April is National Poetry Month, and poetry always makes me think of Sylvia Plath. Even though the only work I’ve ever read by her is The Bell Jar, I have long wanted to explore her poetry. Maybe this is the perfect time to do so. Thoughtfully added to my To Be Read list this month is Plath’s The Colossus.
While debating literature’s greatest heroines with her best friend, thirtysomething playwright Samantha Ellis has a revelation—her whole life, she’s been trying to be Cathy Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights when she should have been trying to be Jane Eyre.
With this discovery, she embarks on a retrospective look at the literary ladies—the characters and the writers—whom she has loved since childhood. From early obsessions with the March sisters to her later idolization of Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today. And, just as she excavates the stories of her favorite characters, Ellis also shares a frank, often humorous account of her own life growing up in a tight-knit Iraqi Jewish community in London. Here a life-long reader explores how heroines shape all our lives.
Dylan Jones’s engrossing, magisterial biography of David Bowie is unlike any Bowie story ever written. Drawn from over 180 interviews with friends, rivals, lovers, and collaborators, some of whom have never before spoken about their relationship with Bowie, this oral history weaves a hypnotic spell as it unfolds the story of a remarkable rise to stardom and an unparalleled artistic path. Tracing Bowie’s life from the English suburbs to London to New York to Los Angeles, Berlin, and beyond, its collective voices describe a man profoundly shaped by his relationship with his schizophrenic half-brother Terry; an intuitive artist who could absorb influences through intense relationships and yet drop people cold when they were no longer of use; and a social creature equally comfortable partying with John Lennon and dining with Frank Sinatra. By turns insightful and deliciously gossipy, DAVID BOWIE is as intimate a portrait as may ever be drawn. It sparks with admiration and grievances, lust and envy, as the speakers bring you into studios and bedrooms they shared with Bowie, and onto stages and film sets, opening corners of his mind and experience that transform our understanding of both artist and art. Including illuminating, never-before-seen material from Bowie himself, drawn from a series of Jones’s interviews with him across two decades, DAVID BOWIE is an epic, unforgettable cocktail-party conversation about a man whose enigmatic shapeshifting and irrepressible creativity produced one of the most sprawling, fascinating lives of our time.
On this anniversary, in the face of the upcoming election, I ask all of us to remember how important unity is, how important fighting for each other is–rather than against. It isn’t that we can’t argue or partake in educated–or, at the very least, adult–conversation about the ideas, the morals, the values that drive us. It takes being respectful, mindful of the fact that not everyone will think like us. This doesn’t mean we can’t come together, find a common goal, and work together to achieve it–while still maintaining our own opinions, our own moral code, our own idea of ethics.
Shake the hand of an American you don’t know today. Thank your chosen deity for giving you another day and choose to appreciate it by showing gratitude to someone else. Give something to someone else–even when you’re feeling your own sense of lack. Put someone else’s perspective ahead of your own, just for a second, and you’ll see the world in a whole new light–especially when you get a smile from the person you boosted today.
When so much of the world is centered on segregating us, breaking us down along ideological, moral, or any other check-boxes, think about what makes (or made) us all the same today–we were attacked for the things that we, as Americans, hold sacred: freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and a never-ending drive for equality among all people–even when all those above us can do is continually show us how “different” they think we are.
The destruction of this day should stand as a lasting reminder of what can happen when we choose to see ideologies before the people who hold them. We are all people, and we all feel the loss of those who suffered at the hands of fear and violence. Let us cooperate, let us compromise, let us try diplomacy, so that no more innocent lives–on either side of the fight–are lost.
Thank you, Gene, for being a bright light and making us smile. Not only did I enjoy your performances in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, YoungFrankenstein,and Blazing Saddles, but I really enjoyed your small stint on Will and Grace as Will’s boss Mr. Stein. The world will be a little less bright without you. Gene was 83 and died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Did you watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix? Did you tear through it? Were you left wanting more? Then check out one of these books, sure to leave you riveted. Filled with the supernatural and extraterrestrial, normal people in bizarre circumstances, and a tinge of nostalgia, these books are must reads for anyone looking for stranger things…
I answered yes to all three of The Reading Room‘s questions above, but I’ve only heard of two of these titles–the King novel The Tommyknockers, for one–but I had no idea that John Dies at the End was a book. Whether it started that way or this is a novelization of the film matters not; it looks like I need to be making a trip to the library!
Have you guys seen Stranger Thingsyet? Did you like it? Do you think this Reading Room list does your feels from the series justice?
I am so excited to have The X Files back in active rotation. Just caught up with the first episode, “My Struggle,” and found it close to form. It generated a lot of new questions, barely answered any old questions, and gave us a whole new revised version of the old conspiracy to theorize about. All I know is I am locked in for the next episode, because I have just got to see how this mini-arc ends.
It was lovely to see Scully and Mulder “back together” and in the most awkward of consequences. They were more often trading barbs than kisses, which I’m okay with either way, but they did a fine job of simply making it feel awkward to watch them together. Again, not a bad thing, they are actors, after all, and it would be awkward to be called by a former boss to find a former lover, who is also a former co-worker, wouldn’t it? And, then, after more than a decade, hang out like it’s old times? Yep, definitely awkward.
We also get to see Skinner and the Cigarette-Smoking Man. Sans awkwardness, but with heated exchanges and statements of the obvious, respectively. And then there’s Joel McHale, playing buddy believer with Mulder, as a conservative TV host, who the New York Timesfelt was miscast here. But I thought he brought just enough energy, zeal, and overt seriousness (I mean, sometimes it felt like he was just trying too hard there.) to bring that character to life. It just reminds me that I need to start watching Community.
Overall, I was pleased, and I’m looking forward to where this little reboot takes us.
Oh, Alan Rickman, not you, too. So sad to see another favorite leave this world a little darker due to cancer. Master Rickman was 69 and will be greatly missed. Like Master Bowie, it has been a delight to share this time on Earth with you. Read the lovely Guardian article here.
Congratulations to Quentin Tarantino!! I have been a big fan of his movies since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I love how he tells a story, the actors he works with, and his dialogue is always intelligent and engaging. I haven’t seen a Tarantino film that I didn’t like. Pure entertainment, and well earned! Congrats to the folks who joined him in the “Class of 2016”. Click the image to see the entire USA Today article.
Love his quote:
“That’s really cool, I must have become a big shot,” he joked during his speech. “This is a real, real groovy day.”
On December 3, the world lost a bright rock ‘n’ roll light. Scott Weiland, famous front man for the Stone Temple Pilots (1986-2002; 2008-2013), Velvet Revolver (2002-2007), and the currently on-tour Wildabouts, was found dead, having passed in his sleep, on his tour bus just before a show in Bloomington, MN was scheduled to begin. The music world will definitely be a little more gray without him.
May you be peaceful and happy, wherever you are.
Here are two of my personal favorites from the Weiland repertoire.
With Stone Temple Pilots:
With Velvet Revolver:
Has anyone heard any of the new music from Scott and the Wildabouts? They released an album under that band name this year called Blaster. It includes a cover of T.Rex‘s “20th Century Boy”, which I find quite pleasing to the ear:
Simon & Schuster just sent along some information on Stephen King‘s newest short story collection. Here’s what they had to say about it. Certainly can’t wait to dig my claws into it!
A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.
There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.
Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”