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Posts from the ‘Mount TBR 2022’ Category

20
Apr

#Play The Browning Version

Candida Gubbins and Peter Bowles in The Browning Version, at Theatre Royal Bath in 2009.

APRIL

22. The Browning Version by Terence Rattigan by Terence Rattigan Terence Rattigan


Finish date: 18 April 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++
Review:

Bad news: At the time of his death in 1977, Terence Rattigan was barely remembered by the theater-going public, yet 30 years earlier he was considered one of Britain’s most important playwrights. Unfortunately his plays have been swept aside.

Good news: Rattigan creates an unforgettable character Mr. Andrew Crocker-Harris, master at a boys boarding school. Ill health is forcing Andrew to retire from teaching.
He shows a measure of resilience and takes life’s disappointments in his stride with good grace and an unassuming humility.

Good news: Again the title of a play or book must be the center of the story. The very moving scene between the student Taplow and Mr. Crocker is unforgettable.
The “Browning version” is the translation made by Robert Browning of the Agamemnon of Aeschylus, which the teacher Mr. Crocker-Harris is having his students read in the original Greek. One of the students gives a copy of Browning’s version to Mr. Crocker-Harris as a gift upon the latter’s leaving the school.

Characters:

John Tallow (16 yr ) student at boarding school
Frank Hunter (40s yr ) master
Millie Crocker-Harris (50s yr ) wife; cold indifference to the feelings of others
Andrew Crocker-Harris (50s yr ) – feels himself a failure, but will not beg school for pension…
Dr. Frobisher (60s) Headmaster
Peter Gilbert (30s yr) master replacing Mr. Crocker
Mrs. Gilbert (30syr ) wife


Good news: Tone in the play is brutally honest. I winced at times how cruel a wife (Mrs. Crocker) could be. But Andrew is triumph. He is unwilling to delegate blame or to engage in self pity when things go awry, and they do go awry! Very impressed by his ability to dramatize the world of hurt that human beings can manage to live with.

Personal: I didn’t expect very much from this play. It was reserved in manner and strict decorum. Who says the British “stiff-upper lip” is boring? This play packed a VERY subtle punch to the gut!  Rattigan has a profound understanding of the human heart.

If you can find a revival of one of his plays I would urge you to see it. Rattigan is a master of understatement. You can always find TR’s plays on Amazon… or even in the library. The Deep Blue Sea , Separate Tables and The Winslow Boy – are now established classics.
#WorthTheReadingTime!

8
Apr

#Non-fiction This Thing Called Literature

Library Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

APRIL

  This Thing Called Literature Reading, Thinking, Writing by Andrew Bennett by Andrew Bennett (no photo)

Finish date:  03 April 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: B
Review: This Think Called Literature (ISBN: 978-1408254011



Bad news: Information how to read poem, short story and novel was as rich and dense as wedding cake, and just as hard to digest…in anything more than the smallest portions. At one point my eyes glazed over. Tropes were familiar: “A poem should no mean …but be.” (Archibald MacLeish) A short story produces “single effect”(E.A. Poe), A novel asks questions what it means to be human.

Good news: Offers practical tips and new ways of thinking about the familiar. This book did make me think about a thing that has troubled me: Why do I think a book is awful? Is it really the book…or is it me? Chapter “Thinking” (pg 79) is really an eye-opener!!

Best chapter:  How to read a play. I learned so much in this chapter. It made the book worth reading.
Best tip: BEFORE you start the play…read a critical essay or the Sparkenotes. It will help you find the details, the allusions…and in general the historic context.

Personal: I love to learn about literature. The only thing I really liked in this book was….it gave me some “food for thought”. I rarely ask the question: Why do some works of literature travel through time while others cannot?
Why is Shakespeare still relevant?
Why is Jane Eyre more than just a romance?
Answer: These literary works change every time we read them…that is their enduring strength. Be prepared to cherry pick…the best items of information for your own benefit. There is much to learn but you have sift through a lot of examples Mr. Bennett uses to support his arguments.


Last thought: Play: BOYS AND GIRLS (ISBN: 978-1786823144)
2018
Staring one actor: Carey Mulligan
What a gripping play…I’ve never forgotten it.
Girls & Boys by Dennis Kelly by Dennis Kelly Dennis Kelly

  1. Dennis Kelly: Kelly was born to Irish parents  in London and
  2. is always described as a “London- based writer”.
  3. He is comfortable describing himself as second-generation Irish and
  4. indeed he holds both an English and an Irish passport.

