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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!

13
Apr

#Nonfiction The Road to Unfreedom

 

 

Finish date: 10 April 2022
Genre: Non-fiction (history)
Rating: AAA+++++. (ISBN: 978-1784708573
Review: The Road to Unfreedom – Tim Snyder

 

Good news:

  1. Yes, important to learn about Ukraine
  2. …but I would advise to start at the root of this problem:   Putin.
  3. Professor of history at Yale University Tim Snyder has written an eye-opening book that will
  4. ….put Putin and his quest (aka obsession) with Ukraine into perspective.
  5. This all has been planned for at least 10-15 years ago…Putin is ruthless and cunning.
  6. In “The Road to Unfreedom”…
  7. you will learn about the Russian philosopher that “guides” Putin’s thoughts and
  8. …about Putin, the man himself.
  9. Not the narrative we’ve read in other books…but the “politician of fiction”
  10. …a man who retains power by “show” elections and the illusion of democracy.
  11. It’s all fiction.

 

Personal:

  1. Excellent book!!
  2. History professor at Yale Univeritsy
  3.  …Tim Snyder reveals how much Putin was planning
  4.  for years…and we looked on with “eyes-wide-shut”!
  5. Book was written 4 years ago and it’s like
  6. reading Putin’s playbook now with regard to Ukraine.
  7. It is just scary to learn Putin made these war plans…10 years ago!
  8. I’m sure in the top meeting b/t Trump and Putin (one-on-one)
  9. …in 2018 in Helsinki where…
  10. …no notes were taken..Trump said.
  11. “Please, take Ukraine, no problemo!”
  12. #MustRead. especially now.
  13. ..during the UKR-RUS crisis!

 

 

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.

 

 

28
Mar

#UPDATE April reading list

Dawn in The Netherlands

UPDATE: 31 March 2022

  1. I’ve completed 3 months  reading from my MountTBR2022
  2. There are 42 book reviews from  JAN-FEB-MRT 2022 
  3. ….available on my link  MONTHLY PLANNING.
  4. Now it is time to concentrate on the news.
  5. …on several non-fiction books that can help me understand
  6. what we are all witnessing on TV.

 

  1. It is difficult to describe how the Ukraine war has affected me.
  2. I wake up, shower, check Zelenskiy and then make my morning coffee.
  3. The chaos, destruction and the cruelty of war is numbing.
  4. Hardly anyone in Ukraine wants to live inside Putin’s despotic
  5. dysfunctional kleptocracy, and its people would seem to be willing
  6. to endure apocalyptic sacrifice to resist that possibility.
  7. The best news coverage is on German TV channels.
  8. Best: German TV/live blog:  ZDF.de
  9. Best: German analysis  DerWelt.de
  10. Best: APP German news/short video clips  “Tagesschau-Nachrichten”.

 

  1. I can throw my original April reading list in the bin
  2. ….plays, novels or memoirs
  3. ….just don’t cut it for me  during these historic times.
  4. I have to read more about reality, history, geopolitics.
  5. How does a country prepare itself for the threats
  6. literally on its borders?
  7. To be, or not to be….
  8. Join NATO….or not join NATO?

 

  1. Finland’s border with Russia is 1334 km.
  2. Finland was invaded by Russia  on 30 November 1939.
  3. Three months after the outbreak of World War II.
  4. The invasion ended 3,5  months later  with
  5. the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940.
  6. Let us hope that this UKR-RUS war
  7. …will be as short-lived (…ending in  June?)

