I wrote down everything I read and began writing my own first novel...

This blog aimed to contrast what I was reading in in 1975-79 with the same month, week and day, 30 years later in 2005-2009. I'm leaving the blog up in archive mode, blogging in real time on Live Journal--and still writing novels.

Lynne Murray's Live Journal and Bride of the Dead Blog

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Backstage at strips…and with strippers…

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday--whatever yours might be. I like the Buddhist idea of starting fresh with the new year--paying bills by year-end, pre-spring housecleaning, etc. A Buddhist friend pointed out that you could (and we probably should) start out fresh every day of the year, but being humans we need to be reminded by having a day set out for the purpose. It certainly serves the purpose of allowing me to postpone the whole new start thing till next week when the actual new year arrives.

Nostalgia and holidays seem to go together, but I try to resist it by means of escaping into fiction, and more recently movies on DVDs. Thirty years ago I couldn't have imagined watching all the BBC dramatizations of Jane Austen's novels (advertised as 17 hours of Jane Austen!); now modern technology has made it easier to escape into the the past.

My holiday reading 30 years ago and this year provide some common themes, or maybe just strange bedfellows. "Backstage at the comic strips" in 1976 and backstage at strip clubs in 2006. Then there's the Alan Alda autobiography that includes fond memories of watching from the wings as his father performed in burlesque, singing while showgirls paraded onstage.

I do find it a little amusing that the one "literary" work on this list back in 1976 is the one I never managed to finish reading.

From December 11 to 23, 1976, I read:

Heroes, Joe McGinnis
I've read some of his other books, notably: The Selling of the President 1968 and Blind Faith, but I don't always connect them as being written by the same person…for what that's worth as an insight.Here's an article on him.

Backstage at the Strips, Mort Walker
One of the major motivations to learn to read for me was to be able to read the comic strips, including Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey, in the Sunday newspaper.

How It Was, Mary Hemingway
This 1961 Time Article
is actually a pretty comprehensive appreciation of Hemingway.

Turquoise Lament, John D. MacDonald

The Sentinel, Jeffrey Konvitz

Konvitz co-authored the screenplay as well (too scary for me, though the book wasn't quite so scary).

Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
My note is "Only got as far as page 67…" Oh, well, maybe one day...

From December 11 to 23, 2006, I read:

Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America, Lily Burana
Backstage at a whole different kind of strip, Lily Burana is taking a final strip odyssey across the US in order to come to terms with a five-year stretch stripping in her teens and twenties before getting married. Burana now lives in Wyoming and writes fiction as well as nonfiction.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned, Alan Alda
Interesting autobiography and insights from Alan Alda, who seems as genial and witty on paper as he is on film and video.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Structural integrity in characters & character integrity in life

November 25 to December 10, 1976 I read:

Caution, Inflammable, Thomas N. Scortia
Short stories.
Thomas N. Scortia

Josh, My Up and Down, In and Out Life, Joshua Logan
What I now remember about this book was Logan's thoughtful discussion of his struggles with manic depression and how it both helped and hurt his art.
an appreciation

However, my note to myself on reading the book was more structural:

Interesting point: Maxwell Anderson's definition of enduring drama--a hero must learn his own fatal flaw and grows in the process.
Logan's def. of farce as desperation of characters over a misunderstanding or problem that is tragic to them, ridiculous to the audience. The characters' mounting desperation captures the attention and makes the farce "move rapidly."

November 25 to December 10, 2006 I read:

Don't Weight: Eat Healthy and Get Moving Now!, Kelly Bliss

I wouldn't have bought this book if I hadn't read Kelly Bliss's website. I was curious to hear the rest of her story. But I'm glad I did. In 1980, long before Jennifer Portnick's discrimination case against Jazzercise, detailed in an interview here, Kelly Bliss was encountering blatant prejudice against instructors, however fit and talented. At 5 feet tall and 127 pounds, she was frankly told that she could not be hired, despite her excellent qualifications, because she did not fit their company image of an extremely thin instructor. The suggestions the interviewer made were identical to the advice Bliss had received years earlier that had sent her into an eating disorder.

She responded first of all by tell the interviewer just what kind of damage she was doing by handing out such advice(go Kelly!), then she went out to start her own classes, offering low impact exercise at a time when it was rarely offered. She made such a success of this business that she was about to start her own studio in 1991, when a traffic accident left her with a seizure disorder and she had to begin again. Just coming back from that kind of injury is impressive, but she gained the wisdom from the experience to reach out to others in new ways. Bliss's accomplishments in mentoring and inspiring others are very healing just to read about. Few people offer such a contagiously positive attitude. Her creative problem solving approaches to fitness for people of all sizes and levels of ability totally charmed me.

Touch the Dark, Karen Chance

This book raised a question for me--at what point do I put down a book that has a fat joke or jokes. Sometimes, as in the case of several of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, I will read the whole book despite long, painful scenes of blatant fat bigotry, simply because the author is an irresistible storyteller. In this case, when the evil master vampire is described as "a soccer ball with legs" I realized that the author was trying to whip up the reader's negative emotions by describing the villain as disgustingly fat. Mission accomplished. Negative emotions whipped up.

I was only on p. 43. Maybe there were other fat jokes, or just the usual horny paranormal critters with flat stomachs. The author did bring out disgust in me, and hadn't hooked me hard enough with her storytelling to keep me reading. So I decided I'd hit a good stopping place and put the book down with no interest in picking it up again.

Anybody Out There?: A Novel, Marian Keyes

I have read most of Marian Keyes books with great pleasure and this was no exception. Part of her skill here is to keep suspense high simply by slowly revealing why and how the heroine sustained her serious physical injuries and what is behind her emotional pain, and then, once that is revealed unfolding how she copes with it.

Dead Man Rising, A Dante Valentine Novel, Lilith Saintcrow
In this second in the series, heroine and Necromance, Dante, doesn't actually go visit hell and accept an assignment from the Prince of Darkness as she did in Working for the Devil, but the plot is equally dramatic. I enjoyed it.
A detailed review.