 

 

18
Feb

#Short stories James Salter

JANUARY

27. Last Night by James Salter by James Salter James Salter


Finish date: 10 February 2022
Genre: short stories (10)
Rating: F
Review:

Bad news: I read the first story…if this is the quality for the next 9 stories…I’ll finish this book very soon. I’ll give Salter 1 or 2 more stories the chance to convince me he is worth reading. Last Night presents a bleak picture of people whose lives have lost moral focus. Bah.

Bad news: James Salter is a John Updike wanna be. He tries to imitate Updike …without success. Themes: middle-class or upper-middle-class couples – Marriage – divorce – treatment of adultery – from to dinner-party to bedroom conversations.

Bad news: Stories are ‘padded’ with one-note dialogue reminiscent of Abbot & Costello routine “Who’s of first? What’s on second? I don’t know is on third…characters are stuck in a looping!

Good News: ….the stories are very short.

10
Feb

#BlackHistoryMonth2022 Red Velvet

British actor Adrian Lester, husband of playwright Lolita Chakrabarti

FEBRUARY

Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti by Lolita Chakrabarti (no photo)

Finish date: 25 January 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++
Review:

 

Bad news: Nothing to mention….

 

Good news The title kept ringing in my ear …what is the link between “Red Velvet” and what I’m reading. It is what young Ira sees viewing plays from the high balcony of the Park Theatre in NYC…what we all see when visiting a great theatre…the red curtain! “…something about velvet, a deep promise of what’s to come”. Aldrige as a child was “…under a spell at the back of the gods (actors), a sea of red below filled with expectations of greatness.”

 

Good news: Structure made the play easy to follow. I always put the scenes in order before I read a play…it helps me immerse myself into the world of the actors…giving me a hint where the play is going. Chakrabarti bookends the play: scene 1 with scene 7
It looks like too many characters..but in most scenes it is a group of actors discussing the play they are to perform, very readable.

 

Good news: In just a few short scenes ….Ms Chakarbarti conveys to the reader what it is like to be a black actor. What is it like to have your acting skills reduced to the color of your skin. This play is based on the little-known, but true story of Ira Aldridge.

 

Good news: Message: politics in theatre…in spite of all the obstacles in 1833 London……talent will always shine through. Issue: a black actor touching, fighting and killing Desdemona in front of a shocked British public and the theatre board members.

 

Good news: The playwright is very subtle alluding to the new Salvery Abolition Act (1833). We sense the political unrest in London through the actor’s dialogue.
Parliament was about to abolish slavery in most British colonies.
This mirrors the “unrest” on stage as well!

 

Personal: This was how a play should be written..from the inside. Lolita Chakabarti is a trained actress at Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) and knows what an actor and the audience need. This was a delight to read. If you look at the cover…it is Adrian Lester another RADA actor, he starred in the play and is …Lolita Chakabarti’s husband.

4
Feb

#Biography John Adams

FEBRUARY

23. John Adams by David McCullough by David McCullough David McCullough

Finish date: 01 February 2022
Genre: Biography
Rating: A++++++++++++
Review:

 

Bad news: Part 1 – the book does not start with a bang. So please, do NOT give up on this book! Timeline: 8 months: Felt like reading a 18th C. version of C-Span….blow by blow accounts of the Congress of Philadelphia and the difficult birth of a new United Stats of America, July 4, 1776. Nice to read/skim….but all in all boring because we’ve all read so much about this.

 

Good news Part II – Now book really picks up steam on page 199 beginning with Adams’s departure to France with young son, John Quincy. Adams will join Ben Franklin at French court to negotiate an alliance. I especially liked CH 6…JUST WONDERFUL! It is a tender, loving look at a husband and wife reunited July 20 1784…after a separation of 4 years!! Abigail overcomes her fears of the North Atlantic sea voyage b/c her love for “my dearest “ is stronger.

 

Good news: Woman’s perspective….always great to read!! Abigail Adams’s descriptions of the North Atlantic voyage (ship, crew and weather). She has the eye for detail that just gives the reader a pause from all the ‘history’. Abigail Adams was a down-to-earth New England puritan and her observations about the French Louis XVI court and the snobbish British society are so much fun to read.

 

Good news: Part III – John Adams’s term as 2nd President of US: Intrigue , backstabbing politics and finally returning to Peacefield…his home in Massachusetts.

 

Personal:

Reading this book has given met the needed background to finally watch epic series 2008 John Adams. It won 13 Prime Time Emmy awards including Best Actor Paul Giamatti.

The greatest strength of this book… and also any other books by D. McCullough is the author’s ability to bring history to life! People are living and breathing on every page!