 

Reading LIST  APRIL 2022:    10/20  

 

  1. Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission – Y. Katz – READ
  2. Update: Excellent
  3. Major events with massive geopolitical impact are
  4. …often ‘Shadow Strikes’.
  5. We hear the news but there is SO much we don’t know.
  6. Yaakov Katz tells us how it all played out:
  7. Operation Outside the Box
  8. …was an Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear reactor
  9. …in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria,
  10. …which occurred just after midnight (local time) on 6 September 2007.
  11. This book was an eye-opener! 
  12. Finished: 24.04.2022
  13. ———————–

 

  1. Les délaissés   (2020)- Thomas Porcher (non-fiction) – READ
  2. Update: book is a difficult read
  3. …but well worth the effort!
  4. Polishing my French reading skills this morning  @PorcherThomas
  5. Chapter 2 “La France de Banlieusards” is impressive
  6. …love Pocher’s insights.
  7. The man knows what he’s talking about…and it shows!
  8. He grew up in a “banlieu”…and through hard work and study
  9. …was able to become one of the best writers in France!
  10. Finished: 18.04.2022
  11. ———————–

 

  1. La Guerre des idées (2021)Eugenie Bastié (French journalist for Le Figaro) READ
  2. Update: another book that was a difficult read…in chapter 2  I had to look up
  3. 20 names, mostly French philosophers and historians.
  4. I hope all this hard work pays off as I continue my reading.
  5. Can you name 3 French philosophers?  I can.
  6. Finished: 06.04.2022
  7. ———————–

 

  1. The Age of The Strongman (2022) – G. Rachman – READ
  2. Update: Huge disappointment!
  3. Mr Rachman is an excellent writer (correspondent Financial Times
  4. but his profiles of world leaders…the “Strongmen”
  5. are just a re-hash of what we already know!
  6. #MovingOn…nothing new to see here!
  7. Finished: 12.04.2022
  8. ————————

 

  1. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018) – T. Snyder – REVIEW
  2. Update:  Excellent!!
  3. This book is worth a LONG review…see link.
  4. Finished: 10.04.2022
  5. ———————-

 

  1. The King of Warsaw – T. Szczepan – READ 
  2. Update: HUGE disappointment…waste of time!
  3. I had high hopes for this book.
  4. Rising novelist in Poland…I’m sure he had
  5. new things to tell us.
  6. Unfortunately I was wrong.
  7. It is just dirty, pre-war Warsaw…
  8. filled with cheap and exaggerated erotic and violence.
  9. There are so many good books to read
  10. …don’t waste your time with this rubbish.
  11. Finished: 23.04.2022
  12. ————————

 

  1. Tiger Girl (2020)  – P. Pascale – READ
  2. Update: HUGE disappointment
  3. I tried to snatch some reading by catching up on my poetry collections.
  4. Love the cover…but that is where the love ended.
  5. Deep mother-daughter issues..and an obsession with “leopard-gran”.
  6. Glancing back a few comments I made on the margins:
  7. “God, awful” – “This girl needs a therapist” – “Again with the grandmother….”
  8. “Who told this girl she could write”….and last but not least:
  9. “What is this girl smoking?”
  10. Believe me…there are better poets in bookend!!
  11. Finished: 23.04.2022
  12. ———————–

 

  1. The Browning Version (1948) play – R. Rattigan – REVIEW
  2. Update:  Excellent!!
  3. This book is worth a LONG review…see link.
  4. Finished: 10.04.2022
  5. ———————-

 

  1. Tunnel 29 (2021)- H. Merriman – READ
  2. Update: HUGE disappointment
  3. Is it just me?
  4. I found this an average book
  5. …not worth 5 stars!
  6. It’s hard to dislike this book as it is to defend it.
  7. Finished: 21.04.2022
  8. ———————-

 

  1. Le fagot de ma mémoire –  (2021) S. B. Diagne – READ
  2. Update: book is a difficult read
  3. …but in this case NOT worth the effort!
  4. S. B. Diagne may be one of the 50 greatest thinkers of our time
  5. …but his memoire did not impress at all,
  6. Finished: 19.04.2022
  7. ———————-

 

Update: 23.04.2022

  1. Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission Y. Katz – READ
  2. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018) – T. Snyder – REVIEW
  3. Tunnel 29: Love, Espionage and Betrayal (2021)H. Merriman  (British journalist) – READ
  4. Tiger Girl (2020)  – P. Pascale – READ
  5. Le fagot de ma mémoire –  (2021) S. B. Diagne  – READ
  6. Les délaissés   (2020)- Thomas Porcher (non-fiction) – READ
  7. The Browning Version (1948) play – R. Rattigan – REVIEW
  8. The King of Warsaw – T. Szczepan – READ 
  9. The Age of The Strongman (2022) – G. Rachman – READ
  10. La Guerre des idées (2021)Eugenie Bastié (French journalist for Le Figaro) READ

