Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Period Drama Ain't Dead

Via enchanted serenity of period films, the BBC reports that "Gosford Park" scribe Julian Fellowes (with a name like that, this career is clearly his destiny) is penning a new country-house period drama for ITV1.

Here's the deets, "Set in 1912, Downton Abbey will portray the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them."

I, for one, am excited.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kiera Knightley Snark-Tweetfest immortalized

I went a little wild on twitter earlier upon catching Kiera on Oxygen tv. Then some folks joined in! Here is (an abridged version of) what happened. People's response tweets are in bold.

The Kiera Knightley "Pride & Prejudice is on". Her stupid teeth/ lack of boobs ruin every hot Matthew MacFayden scene. unfeminist, but true.

what I meant by that is that her poor acting skills and girlish demeanor ill befit the character of Lizzy Bennet

eaton @fellowette Don't JUDGE me, Lizzy! Don't you dare JUDGE me!

@eaton Oh, Charlotte, let me make amends by anachronistically grinning and giggling, thereby showing you my white shiny movie star teeth!

stephaniesays @fellowette I never thought she had the "bright eyes," imo.

stephaniesays I know. It's too bad because I actually like Kiera and think she's gorgeous. She's just all kinds of wrong for the role.

kafkatronic @fellowette And then there's the bad wig, with her real (short) hair always poking out from under it in the back.

janeaustenworld @fellowette Agreed. Sh
e was an inept Lizzie.

@fellowette Can't stand Keira Knightley (incl stupid teeth/lack of boobs), so please: HAVE AT IT!

oh now here's the scene where mr./mrs. bennet snuggle in bed and joke CAUSE THEY REALLY HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE just as jane austen intended
and now Lady Catherine is showing up in the middle of the night! cause that makes lots of sense.

(no hate to Judi Dench intended, I worship you, dame Judi)

and now the movie turns into Jane Eyre. Having left the bigamist rochester, lizzy bennet wanders the misty moors in her nightclothes

only to espy a Gentleman shrouded by fog striding towards her! IS IT HE???????

And he tells her "Lizzy. I killed Rebecca. I HATED her!" and all is well

is it me or does Matthew MacFayden walk the equivalent of thousands of miles just by constantly, anxiously pacing throughout this film?

kafkatronic .@fellowette I have met ppl who actually think Jane Austen wrote the "I you" bit. Those ppl now sleep with the fishes...

Oh god. here comes "mrs darcy, mrs darcy mrs darcy" and the hairy calves/swimming pool ending.

teresareads Amen. RT @janeaustenworld @fellowette Absolutely HORRID American ending to P&P 2005. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. Mrs. Darcy. UGGH.

Last snark re: movie. Pemberley's supposed to be like Lizzy: natural, simple, unadorned. This pemberley is like MTV cribs: regency edition.

@teresareads @janeaustensworld @writemeg @kafkatronic @susanchamplin @eaton and @stephaniesays as well! thks 4 joining P&P live-snark. I <3 style="font-style: italic;">

THE END (thus saith the goddess divine on tuesdays, something else some other days, and of course Mrs. Darcy Mrs Darcy Mrs Darcy when she is in-can-descently happy!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Can I get a show of hands? Are you guys "Mad Men" fans?

(my Mad Men avatar that doesn't resemble me)

Dear readers,

I've been doing a lot of mad-men obsessing, reading, writing and freaking in anticipation of the premiere. (My post at the Jewish Daily Forward .com about my obsession w/ Rachel Menken: plus a "salon" at RHRealitycheck here

I was wondering if any of my regular posse of readers are fans of the show and would be interested in regular Don Draper blogging here on Sundays/Mondays. Or should we save that regular TV-talk for the return of Masterpiece?

That Old Cape Magic: is Russo Misogynist? (NO!)