Motto John Adams…I will follow his advice! “You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. You will never have an idle hour.”

Mrs. Adams’s narrative with vivid, insightful details brings a feeling of balance in the book…the frenetic revolution, war, and birth of an independent US….and the tender scenes of domestic life with John Adams and her children.

For all the biographies I’ve read….never have I enjoyed reading a history as much as this one. Don’t make the same mistake I did, judged the book by the cover…again! I thought this would be just another a stuffy history book. How wrong As I said…don’t make my mistake….open the book, skim part 1 if necessary and the book
really starts with part 2.

I was just swept away by John and Abigail! Never knew T. Jefferson indulged in “backstabbing politics” Never knew how vindictive A. Hamilton was. It’s all in the book….great learning moment!

Call me sappy and overly sentimental, but I was absolutely awe struck by the level of commitment and affection that John and Abigail felt and showed to one another even across great distances and during long years when they hardly even saw each other. It was biography with a pulse and also a love story!
#MustRead

 

31
Jan

#MountTBR February reading list

  • The hardest thing you have to change is your mind….. 
  • I’ve decided to start this most difficult challenge !
  • #MountTBR2022
  • #BeatTheBacklog
  • Monthy Planning

 

Reading List February: 15/15   

 

  1. Dancing Lessons – Olive Senior (novel)

FEBRUARY

30. Dancing Lessons by Olive Senior by Olive Senior

Finish date: 22 February 2022
Genre: novel
Rating: B-

 

  1. Unbound – Tarana Burke (memoir)

FEBRUARY

32. Unbound My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke by Tarana Burke (no photo)

Finish date: 24 February 2022
Genre: memoir
Rating: B

 

  1. A Walk in the Woods – B. Bryson

FEBRUARY

18. A Walk in the Woods Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson by Bill Bryson Bill Bryson

Finish date: 20 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction, travel
Rating: D

 

  1. John Adams D. McCullough

FEBRUARY

John Adams by David McCullough by David McCullough David McCullough

Finish date: 01 February 2022
Genre: Biography
Rating: A++++++++++++   (Why? see review!)

 

  1. King Charles III – M. Bartlett  (play)

FEBRUARY

King Charles III by Mike Bartlett by Mike Bartlett (no photo)

Finish date: 04 February 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A

 

  1. Red Velvet – L. Chakrabarti (play)

FEBRUARY

Red Velvet by Lolita Chakrabarti by Lolita Chakrabarti (no photo)

Finish date: 25 January 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++

 

  1. All That She Carried – Tiya Alicia Miles (NF)

FEBRUARY

All That She Carried The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles by Tiya Miles Tiya Miles

Finish date: 08 February 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: B-

 

  1. Big White Fog  – Theodore Ward (play) 

FEBRUARY

Big White Fog by Theodore Ward by Theodore Ward (no photo)

Finish date: 11 February 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: D

 

  1. Redeployment (12 stories)- P. Klay

FEBRUARY

Redeployment by Phil Klay by Phil Klay Phil Klay

Finish date:  8 February 2022
Genre: Short Stories (12)
Rating: A+++++

 

  1. No Man’s Land – H. Pinter (play)

FEBRUARY

No Man's Land by Harold Pinter by Harold Pinter Harold Pinter

Finish date: 15 February 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: B

 

  1. Last Night (10 stories) – J. Salter

FEBRUARY

Last Night by James Salter by James Salter James Salter

Finish date: 10 February 2022
Genre: short stories (10)
Rating: F

 

  1. Macbeth – W. Shakespeare (play)

FEBRUARY

Macbeth by William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare

Finish date: February 14 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++++

 

  1. No Name in the Street – James Baldwin

FEBRUARY

No Name in the Street by James Baldwin by James Baldwin James Baldwin

Finish date: 20 February 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: A

 

  1. No Man’s Land – H. Pinter (play)

FEBRUARY

No Man's Land by Harold Pinter by Harold Pinter Harold Pinter

Finish date: 15 February 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: B

 

  1. Sweat – Lynn Nottage (play)

FEBRUARY

Sweat by Lynn Nottage by Lynn Nottage Lynn Nottage

Finish date: 21 February 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++++++

 

30
Jan

#NF The Crossroads of Should and Must

 

JANUARY

17. The Crossroads of Should and Must Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna by Elle Luna Elle Luna

Finish date: 20 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: D-
Review:

Bad news: Collage slogans: Reading is disrupted by a waterfall of illustrations/taglines on practically every page! Less is more…..
Layout: Pages are a smattering of paragraphs and inspirational quotes…and the book could easily have been 80 pages instead of 160.

