What Are You Reading

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Lancealot, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    It's hard to imagine a time when John Steinbeck and Klaus Barbie could be on the same payroll, but if there was such a time, it would have been (gak) The Fifties.
     
  2. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  3. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    bettehat.jpg Bette_Davis_in_All_About_Eve_trailer.jpg
    The Lonely Life by Bette Davis, published in 1962

    One of the hallmarks of an Ayn Rand character is his/her singular drive and ability to pave his/her own path. In Rand's books, her heroes are individualists who passionately but unemotionally pursue their goals - calm in the face of adversity and, even, brutal mendacity. As she chose for the title of her magnum opus, they are Atlases holding the world aloft despite the world's best effort to break them.

    In real life, stringent individualists in singular pursuit of a goal can be a handful for the rest of us - emotional, screamers, breakers of glass, egotists - basically, pains in the arses, but they do move the world forward through their ardent will, egotism, effort, almost-miniacial commitment and relentless drive. They might work with others, but their success is only a collective effort in the broadest sense of the word; many of the world's achievements - its accomplishments - belong to, let's just say it, the arrogant individuals.

    Bette Davis is one such arrogant individual and she wouldn't and doesn't deny it one bit. While a liberal in her political views - a huge fan of FDR - Davis is a Randian libertarian at heart. She believes that those with outsized talent and drive have a right to break the rules, push others out of the way and do whatever it takes to, in her case, make the play or movie better. If feelings get hurt, people get fired - so be it; the goal of making the best movie, with the best acting is what matters / those who can't keep up and contribute should find another line of work. Howard Roark would be proud.

    While all the other elements of a normal biography are here - family (emotionally cold father, insanely devoted mother, overshadowed sister), early life, career ups and downs, one failed marriage after another (she really was married to her career first and her husbands' egos couldn't stand that or her out earning them), her work is her life and the heart and soul of the biography.

    And it doesn't disappoint. She gives credit aplenty to others - and names names - and assigns blame and failure - (mainly) without naming names - but not holding back otherwise. And this inside Hollywood stuff is the real fun of the book - she drops in plenty of anecdotes about her movies, her costars, her directors and the Brothers Warner, Jack in particular.

    Published in '62, it seems to have just predated her '62 career-boosting comeback "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," but it probably doesn't matter as Bette Davis was born Bette Davis, lived her entire life as Bette Davis and, from other things I've read, died as Bette Davis - one of the world's best actresses who pushed whatever she had to out of the way to let her talent shine through.

    I'm sure its varnished - whoever wrote a an autobiography that didn't blend in a little hagiography? - but it's short, fast and unvarnished enough to make it one of Hollywood's better reads. Plus this, the great "ridding crop habit flip" maneuver ⇩ from Jezebel was self taught in a marathon overnight session followed by forty-five takes: something an actress - and Ayn Rand hero - not a star, would do. Bette Davis was, above all else, an actress.

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    MissMittens likes this.
  4. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    "Cant Anybody Here Play This Game? The Improbable Saga of the New York Mets' First Year," by Jimmy Breslin.

    This is one of the classic baseball books of the 1960s, and one of the most entertaining sports books, of any genre, ever written -- the goofy 42-120 story of the hapless expansion Mets in their first storied season. But it's also more than that -- it's an unexpectedly profound rumination on what it actually means to be a fan of a bad team.

    The "New Breed" of fans who flocked to the Polo Grounds to the tune of nearly a million people in the summer of 1962 were puzzling to many writers at the time -- why go to such absurd lengths to support what was, by any standard, a terrible ball club. But Breslin, with his man-of-the-street working-class point of view firmly in grasp, was the first writer to really understand a deep truth. It's not the *players* who are the "lovable losers." *We* are:

    "You see, the Mets are losers, just like nearly everybody else in life. This is a team for the cab driver who gets held up and the guy who loses out on a promotion because he didn't maneuver himself to lunch with the boss enough. It is the team for every guy who has to get out of bed in the morning and go to work for short money on a job he does not like. And it is the team for every woman who looks up ten years later and sees her husband eating dinner in a t-shirt and wonders how the hell she ever let this guy talk her into getting married."

    This is a very short book -- more of an extended magazine article, really -- and if you're looking for a meticulous game-to-game account of the Mets' miraculous futility, this isn't it. What it is is an impression of what it was like to be a New York National League baseball fan, still in mourning for what you'd lost in 1957, and now suddenly confronted with a team studded with familiar faces -- Roger Craig, Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, Charlie Neal -- doing absurdly unfamiliar things. You either had to turn away in disgust at the cynicism of it all, or Step Right Up And Meet The Mets -- and embrace them in all their absurdity.

    Dozens of radio broadcasts of 1962 Mets games survive, and I've listened to all of them -- so in a way, I can relate to this team as more than just a historical oddity. Most of the events Breslin describes are events I've heard unfold in real time. There really was something appealing in their desperate ineptness, and although Breslin does occasionally embroider the facts to heighten the humor, you can't make up the essence of what this team was, or what it meant to its fans.

    At the end of the book, Breslin lets the smirking mask slip for a moment, and what you get is a real sense of the deep betrayal he felt when the Dodgers and Giants left town.

    "Take a cab ride through Brooklyn and turn off the Eastern Parkway at Bedford Avenue and go down four blocks. Then you see what time and money-hungry people did to a way of life...

    This is why the New York Mets come out as something more than a baseball team as far as an awful lot of people are concerned. The Mets are a part of life. You can start keeping track of time with them. They are not going to move for money...

    The Mets lose an awful lot?

    Listen, mister, think a little bit.

    When was the last time you won anything out of life?"
     
    BKM and Tiki Tom like this.
  5. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Those last Breslin excerpts are brilliant.
     
    BKM likes this.
  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Recently read another New York Times baseball feature, Latest Casualty of MLB, a focus piece on ole apple
    in the Big Apple--- Yankees Tanaka conundrum over his favorite splitter come undone. His opponent batting average
    against him is .292 now with a cumulative 4.93 ERA rack but the apple is rotten, needs a new grip; across the seams, which are incrementally lower, thus aerodynamically altered juice squeezed fresh in Costa Rica.
    The big kahunas say its just a little drag, that's all folks.
    __________

    Speaking of drag, Cubs ace J Lester got mauled last night against
    the As; however, Woodie and Dutch proved themselves quite capable
    in relief and Woodie can close if needed. Cubs close by committee now
    with K out IL.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2019
    Fading Fast likes this.
  7. MJCR

    MJCR One of the Regulars

    Messages:
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    Currently re-reading The Three Musketeers for a work related project, then The Crying of Lot 49 for a blog post.
     
  8. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Where We Stand; Jewish Consciousness on Campus by Allan L Smith

    Found a good ecumenical college scene read to supplement my evening sports page train commute.
     
  9. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    Location:
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    Book number 12 (I think) in Martin Walker’s “Bruno Chief of Police” series. The Body in the Castle Well is the title. It is very unlike me to be so invested in a detective series, but somehow the series has become a fixed part of each summer. On the surface, yes, it’s all about village life in rural France and has lots of good food and wine and history porn. But mostly, after all these books I know the likable main character very well and, equally importantly, I know his group of friends too. Throw in a touch of international intrigue & current issues and I’m very satisfied. The books are kind of slow moving and Bruno is a fool in the hands of the women who mistreat him (he wants a wife and kids, they don’t but are happy to have their fun with him.) The murder cases are almost beside the point. Anyway, these books are my summer vice.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 at 8:15 AM
  10. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Slider by Patrick Robinson. Baseball literature, college level, looks good.
     

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