Richard Russo's new novel, That Old Cape Magic, is book-ended by a pair of weddings on the New England shore, a disastrous year in protagonist Griffin's life separating the nuptials. The first wedding, a family friend's, takes place on Cape Cod, and Griffin decides to scatter his father's ashes in the ocean after the ceremony. This is where he spent his childhood summers, and he treasured those trips as a respite from his parents' ultimately failed marriage, their constant conflict pausing for an annual seaside truce. Needless to say, fate gets in the way of his neatly-laid plans and a year later, after walking his daughter down the aisle in Maine, Griffin a takes another trip with two urns of ashes in his trunk--to scatter on opposite side of the Cape as his parents would want it-- and a woman who's not his wife sitting beside him. Whether he can pull himself and his family back together is the central question at the end of this wry, wise novel, which is lighter but no less profound than Russo's previous fare.

I found this book sweet and absorbing, and I'm glad it didn't end with a tragic shooting like certain others of his books, although there was some comic minor violence during the climactic wedding scene. It's a great late-summer read.
He's one of the few "serious" authors out there who can actually make me LOL. (Have you ever noticed how hard it is for a novel to make you LOL? It's a real feat.)

And that's why I was so mad recently when there was a mini literary kerfluffle when a Newsweek reporter asked "Is Russo a misognyist?" and then answered herself with a "yes." She cited authors like Philip Roth and John Updike as counter examples of male-oriented storytellers who fall short of sexist. This is kind of mind-blowing example of when the tools of feminist cultural analysis are applied wrongly (feminism FAIL?).

I'll just compare two Pulitzer-winning American Epics to refute her.

In Roth's American Pastoral "the Swede"'s daughter is a heartless fat hippie who ruins her father's life by bombing the local post office to protest Vietnam, while his ingrate beauty queen wife copes with their despair and fall from grace by diddling his best friend or neighbor or some such. Basically, bitches just walk in and step all over this nice guy's hard-fought existence running a glove factory in Newark. AND THAT'S AMERICA.

In Russo's Empire Falls, yes the protagonist Miles's ex-wife is a bitch but she's a comical one--obsessed with fitness, she leaves Miles for a gym owner who can pound her abs into shape. But his daughter Tick is the story's real heroine, a burgeoning feminist who is wise, quirky, lovable and vulnerable. Meanwhile Miles' mother in law takes his side in the divorce and is generally a font of wisdom and hilarity. She runs a bar, for chrissakes. She is awesome. (Then there's a school shooting. AND THAT'S AMERICA.)

So in sum, yeah clearly Philip Roth is great for women and Richard Russo hates them. NOT. What a shocker--Newsweek is giving feminist criticism a bad name. Because the only books that are sexist are the ones that I say are sexist :) The end.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Feminist Cultural News Roundup

"Target: Women"'s Sarah Haskins is co-writing a screenplay for a film to be produced by Natalie Portman called "Booksmart." According to Variety, it will be about "two overachieving high school seniors who realize the only thing they haven't accomplished is having boyfriends, and each resolves to find one by prom."
Girl geeks of the world, rejoice! Unless the heroines are stereotypically asexual. But I have hope.

A great article in the Guardian about a group of farmers' wives in a mountainous region of Turkey who have formed a badass theater collective and are interpreting Shakespeare, among other things.

Speaking of pseudo-feminist flicks, anyone out there see the adorable "Julie and Julia" this weekend? I thought it was, for lack of a better word, delicious--particularly the fun first hour before the obligatory conflict was introduced.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Literary News Round-Up

h/t Zach: The Harvard Lampoon is following up their lame-oh LOTR parody "Bored of the Rings" with a new book-length Twilight satire, called "Nightlight." Could be funny--cover image has potential---but then again it comes out of Harvard. heh.

A Double X writer on the Death of Chick Lit as a category. Breezy-clumsy-funny heroines seeking love and fulfillment can no longer work high-powered jobs and live a life of fabulosity. Times have changed. Money is scarce. Etc. etc. (One thing that won't evolve, IMO?? Lighthearted books aimed at women will be taken un-seriously.)

The Lovely Bones Trailer
. I confess to loving the book and devouring it the summer it came out as well as later reading and liking Alice Sebold's graphic rape memoir, Lucky for the same reason--a combination of sublime and macabre. And of course I love Peter Jackson. So I'm psyched. Your thoughts?

