What are you reading?

Films, TV shows, and books of the 'modern' era

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Birdy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Birdy »

My friend, a librarian, is addicted to her kindle. She reads so voraciously, that she can have multiple books lined up on her account. She says this is cheaper than buying books and may save her life by avoidance of a crushing by a huge pile of books. She also likes being able to change the type size as suits her comfort and says the light device helps with her wrist arthritis. However, she still buys a lot of books (compared to the average bear) and checks out plenty through the library system. She also buys cheap paperbacks from our book sale as she says you should not take a Kindle in a rowboat.

The kindle is not for me, but I also said that about texting at one time.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I'm just sorting out my holiday reading.

Charles Boyer The Reluctant Lover

Kevin Brownlow - David Lean.

Good Night Sweet Prince about John Barrymore

They've all made the cut so far and they will be joined by others, I always take far too many books. My husband would love it if I had a kindle.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I polished Charles Boyer the Reluctant Lover off in record time. Such a well written biography about a man I always enjoy on film regardless of whether he plays a good guy or a villian. He respects his subject, made me respect Charles Boyer all the more. So many things that I didn't know about his life and even though I regard his work highly I didn't realise how highly regarded by his contemproraries he was and how varied his film work was. Here was a Hollywood icon who remained faithful to his wife and had a long and happy marriage and continued to make films in Europe and America. He enlisted in the French army straight away serving 11 weeks before someone realised that Charles Boyer the great star was working as a radio operator on the Maignot line, he was persuaded that he would be of far more use making films and helping in diplomatic areas. During the war he helped many leave France and come to America where they would be safer. Thankfully the book doesn't dwell on the tragedy of his later life, it covers only a handful of pages at the end. I was deeply moved by how he treated his wife during her terminal illness, she wasn't to know, she thought she had hepatitis and that her treatment was going to make her better. He enlisted the help of doctors and friends to keep it a secret and spent every moment with her. He didn't attend her funeral, instead he spent the day putting his affiars in order before ending his own life. Perhaps it's me, perhaps it's the way the book is written but I was deeply moved by his love for his wife.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

MikeBSG
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by MikeBSG »

I just finished "Winston's War" by Max Hastings. It looks at Winston Churchill's wartime stint as Prime Minister and is gripping reading. It is not blind admiration of Churchill, although Hastings clearly admires Chruchill a lot. Very well done, it does a lot to explain (for the American reader) Churchill's relationship with the British people and political party system.

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Birdy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Birdy »

Plum fans: Grandma Mazur cast: Debbie Reynolds! she may be a little plump, but she's certainly got the spirit!

jdb1

Re: What are you reading?

Post by jdb1 »

Birdy wrote:Plum fans: Grandma Mazur cast: Debbie Reynolds! she may be a little plump, but she's certainly got the spirit!


Great! I think that's brilliant casting.

I just started Plum Lovin'. I hadn't before read any of these in-betweeners. So, Birdy, how much of all of this prodigious output do you think Evanovich really writes by herself? There are all those romance books as well. I don't mean that she doesn't write them at all, but there are so many books that it's possible she just does an outline and lets a ghost fill in the details. I understand that some of the Babysitter's Club series my daughter was so fond of was written this way. But I'm not complaining -- whoever is writing Stephanie is doing it very well.

Have you read E's books about the NASCAR circuit? Very similar to the Plum series. I read one which I liked, although I don't know much about racing. I haven't seen any others, but I'm under the impresssion that there are more.

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Birdy
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Birdy »

Judith,
I read the inbetween the numbers novels, but have trouble with the 'unmentionables' and suspending my belief. For some reason, I believe Stephanie can blow up a dozen vehicles, but just can't buy that Diesel dematerializes. They do have the same fun humor, though. Diesel gets his own series starting next month.

I hadn't really thought about whether she writes them all; they only come out once a year and it's not like the plots are leading into some big climax like the battle of good versus evil in Harry Potter, so I suppose someone else could fill in the blanks...have her put on a t-shirt and jeans, buy donuts and Cluckin' Chicken and pick up Grandma Mazur at the funeral home (again). I really like that it all just doesn't follow a traditional serial and she never really changes much. I just recently learned that the VC Andrews books were mostly ghost written. (I never read any of them past the first, Flowers in the Attic. Ick.) And of course, the Nancy Drews and Trixie Beldon's (in later years).

