. British actor Eddie Redmayne plays a young film assistant who has a brief relationship with Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during the filming of a movie that starred Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). There is not a lot of plot, just the making of a movie plagued by all the things we have already heard about Marilyn Monroe, that she was often difficult to work with, late to the set, and abusive of pills and alcohol. But the movie is not unkind to her. As someone says on the set, at a time when Marilyn is holding everything up, “When Marilyn gets it right, you don’t want to look at anyone else.” Michelle Williams captures Monroe’s luminescence.
In watching movies, I often look for ideas that might help me write: in the way the movie is structured, point of view, setting, dialog, and the like. As I watched this movie, I was struck by how much emotion was conveyed in the faces of the actors, Eddie Redmayne and Michelle Williams, in particular. In many scenes, wordlessly, their simple expressions conveyed sadness, love, admiration, and vulnerability. I kept wondering how I could write a scene that would come close to describing in words what they so simply and subtly expressed without them. It would be a gift to write like that.
Beware of Twitter Spam
We have all seen it: the direct message that seems entirely out of character for the person sending it to us. I’ve gotten the one that says people are saying terrible things about me. Then there is the one promising dramatic weight loss without dieting. And this week I got a new one in which the sender said he was laughing so hard at a picture of me that his friend found.
Each of these messages comes with a link that, if we click on it, will likely unleash a virus or worm or some other equally horrible computer invader so, if you get such a message — no matter how tempting — don’t click on the link! My advice is to let the sender know that he or she may have been hacked. The sooner they know, the faster they can correct it.
So how’s your summer going? Any movies, books, or odds and ends to share?