Also Reading Jeremy Denk’s Essay “Piano Man”

It is Thanksgiving Day, 2014.

The best decision self ever made was to order a turkey and fixings from somewhere. And now she has a chance to catch up on all those back issues of The New Yorker that have been building up since last year (and the year before, and the year before).

From The New Yorker of 14 October 2013, an essay by Jeremy Denk called “Piano Man”:

I was saved the first time from financial ruin by a stroke of luck — I entered a piano competition, in London, and won third prize. Years of grad-school indulgences (liquor, Chinese takeout, kitchen appliances) had left me with a Visa bill of forty-five hundred dollars, and I was able to erase it in a flash. All that remained of my glorious prize, of all those months of practicing, was a photograph of Princess Diana handing me my award onstage at Royal Festival Hall, which I faxed to everyone I knew.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Wall Street Journal’s Holiday Books Issue (Weekend, Nov. 22 – 23, 2014)

The following list is made up of the books self felt most interested in reading after perusing the Wall Street Journal’s Holiday Books (2014) issue:

Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, by Hermione Lee (Knopf, 488 pages, $35)

Offshore, Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker-Prizewinning novel of 1979

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History, by Rhonda K. Garelick (Random House, 570 pages, $35)

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, by John Lahr (Norton, 765 pages, $39.95)

Updike, by Adam Begley (Harper, 558 pages, $29.99)

The Novel: A Biography, by Michael Schmidt (Harvard University Press, 1,172 pages, $39.95)

The Age of the Vikings, by Anders Winroth (Princeton University Press, 320 pages, $29.95)

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts (Viking, 926 pages, $45)

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Knopf, 528 pages, $60)

The Mantle of Command:  FDR at War 1941 – 1942, by Nigel Hamilton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 514 pages, $30)

George Marshall: A Biography, by Debi and Irwin Unger (Harper, 352 pages, $35)

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered, by Lynne Cheney (Viking, 564 pages, $36)

Rendezvous with Art, conversations between the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford (Thames & Hudson, 248 pages, $35)

Frans Hals, by Seymour Silve (Phaidon, 400 pages, $125)

My Favorite Things, by Maira Kalman, a catalogue of 40 items in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (Harper Design, 160 pages, $35)

The Only Way to Cross, by John Maxtone-Graham

SS United States, by John Maxtone-Graham (Norton, 245 pages, $75)

Surf Craft, by Richard Kenvin (MIT University Press, 192 pages, $29.95)

The Art of Things, an anthology of essays on good design, edited by Dominique Forest (Abbeville, 592 pages, $150)

Globes: 400 Years of Exploration, Navigation and Power, by Sylvia Sumira (University of Chicago Press, 224 pages, $45)

Me, Myself, and Us, by Brian R. Little (Public Affairs, 288 pages, $26.99)

Hope: Entertainer of the Century, by Richard Zoglin (Simon & Schuster, 565 pages, $30)

The Beatles Lyrics, edited by Hunter Davies (Little, Brown, 376 pages, $35)

The John Lennon Letters, edited by Hunter Davies

Mephisto, by Klaus Mann

 

 

Buzzfeed Interview w/ Peter Craig, Main Scriptwriter for MOCKINGJAY, PART 1

Dear blog readers know how much self liked Mockingjay, Part 1.

It was a very, very good movie. And a large part of the credit for that has to go to the screenplay writer, Peter Craig.

Self is so tired of almost every Read the rest of this entry »

Moving On

Self has just begun the next book on her reading list:  Hans Fallada’s novel, Every Man Dies Alone.

She’s quite pleased with her progress. Though it took her 9 days to get through Donna Leon’s Death and Judgment, she did finish it. Which can’t be said of any book she’s tackled since — oh, late March.

(After this, for those readers who’d like to follow along:  a William Maxwell novella, So Long, See You Tomorrow; another Donna Leon mystery, About Face; and a mystery by a Swedish writer self has never read before: Hakan Nesser. His book is Woman with a Birthmark)

Self has high hopes for finishing Every Man Dies Alone, for she’s never been disappointed by any of the German writers she’s read.  For instance, she loves Bernhard Schlink. It’s been a while since she’s read Hannah Arendt, but she remembers liking what she read. And Kafka, she’s always adored Kafka (Self isn’t completely sure whether he’s German or Czech)

Hans Fallada was a Nazi resister who remained in Germany; he nursed himself through World War II by becoming an alcoholic, and ended up having a nervous breakdown (Self would, too. If she were a Nazi resister who chose to remain in Germany for the duration of the war, that is). Whether he was extremely brave, or extremely bull-headed, or extremely crazy, or maybe all three, the point is: he continued to write. His output never flagged. His Every Man Dies Alone begins with a female protagonist, Eva Kluge, who works as a postal carrier. On this particular round, she has to deliver Nazi Party circulars:

. . .  she has to remember to call out “Heil, Hitler!” at the Persickes’ and watch her lip. Which she needs to do anyway, there’s not many people to whom Eva Kluge can say what she thinks. Not that she’s a political animal, she’s just an ordinary woman, but as a woman she’s of the view that you don’t bring children into the world to have them shot.

The translation is by Michael Hofmann.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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