 

  1. Policor in de Polder – S. Valkenberg (Dutch philospher) (learn more about Dutch political correctness )
  2. De wraak (revenge) van Poetin (2015) – H. Smeets (Dutch journalist @NRC)
  3. Atoms and Ashes: Global History Nuclear Disasters (2022)S. Plokhiy (History prof Harvard)
  4. The Apogee (1992) J. J. Norwich (Medieval European history)
  5. Le maniérisme (2004) P. Falguières (…need a little art history!)
  6. Everything Flows (1970) – Vasily Grossman (novel)
  7. Le musée, histoire mondiale vol 1 (2020) K. Pomain (winner Grand Prix Gobert for historia work 2020)
  8. Im Schatten des Kreml (2019)Udo Lielischkies (former chef ARD-Studio Moscow)
  9. Deutsche Krieger (2020) Sönke Meitzel (German historian)
  10. Easternisation (2016) – G. Rachman (British chief foreign affairs Financial Times)
25
Mar

#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Marina Carr

 

MARCH

Portia Coughlan by Marina Carr by Marina Carr (no photo)

Finish date:   21 March 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A++++++++++
Review: Portia Coughlan (ISBN: 978-0571190232)

 

Good news: Structure: I was NOT expecting this! Act 1 beginning – Act 2 the end – Act 3 the middle! ...an Irish Greek Tragedy.

Good news: Theme: (act 3,3) Portia wonders…”Is our lives followin’ a minute and careful plan…or are we flittin’ from chance to chance? (determinism vs fatalism).

Good news: Puzzles: Ms. Carr fills her play with metaphors, images, objects dripping with symbolism and foreshadowing! (ghost of her twin, white horse statue). I love reading a good play…it is more challenging than a novel!  Act 1,2: “…a day to hop the ram in on the ewes”. You might just read over this but it mirrors Shakespeare! Othello: Act 1,1 “Even now, now, very now, an old black ram is topping your white ewe.”

Good news: Buzz word in the play: MOOD…..and try to connect the dots! Act 1: queer mood — one of your b**chy moods again — Act 3: when your mood changes – her mood has changed again — what sort of a mood? — I’ve lived through every mood…..

Good news: Tension: Act 2,2 ….after the funeral just an explosive family verbal brawl! Portia’s aunt and old prostitute confronts Portia’s bitter grandmother Blaize: “…You know and I know when the ROT began and HOW the ROT began.” As audience/reader ….we must know the truth! NOTE: conversation carried out seriously is it’s own undeniable  action!

Good news: Symbol: Just by reading the list of characters I get an idea what may happen. Symbol: Ghost: The appearance of a ghost (Gabriel) has often been regarded as an omen or portent of death Seeing one’s own ghostly double (Portia is Gabriel’s twin) is a related omen of death.

Good news: New Rule: Reading a play is more work than reading a novel. The night before I read a play I make a list of the characters (names, ages etc). Then I list the acts and scenes and place the names of the characters in the specific scene. Then I go to sleep…and try to find connections between the characters, their names in this play. For example two  characters were named after angels! This helps me imagine what could happen.

Personal: The measure of success in theater is always ‘Does the conversation continue after the play is over? Does the play linger in your mind? Well this play will linger for sure. Ms Marina Carr is a formidable talent and she’s proved it by winning the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize 2017 (165.000 dollar!). Just reading this play was impressive…I cannot imagine the intensity one would feel seeing it on stage. I really miss going to see GREAT performances in a theatre.…so I’ll just have to read plays on paper.

