Epiphany: She had been the victim.
Table of Contents:
How is the stage set?
What is the conflict?
What do you notice when you compare opening with the closing scene?
Do characters become wholly different in the course of the play?
What did I notice on the audio book?
Broadway Production True West 2000
Table of contents:
Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (Hugo nominee)
Shatterday (Nebula nominee)
In the Oligocenskie Gardens
Basilisk (Hugo & Locus winner; Nebula nominee)
Shattered Like a Glass Goblin (Nebula nominee)
Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54′ N, Longitude 77° 00′ 13″ W” (Hugo winner)
On the Downhill Side (Nebula nominee)
All the Lies That Are My Life (Hugo nominee)
Goodbye to All That (Nebula nominee)
Story # 1: Delusion for a Dragonslayer – strange….
Story # 2: Shatterday – best story in the book
Story # 3: Floop Sweat – creepy…but good!
Cover: “Grounded” by Barry Blitt
This week we read about Barry Blitt (1958) . He is a Canadian-born American artist. Blitt creates his works in traditional pen and ink, as well as watercolors.
He won first prize best cover of the year 2006 depicting President Bush being flooded in the Oval Office after Hurricane Katrina It is entitled “Deluged” and appeared on the Sept. 19, 2005 issue
President Barack Obama chose one of Blitt’s New Yorker covers to hang in the White House. The cover depicts the President picking the family dog at the same time as he is vetting candidates for his national security cabinet.
I had difficulty reading through this issue of The New Yorker.
It seems my favorite (…perhaps the best) writers are lounging on a beach somewhere.
Fortunately there were three writers that did capture my attention.
Danielle Allen : Personal History – a political theorist and the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. Danielle Allen is an academic and gives us a rivieting story about her cousin. “My cousin became a convicted felon in his teens. I tried to make sure he got a second chance. What went wrong?” This was a very good article about Allen’s struggle to save a beloved cousin from sinking into the swamp of LA South Central criminal world. (photo: Sharon Renee Hartley)
Hua Hsu: Book critic – contributor to The New Yorker. He is currently an associate professor of English at Vassar College. This article was very informative…as I did not know much about Bob Marley. He became a model for how artistic legacy has turned into an industry of its own.
Amazing: 2016, Forbes calculated that Marley’s estate brought in twenty-one million dollars, making him the year’s sixth-highest-earning “dead celebrity,”…”
A mother’s hopes for her son clash with an educational system rigged against him in PIPELINE. This looks like an explosive play to read or if you are lucky
….to watch at The Lincoln Center in NYC.
This is a deeply moving story of a mother’s fight to give her son a future — without turning her back on the community that made him who he is.
Playwright: Dominique Morisseau #MustRead play Pipeline
James Wood: Book critic – staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker since 2007.
Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen
Here are a few notes I made high-lighting some facts that I was unaware of.
The book begins with the usual backround information about Kennedy and King’s youth and early careers as senator of Massachusetts and Minister in Montgomery Alabama.
New: I remember the excitement around the 1960 election Kennedy vs Nixon. JFK’s face was on all the magazines flashing his famous Irish smile. What I did not realize at the time….
Kennedy between May 1955-October 1957 was secretly hospitalized 9 times (44 days) while he was launching his vice-presidential and presidential bids.
Kennedy was in pain (injuries to back, Addison’s Disease and many more aliments) for about half his life.
New: Kennedy did not know about the ‘real’ situation in the deep south even 8 months before the election in 1960. He had traveled all over Europe but had hardly set a foot in the ‘red states’ in the south.
Kennedy desperately wanted the backing of the prominent singer Harry Belafonte. The singer refused and told Kennedy that every hour he spent talking to him….he SHOULD BE talking to Martin Luther King.
New: the role of Harris Wofford in the civil rights movement.
Harris Wofford white lawyer who studied in India. He was an advocate of Ghandi’s approach to politics and protest.
He and King spent many hours discussing ways to adapt Ghandi’s tactics to civil rights demonstrations. This was a powerful new form of political persuasion. King believed that the art of politics involved the skilful dramatic use of symbolic acts.
New: I did not know that MLK visited India…so he could meet with people who had worked with Ghandi.
New: One of the most prominent female civil rights activist….and I never heard of her. I would love to read a biography about Diane Nash! May-December 1961 demonstration Freedom Riders who desecrated interstate travel.
Ch 64 – The Constitution was color-blind…(and in my opinion…still is)
Ch 69 – 1962 MLK wrote in The Nation Magazine: ‘The President proposed a 10-year plan to put a man on the moon, ..yet we do not have a plan to put a Negro in the State Legislature of Alabama!” (Ouch!)
Ch 71 – I never heard of the Cosmos Club! The Cosmos Club is a private social club in Washington D.C. It endures as a an institution for the upper crust. Its rolls have included three U.S. presidents, two vice presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 32 Nobel Prize winners and 56 Pulitzer Prize winners. Although the membership of more than 3,000 includes women and blacks, these are fairly recent developments in the club’s 132 years. The Cosmos Club didn’t end its male-only rule until 1988.
UPDATE: 28 July 2017
1. Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
The group wants to visit Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia (pg 160 and 166, 217). Some members in the group must decide to ‘stay together’ or refuse to join the trip.