The Guardian's "Not the Booker Prize" has moved on to its next stage with a long longlist and a request for judging.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Miss Marple--Your Reactions?

Now that the four "Marple" mysteries have been aired and digestsed, I offer my take. I thought they declined in quality til the last one was a bit absurd. But on the whole they were delicious fun. The first, "A Pocketful of Rye" was the most quintessential: manor house, debauched family, intrigue, wills, etc etc. The second, "Murder is Easy" involving an unbelievable spate of crime in a small and quaint village, was almost as delightful with a terrific cast of who's who's--but the huge body count was a bit disconcerting. The third, "They Do It With Mirrors" was well-acted and had a great central group of characters but veered towards the bizarre and I didn't like the tragic ending. As for the final ep, "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?". Well what can I say--it took campy mystery to a whole new level. It was definitely the weakest. But it didn't spoil the tenor of the bunch--Julia McKenzie rocked.

So that was my twitter-like take on the series. What did you all think?

Literary Ice Cream Time!

I'm a little late on this, but I had to mention it. Carolyn Kellogg reports on a Facebook petition to name a book or library-themed Ben & Jerry's flavor. She writes:

Suggestions included Gooey Decimal System (dark chocolate alphabet letters with caramel swirls in hazelnut ice cream), Rocky Read (vanilla with chocolate-covered nuts, chocolate chunks and raisins) and Sh-sh-sh-Sherbet! (either lime or chocolate/vanilla).

But, like an autodidact left free to roam the stacks, later ideas have strayed from the original to embrace anything bookish, related to authors or reading or titles.

Like Bookworms, with Gummi Worms in the ice cream, a suggestion on the Facebook page. The Judy Blume coming-of-age homage Are You There God? It's Me, Marshmallow, from the comments on Jezebel. Two from the New Yorker's Book Bench: Writer’s Block (coffee with fudge chunks and nicotine stains) and Chick Lit (fat-free peach-mango swirl with pieces of Chicklets chewing gum)....

My favorite idea so far -- for Malt Whitman, a malt ice cream with chocolate alphabet letters and two caramel and fudge swirls -- came from Arnold Carbone, Ben & Jerry's flavor guy.

I, as always, have been having a very ice-cream, fro-yo and custardy summer so this idea hits the sweet spot. Any concepts out there for fun literary flavors? Pemberley pecan?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wherein I Write About Books, Professionally

A few of my literary pieces on the world wide web--sorry for the redundancy for those who are my twitter or g-reader buddies. One is a piece on Richard Russo's new Cape Cod novel (straight review forthcoming here) and another a review of Shanghai Girls.

The Cape's Tragic Characters
If the California coast is where characters reinvent themselves, the New England shore is where things fall apart. Richard Russo extends the tradition with That Old Cape Magic. The central question of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo's new book.
from The Daily Beast - Blogs and Stories

Sisters of fate - InTheFray Magazinefrom

I should also note here that I finished Jamaica Inn and will be reviewing it in due course, for those who are also planning on reading it.

Anything else worth reading on the interwebs? Any self-promotion you want to indulge in is most welcome below.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Judith Thurman Takes on Laura Ingalls Wilder

Judith Thurman, the New Yorker essayist who writes wonderful pieces about literary grand dames, has a new meaty essay on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her wild but brilliant daughter. For those who are interested in the famed pioneer family, you'll know that the extent of Rose's hand in Laura's books is always subject to debate. A taste.

Rose had proved that she could romanticize whatever material she was given. She did some minor tinkering with “Pioneer Girl,” but, once it was decided to fictionalize the memoir as a children’s story—the idea had come from an editor who rejected the memoir—she took a more aggressive role. It varied in intensity from book to book, but she dutifully typed up the manuscript pages, and, in the process, reshaped and heightened the dramatic structure. She also rewrote the prose so drastically that Laura sometimes felt usurped. “A good bit of the detail that I add to your copy is for pure sensory effect,” Rose explained in a letter.
Definitely worth a read.

"Mr Darcy, Vampyre", Excerpt from Mags

Over at Austenblog.

Let the mingling of the fandoms commence!

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