23
Mar

#DutchDictionary Van Dale 150 yr edition

 

  1. Wonderful present…just for me!
  2. 150 years after the first edition …today I celebrated and bought
  3. the Van Dale Dutch dictionary  published….22 March 2022.
  4. This is the only the 16e edition….in the 150 year history.
  5. This three-part dictionary is a ‘mirror of society.
  6. It shows how our changing society affects our language.
  7. ….so thrilled to have these books.
  8. I bought a set when I came to NL decades ago… to learn the language!
  9. Now, I’m fluent in Dutch and want to learn all the …news words.

 

  1. New goal:  Yes, I’m going to read this set… (it will take me months!)
  2. #ReadingCoverToCover
  3. Samuel Johnson…known as the father of the modern dictionary
  4. ..would be so proud of me!
21
Mar

#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Humours of Bandon

MARCH

The Wheelchair on My Face; Charolais; The Humours of Bandon (Modern Plays) by Sonya Kelly by Margaret McAuliffe (no photo)

Finish date: 19 March 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: D-
Review: The Humours of Bandon (ISBN: 978-1350041486)

 

Bad news: I had to think of a way to read this ‘mini’ play. No Acts – No Scenes…a one woman show…a production that lasts just 55 minutes. With the help with a few stage directions when Annie addresses audience during the play I create a structure in the play to help my reading. Two locations: Tallaght Basketball Arena (for competition) – next day in school.

Good news: Title: “The Humours of Bandon” is a well-known Irish jig performed to a tune of the same name. On the eve of the Irish Open championship, we meet Annie, 16 yr old Dubliner, as she takes us through the various successes and disappointments of her Irish Dancing life.

Good news  Message: It examines the importance of coming first and why it matters...

Personal: I expected more…the writing itself is repetitive, verbose, and reminded me of string of soundbites overheard at a dance competition. I wanted to laugh but couldn’t manage  even a chuckle. I’m sure this type of one woman show is best seen on stage. It is described as a play…but it doesn’t even come close.

 

18
Mar

#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Sebastian Barry

 

MARCH

On Blueberry Hill by Sebastian Barry by Sebastian Barry Sebastian Barry

Finish date:  16 March 2022
Genre: Play
Rating: A+++++++
Review: On Blueberry Hill (ISBN: 978-0571342921)

 

Good news: Type of play:  two-hander…with only two main characters.  This is such an easy read compared to a large cast of characters (Shakespeare…for instance!) PJ and Christy are a display of opposites. “…Now we’ve lived together in contentment, more or less, for nigh on twenty year. Like turtle doves. – In prison, I mean, for f**k’s sake, the chances of that.”

Good news: Conflict: There is a clear use of conflict that the audience/reader feels between offstage and on-stage. PJ and Christy reflect on what life is like on the outside of prison (hope, torment). The play evokes a feeling of emotion because…we are all imprisoned in some way in our lives.

Good news: Title: What has Sebastian Barry hidden in the title of the play…On Blueberry Hill. It immediately reminds on of the best selling 1956 song by Fats Domino! This is what I like about plays…the riddles/surprises that you can discover. No spoilers….if you want to know the answer…read the play!

Good news: Humor: Leave it to the Irish to give us a good laugh at the beginning! The first section “PJ” starts with a quote in Gaelic from bible out of chapter Eoin 1 = John 1: “In the beginning was the word… ( Ann so tosach do bhí an briathar…”) What is the link between the bible and the play? Well, I had to laugh…it was a set-up for showing how much fun it was to use the Gaelic word FOCAIL (= word) instead of BRIATHAR ( = word). The former was more FUN…to say! Yes, it sounds like….F**K

Good news: Tension: The two cellmates….address only the audience and never each other! Oh, this is very clever…and comical. The two characters in question often display differences because they are the…BEST of friends and the WORST of enemies.

Personal Goosebumps…when I fished the play. Oh, if you can find this story by Sebastian Barry in the library or better yet buy the Kindle version…please take the time to read this unforgettable play! Mr Barry is one of the best writers in Ireland…and he does not disappoint!
Fats Domino: “I found my freedom, on Blueberry Hill, on Blueberry Hill ….when I found you!”
#Bravo!