I like the Alex Barnaby books, there are 2 novels and they have the same sense of humor. There is a new one coming out, which is to be a graphic novel. ??!! Maybe I will venture into a new genre.

I read a couple of her romance novels, but they were mostly forgettable. It is clear that she was honing her craft. A couple had hints of her developing her sense of humor, but I recently tried one and it was so dry I didn't even bother finishing it. She had written it under another name (Steffie something) and I think she should have left it under the unknown nom de pen!

It's gret to have something to look forward to reading and when you discover another fan, you instantly have a great conversation starter. Who needs ereligion or politics when you have Stephanie and Grandma Mazur!

jdb1

Re: What are you reading?

Post by jdb1 »

Have you read "A Confederacy of Dunces?" There's a great comic novel that cries out for a film version. I feel a lot of that book's esthetic in the Stephanie Plum books, which is probably why I like them so much. The Plum series is Confederacy of Dunces Lite.

Maybe it will all be OK and the movie won't disappoint. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV series wasn't quite the same as the books, but it was very nice in its own right.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I've read Good Night Sweet Prince by Gene Fowler a biography of John Barrymore. I have mixed feelings, it was written by a friend of Barrymore's, so he does not live up to the legend but the legend is nearly always distorted given time. Fowler would have it that towards the end of his life Barrymore drank very little, he needed very little to feel drunk and to have a proper drink would induce a trip to the hospital. I've read about other famous drunks but don't know whether this is tru as to the capacity he was drinking, it could be that a friend is trying to be kind here or it could be that the author is guarding his legacy already awash with rumour. It's obvious he had a huge talent but for me not enough detail was gone in to about his films and stage career. I feel like Barrymore just stumbled into it and was very good at it as it happened. I like the fact that it was a friendly look at the man but almosst feel like I'd like to read of his life but a current respectful author.
Last edited by charliechaplinfan on August 20th, 2010, 5:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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moira finnie
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by moira finnie »

CCfan, for more info about Barrymore's life, you might enjoy reading John Kobler's Damned in Paradise: The Life of John Barrymore, a very well researched bio which was published in 1977, drawing on Gene Fowler's book as well as many more private papers about the actor. It's tragic but far more even-handed about the actor's life. I also enjoyed Margot Peters' The House of Barrymore, which did a great job of telling the stories of the whole family, from their English roots to the '90s, but with the majority of the book examining the lives of the three most famous siblings, Jack, Lionel and Ethel.

Fowler's book about Barrymore and his crowd was one of the first tributes written about the actor relatively soon after his death, so it may not really be objective, though it certainly was vivid! Gregory Mank has recently written another, fuller account of Barrymore, Fields, Flynn, Fowler, John Decker, John Carradine, Ben Hecht and Sadakichi Hartmann and their gang in Hollywood's Hellfire Club: The Misadventures of John Barrymore, W.C. Fields, Errol Flynn and the Bundy Drive Boys which I read, but found more repulsive than entertaining or revelatory.

Regarding Fowler's belief that Barrymore required little alcohol to get drunk and was relatively sober near the end of his life, I can say that alcoholics I've known do not need very much to become drunk. From what I can recall reading about Barrymore near the end of his life, his poor body was so ravaged by his excesses, he may have had a form of near senility, and was only one step ahead of his creditors, ex-wives and the IRS, but seemed determined to go on. He still could occasionally rally to show flashes of his old fire and comic as well as dramatic brilliance, as he did in his performance in one of his last decent roles in The Great Man Votes (1939). The actor needed all his lines written out for him on chalk boards strategically placed around the set to be able to perform, but neophyte writer-director Garson Kanin believed it was well worth the effort and admired the actor's skill and spirit while working with him. Kanin wrote quite a bit about this in his 1984 memoir, Hollywood, though as usual, it might be best to take all these accounts with a grain of salt.
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by feaito »

Since I finished the Garbo book by Vieira (EXCELLENT) I began reading at nights "Hollywood Dreams Made Real -Irving Thalberg and the Rise of MGM" also by Mark Vieira, which is an excellent companion book to Thalberg's Biography -by Vieira too- which I'm reading during my rides on the subway towards and from my workplace. I've been definitely in a Vieira mood!