Bad news: Ideas in this book feel like they have been written on a laptop between Chia Lattes at Starbucks…highly-caffeinated content. When I closed the book an empty feeling of wasted reading time engulfed me.

Bad news: How to remove ‘should’ from our lives? Is this something I need to do? Really…there are plenty of “ should” we have to keep. Work: Like your job or not…a “girl’s gotta eat and pay the bills!”

Bad news: I shudder reading the “self-awarness” therapy exercises this book offers…skipping this “should” chapter. No…I do NOT want to write my obituary (part III Must, pg 80)…jich!

Good news: One thing I did like “Acquire one new skill a month…try new activities.” I can do that. No, I will not try to do headstands. Integrating solitude into our lives must be done. Well, during a pandemic that is a very easy lift! Find solitude in the craziest places…NO, I will not wash a head of lettuce leaf by leaf for a “kitchen” moment of meditation!

Personal: Why did I buy this book 7 years ago? Read in 1,5 hrs….learned nothing.

#DontWasteYourMoney
28
Jan

#Plays Thornton Wilder

JANUARY

16. The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, Volume I by Thornton Wilder by Thornton Wilder Thornton Wilder

Finish date: 19 January 2022
Genre: Plays
Rating: D-
Review:

Bad news: The plays felt like homework, outdated lacking in any kind of spark of enjoyment. Every time I started a new play …it was only to get it done and hope the end of the book would put me out of my misery.

Bad news: I still had enough enthusiasm after a good lunch… to start the last 12 one act plays. I only like 2! So it was a very low return on investment. I literally fell asleep reading part II.

Good news: Stage directions: stage appearance, characters arrangement alone or in clusters…that was the best part of the plays I read. I needed some visual to get my through my reading. I will share one for Pullman Car Hiawatha by Harry Feiner Theater Design It helped me so much to understand what was going on in the play. IMO this was the best play in the book because it was so unconventional. Strange play….but oh, what a talent Wilder must have been to create this dialogue!! I liked Wilder’s use of a stage manager that breaks the 4th wall and speaks to the audience.

Personal These are not plays you can just jump into….there is a lot of allegory embedded in Thornton’s writing. Try to at least read a summary of the play beforehand. Here is an excellent resource for many of Wilder’s works…all in one website! The Wilder Society

Thornton Wilder….who mentions his name when asked for 3 great American playwrights? Not me! The spotlight is always on Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller. But Wilder is one of the greatest writers of art of allegorical narrative…and that is always difficult to understand and digest. Malcolm Cowley (literary critic 1898-1989) reveals: “(Wilder is) one of the toughest and most complicated minds in contemporary America.” Amen to that!

We all have read Wilder’s play Our Town and he novel The Bridge of San Luis Ray (Pulitzer Prize 1928)..in high-school …so if you’ve read them there is no reason to venture into the one-act plays in this book.
#Disappointed

26
Jan

#NF Dawn of the Belle Epoque

Alfred Sisley:  Fog, Voisins (1874)

 

JANUARY


Dawn of the Belle Epoque The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe by Mary McAuliffe Mary McAuliffe

Finish date: 17 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: A
Review:

Bad news: No book is perfect…but I had to think very hard to find a minus point in this book.
It was long (400 pages). That is a lot to cover in 2 days. I have the next book on my reading list but will have to wait until I digest this one. Rightly Ms McAuliffe touches on the politics and science (..few pages about Mme Cure) in the Belle Epoque. Honestly, I’ve read about – seen movie about The Dreyfus Affair so felt I could skim these pages. Also George Clemeanceau and all his band of merry men…don’t interest me. Also…there were not many illustrations in the book so I had to depend on Wikipedia/Google.

Good news: Now the real reason to read this book is the world of literature, art, music and engineering! 75% of the book is about the wonderful world of French painters who dazzeled the world. We all know the list of names but I fell very much head over heels reading about Pissarro. He tends to fall into the back round when you think about Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Manet brothers and Monet. But Camille Pissarro was the father figure who nurtured and held these men together! PS: Did you know Pissarro was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands?

Good News Having read bio’s about B. Morisot and V. Hugo I could quickly get through the first chapters. Also I’ve read all 20 of Zola’s Rougon-Macquart books….so references to Nana or L’Assommier, L’Oeuvre were familiar characters to me. I knew nothing about the great 4 composers Claude Debussy, D’Indy, Ravel and the wonderful Saint-Saëns. If you do anything listen to his Carnival des Animaux on Spotify…just breathtaking. This book contains tidbits of information that have slipped between the cracks of Wikipedia!