Cover…Love it!

16
Mar

#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Oscar Wilde

Charles Laughton and Margaret O’ Brian (1944)

MARCH

The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde

Finish date: 14 March 2022
Genre: Satire
Rating: A
Review: The Canterville Ghost (ISBN: 979-8525073715)

 

Good news: This is a perfect story to read for a bingo card…”space for a satire”. Oscar Wilde pokes fun at Americans with their practicality and common sense and pokes fun at the British with their feeling of aristocratic superiority!

Good news: Irony: The most ironic comical part of the story is that the ghost is more afraid of the family than they are of him! What good is a ghost who cannot scare people?

Good news: Wilde’s gothic setting of an OLD WORLD English castle, Canterville Chase, a traditional haunted castle VS the NEW WORLD residents, Americans…..who scoff at the thought of ghosts! The Americans…. counter the ghost’s chains with lubricant, his bloodstains with Pinkerton’s detergent, and his ghostly laugh with cough syrup. Hilarious!

Personal: This story is well-known but I never got around to reading it. It’s fairy-tale quality assures us of a happy ending. I saw the 1944 film version with Charles Laughton and try to imagine his portrayal of the ghost as a great actor with theatrical panache and flair. When you think of it….Sir Simon (ghost) reminds me of Oscar Wilde himself…larger than life! This was a delightful read!

14
Mar

#ReadingIrelandMonth22 Frank O’Connor

MARCH

The Best of Frank O'Connor by Frank O'Connor by Frank O'Connor Frank O’Connor

Finish date: 12 March 2022
Genre: 6 essays
Rating: D-
Review: The Best of Frank O’Connor (ISBN: 9780307269041)

 

Bad news: Very disappointed with the 6 essays I selected in this book. I’m even having a hard time writing a review about it! If these writings are considered ‘O’Connor’s best’…then I have been deceived.

Bad news: I keep kicking myself for not having read some short stories in this book instead of the essays. O’Connor is called the Irish Chekhov…so he must be doing something right!

Good news: I did discover one of O’Connor’s books that I ordered from UK. It was $$ but is what I’m looking for. Hopefully I will learn more in his lectures given at Trinity University Dublin than what I read in this book: A Short History of Irish literature: A backward look (1968)

Personal: In hindsight these essays were a waste of time. They lacked depth and I felt that the essays were “…phoned in!” I will at least include my notes. IMO…skip the essays in this book and go right to the short stories…as I should have done!

Introduction to a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
According to O’Connor  Joyce’s book is compulsory reading for every young man and woman. I wanted to know why? Didn’t really get an answer from this essay. I had no idea that Joyce uses Aristotle’s On the Soul as one the books he consulted while writing his book.

James Joyce: A Post-Mortem:
Such a great first sentence…the best hook: ”I think I almost said ‘Thank God’ when Joyce died.” Frank O’Connor examinations and dissects segments of Ulysses ( worth reading) and Finnegan’s Wake (…a colossal failure.) (pg 192)

My Father’s Son – George Russel and W.B. Yeats:
Portraits of G. Russel (editor of the Irish Statesman) and W.B. Yeats, Irish romantic poet 20th C . The essay read like a New Yorker Magazine profile…a little reporting, commentary, and analysis…but not much.

Silgo and Yeats:
This selection was taken from O’Connor’s traveling writings. It is just a few anecdotes of the friendship between O’Connor and Yeats…nothing impressive. Mentioned is Yeats’s self-penned epitaph: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by.”

Centenary Address at the Graveside of W.B. Yeats:
This address was written on the 100th birthday of W.B. Yeats. O’ Connor’s task is to say a few things Yeats would have liked him to say about his son, his wife and the greatest weakness of the Irish.

The Tailor and Anstey
The Tailor and Ansty is a 1942 book by Eric Cross about the life of the Irish tailor and storyteller, Timothy Buckley, and his wife Anastasia. The book was banned. O’Connor writes a scathing essay on the effects of this ban that proved…years later to have been unjustified.