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Thanks for filling me in about other Barrymore biographies Moira. The Fowler book left me intrigued by what it didn't say and it didn't say a lot about his alcoholism apart from mentioning cures he tried. There was something of a naughty little boy about him, I'm sure his ex wives didn't harbour him any grudges and he seemed to genuinely love Dolores Costello, it seemed that the fairytale fantasy of his head couldn't live up to the reality of life with his beloved Dolores. His romance with Dolores being one of the parts of the book where Barrymore really comes alive. I still don't understand his reputation apart from what I have seen on the screen, this book didn't really explain what it was about him that was so great on stage and doesn't really touch his films. There was also a kind of covering up about his last wife Elaine Barrie, it's quite obvious that the author and his cronies didn't like her without saying too much to get into a libel suite.

I've now started David Lean by Kevin Brownlow, now here's a man I find it difficult to warm to, I love his movies and I love Kevin's way of writing, it's excellent with lots of film details in there.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by MichiganJ »

charliechaplinfan wrote:I've now started David Lean by Kevin Brownlow
.
This is definitely a great read.

Some interesting film books I'm reading:

The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film, 1928-1942 by Lea Jacobs. Examines a number of Fallen Woman films and the censorship issues that they encountered from states and various reform groups.

Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 20s edited by Patrice Petro. Sometimes frustrating but often very interesting writings about various silents stars and their impact on society, etc. Disappointed on the chapter on the Talmadge sisters, but the chapter on African American stardom was very insightful.

Novels:

Let Me In by John Ajvide Lingvist. Read a translation of this Swedish book and it's one of the best vampire books out there. Loved the film (Let the Right One In) and the book naturally allows for considerable more character information, motivation, and there's a bit more gruesomeness, too.

Stone's Fall by Ian Pears. A historical mystery I've just started. So far it's not as good as Pears' stunning An Instance of the Fingerpost, but I remember not thinking much of Fingerpost during the opening pages either.

Non-fiction:

The Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter. This was supposed to be my "insomnia book" as I was expecting a dry, almost scholarly account of the tomb's discovery. Instead it's a fascinating and thrilling page-turner. And boy am I tired.

Sumo: A Thinking Fan's Guide To Japan's National Sport by David Benjamin. Love the sport, love the book.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: What are you reading?

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I'm loving the Lean book so far, very well written with lots of information about the films.

I watched What Price Hollywood this afternoon and noticed that the script had been written by Gene Fowler and starred Lowell Sherman who was John Barrymore's brother in law and according to Gene Fowler's book persuaded Dolores to leave John Barrymore telling her he'd never change. Quite a coincidence.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: What are you reading?

Post by Lzcutter »

Having finished Jeffrey Vance's wonderful bio of Doug Fairbanks, I am now reading Corn Flakes with John Lennon by former LA Times music critic, Robert Hilburn.
Hilburn grew up in the south in the 1940s and came of age during the days of Sun Records, Elvis, Johnny Cash, R&B, Country/Western and more. Those influences helped him become one of the most respected voices writing about Rock and Roll for over forty years.

He helped put Elton John on the map with his review of John at the Troubadour in West Hollywood in the early 1970s as My Song was just coming out. He covered Dylan, became friends with John Lennon, knew Janis Joplin, Kris Kristofferson, championed Bruce Springsteen (always) and was one of the first to understand Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks' appeal.

It's an entertaining book that offers more than just a rehash of his greatest reviews and gives the reader a behind the scenes look at some of the biggest names, biggest successes and some of the awful tragedy and those who should have been more well known (that would be John Prine and Steve Goodman) over the course of his forty plus years writing for the LA Times,

I am really enjoying it. I got the book for Mr. Cutter for Christmas and he read it first. We spent a delightful evening talking about the book (sipping wine) and the people covered and all that we remembered of the history of rock and roll and the City of Angels. Mr Cutter was an early stereophile so he takes recorded audio VERY seriously.

He enjoyed the book, too.
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