Good news: There were interesting chapters about the history of
the Pantheon in Paris (…..Victor Hugo thought is a wretched copy of St. Peter’s in Rome!) Statue of Liberty – Eiffel Tower. There were…steamy love affairs: between Debussy and older Mme Vasnier (married). Another affair between Claude Monet and Mme Alice Hoschedé (married) was very touching…they stayed devoted to each other for life! Loved the back round information about Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Kiss”…was it inspired by his affair with Camille Claudel or Dante’s Inferno 2nd level Francesca en Paolo?

Good news: Auguste Escoffier shook-up the world of haute cuisine and created Pêche Melba for Australian singer Nellie Melba and Fraises Bernhardt for Sarah, the great French actress. He was just as revolutionary as anything Rodin, Seurat, Debussy or Gustave Eiffel were doing! He looked at restaurant meals from a woman’s point of view….as every chef should!

Good news: Did I learn something I never heard about? Sarah Bernhardt was not only an actress but also a sculptor. I got a peak at the installation plans for the Statue of Liberty and Tour Eiffel. Learned about the uproar the controversial sculpture The Bronze Age by Rodin created. The model was a Belgian soldier and so lifelike no one believed it was not made with a plaster caste of the body! What a body! (see Wikipedia)

Personal While reading this book I had Spotfy to listen to the music of the composers and Wikipedia to have the many works of art (don’t forget the beautiful Art Nouveau illustrations by Alphonse Mucha….beautiful!) by the painters at my fingertips. It is the best way to read this book. Finally after having collected dust on my TBR for 5 years…I discovered this gem!
#MountTBR2022

25
Jan

#BookBingoBlackout

I learned about this challenge from Tracy’s blog  Bitter Tea and Mystery! I too am joining in on Book Bingo at Unruly Reader. This bingo card can work perfectly with my MountTBR2022 challenge. I’m sure I can find some book on my 1300+ books TBR on Kindle.

It is a basic bingo card where you try to get a bingo or go for blackout.   There are some explanations of the topics but you can interpret as you see fit.

 

 

My Selections:    4/25

Timely Title – book relevant in its own era

 

NYT Best Seller:

  1. John Adams – David McCullough – READ

23. John Adams by David McCullough by David McCullough David McCullough

Finish date: 01 February 2022
Genre: Biography
Rating: A++++++++++++

 

NEWS – book that affects a region (North East South West)

 

Fleeting fancy – picked up on a whim

 

Seasonal – book that evokes a season

 

Native American Author

 

Positive Psychology – book that explores building a life worth living

 

Subculture – (profession/obsession/pursuit/belief system/set of customs)

 

Afrofuturism – SG/fantasy/tech to explore the African diaspora experience

 

Librarian recommended – Unruly Reader?

 

I-syllable Author Surname:

  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain – G. Stein READ
JANUARY

15. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein by Garth Stein Garth Stein

Finish date: 22 January 2022
Genre: Fiction
 

Coming of Age – growth of MC from naivety to maturity

 

Play:

  1. Separate Tables – Terence Rattigan – READ

JANUARY

17. Separate Tables by Terence Rattigan by Terence Rattigan Terence Rattigan

Finish date: 28 January 2022
Genre: Play

 

Period Piece – book that could only take place in that time

  1. Dawn of the Belle Epoque – M. McAuliffe
JANUARY

14 Dawn of the Belle Epoque The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe by Mary McAuliffe Mary McAuliffe  READ

Finish date: 17 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction

 

1980s Classic – published in 1980s and still widely read

 

Time Capsule – about another era….time travel or perspective about current-day on an earlier time

 

Fast – short book or fast paced

 

Slow – book you want to savor, don’t want it to end….of that just won’t end!

 

Wanderlust – character’s journey to another place or your yearning to travel

 

Free Time – smth you can read in 5 min!! (article – poem – blogpost)

 

Ability diverse – character with a physical of cognitive disability

 

One Hit Wonder – author who published one notable book

 

Immersion – book you can’t stop thinking about –

 

Vintage – Vintage Classics  published by Penguin Random House

  1. Abelard and Heloise – Helen Waddell

MARCH

33. Peter Abelard by Helen Waddell by Helen Waddell Helen Waddell

Finish date: March 02 2022
Genre: Novel (210 pg…almost a novella)
Rating: D-

 

Biography:

  1. Thomas Becket – John Guy – READ
JANUARY
3. Thomas Becket Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim A 900-Year-Old Story Retold by John Guy by John Guy John Guy
Finish date: 05 January 2022
Genre: biography