2. What is the predominant element in the story?
Setting: Oppressive heat, no wind, sun burning like a furnace influences the character’s mood.
There is no rain to quench this parched earth. The only escape is the sea.
There is a forest fire creeping slowly towards the village, a river that marks the dividing line for Sara (main character) between staying in a loveless marriage or crossing over to the other side and a new life.
3. Who is the single main character about. whom the story centres?
Sara is the main character.
4. What sort of conflict confronts the leading character or characters?
a. External – Sara is trying to overcome a personal crisis in her marriage.
b. Internal – Sara must choose: love with it’s ups and downs or the thrill of desire.
5. How is the conflict resolved?
Sara has difficulty saying what she thinks about her marriage. Finally she has reached a point of no return. Sara and Jacques decide to let each other be ‘free’. If Sara returns to him…then he knows it was her choice.
6. How does the author handle characterisation?
a. Description – all the characters are nameless except for the members in the group. This is done to intensify the reader’s focus on these individuals.
Finally we know name ‘homme’ (Jean, pg 112, 172, 173) and nanny (Jeanne, pg 116) but Duras does not use the names in the rest of the story.
b. Conversation – personalities emerge during the conversation among SJGL.
Half way through the book Sara decides to say the truth for a change to her husband after being seduced by ‘homme’: I feel like cheating (have an affair)….like you do!
Could this be the point of no return for Sara? (pg 114)
7. Who tells the story? What point of view is used?
a. Third person narrator
8. Where does the primary action take place?
Characters have been in the isolated Italian vacation village for two weeks when the book starts. They are lethargic, bored, and desperate for a cool breeze while spinning ice cubes in their drinks.
9. What is the season? time of day?
Torrid heat, sun burning like a furnace, summer vacation in isolated Italian village.
10. How much time does the story cover? timeline?
11. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
Sara and Jacques are waiting for their friends to arrive Gina and Ludi.
They always vacation with them.
12. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
Slowly cracks are showing in this ‘group friendship.’ (pg 97) The tension increases when a mystery man (homme) arrives in the village. He has his eye on Sara. She is swept away by the idea of being a object of desire.
13. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
After 3 days of seduction ‘homme’ waits for Sara to meet him for their night of love.
14. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
I’d rather not reveal any information about this because it would spoil the story.
15. Does this story create any special mood?
Boredom of the characters drips off the pages….still I feel a ominous tension.
Friendship (in group) can be just as complicated as love (between partners).
16. Is this story realistic or true to life?
Love: Sara’s situation is universal: by getting what she most desires (the thrill of being object of desire for ‘homme’) she loses more than she gets.
Desire is for the moment, love is for a lifetime.
Friendship: Jacques describes their group think:
We are all fools, but we are endowed with the same stupidity, that’s why we get along well with each other. (pg 77)
17. Are the events presented in flashback or in chronological order? (structure)
The book is divided into four parts representing four chronological days.
There was one strange flashback about the death of Sara’s brother. When he died so did her childhood (pg 54). It never connected to any part of the story. Very strange.
19. What is the general theme of the story?
Allow yourself the possibility of failure (Sara decision to yield to her desire or not).
Only then do you increase your chances of success (keeping her marriage together).
20. Did you identify with any of the characters?
‘l’homme’: I didn’t really have much interest in bored women on vacation (Sara, Diana and Gina).
I did feel an intense interest for ‘homme’. He was 30 yr., nameless throughout the book, no face, no features. But he was a constant threat. Duras used this ‘suspense’ to keep the reader enthralled. Who is he? What is he planning to do?
24. Does the story contain a single effect or impression for the reader?
The main character asks what is love?
“Love is an predetermined misfortune, you can’t escape it.” (pg 72)
25. Name one major personality trait of each leading character.
Sara does not say what she thinks. She conceals her feelings.
26. Does the story have a message? what was the purpose of the author ?
The effect of group membership on individual behavior.
At times it can feel oppressing (just like the hear), yet it can be the support you need at difficult times in your life.
27. Does this story contain any of the following elements?
a. Symbolism: The river: When Sara is kissed for the first time by ‘homme’ she sees the reflection on the river in his eyes. The river represents the freedom Sara can have (leave a loveless marriage) if she only dares to let go and flow with the river.
b. Motif: Bitter Campari. The pervasive consumption of alcohol throughout the story (mentioned 50 x) sharpens the feeling of boredom, emptiness during the vacation. As Diana says:
“C’est la magique!” (pg 48)
c. Irony: Sara refuses an invitation for a boat ride, she wants to consult with the group. (pg 29). Ironically on pg 76 she says ‘l’homme’ should think and do what he wants! This is an important element in the story group vs individual.
There is NO action…only and exchange of thoughts, feelings, desires and fears.
Yet I read every page.
Duras describes the monotonous vacation days of 4 middle age adults.
Each part has these basic scenes: vacation bungalow, swim at the beach, drinks at the hotel and back to the bungalow.
Strong point: the tension Duras created around ‘mystery man, Sara’s eagerness to go on his boat (even though she cannot swim) and her four year old child (mystery man takes a strong interest in the young boy).
Weak point: subplot about an elderly couple who refuse to sign son’s death certificate. This part of the story felt out of place with the rest of the languid mood.