RIP Christopher Tolkien

It took self all of December to read one book, The Annotated Hobbit.

That book was the only copy in the San Mateo Public Library system, a label on the cover said: DO NOT RETURN IN THE BOOK DROP.

If only the library knew what far-flung places she had taken this copy to!

A few days ago, on 15 January, she heard that Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien’s youngest, who was “a devoted curator of his father’s work,” had passed away. Amazingly, none of the nightly news remarked on it. Philistines!

Here’s a piece in The Guardian about Christopher Tolkien’s legacy.

Stay tuned.

Five Best Heroes Self Encountered in 2019 (All Fictional)

Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

Frank Guidry, November Road

Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey

Niall Delaney, The Parasites

Sunny, Record of a Spaceborn Few

Quite a range of heroes, from a thriller, a romantic comedy, a du Maurier (who is in a class all her own), a fantasy, and a work of science fiction. Three of the five books that gave self her favorite heroes of 2019 were written by women.

Though self ended 2019 far below her Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, she is setting an even higher goal for 2020. Would you believe it if self told you that she used to be able to read 60 books a year?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Five Best Heroines Self Encountered in 2019: One Real, Four Fictional (Stay Tuned for Part 2: Heroes)

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting, My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (memoir)

Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (novel)

Cora Seaborne, The Essex Serpent (novel)

Nora Gerraoui, The Other Americans (novel)

Rita Sunday, Once Upon a River (novel)

All of self’s favorite heroines were in books written by women. Coincidence?

About the Little Women Movie

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  • The casting was so on point! Though self was initially skeptical, she eventually fell in love with Timothée Chalamet as perpetually lost rich boy Laurie. A scene towards the end, with the youngest sister, Amy, was one of the best in the movie.
  • Amy was always her favorite sister. Why? Who knows. Was it the fact that she always felt left out, that she had artistic ambitions, that no one ever seemed to take her seriously? The actress who plays her has a doll-like appearance BUT (and this is a good thing) a surprisingly deep voice. Also, she has a sharp practicality. Kudos to the screenplay for highlighting this aspect of her character.
  • Loved Laura Dern as Marmee, who has to utter the film’s treacliest lines, but who always brings a dash of spice to her delivery. Even when she says, Girls, we are offering up our Christmas breakfast to a needy family who has nothing, self never thought of saying, You cannot be serious! Dern just brings it.
  • Also loved the merging of timelines — Self has read the book many, many times (at least 10 times) so she was waiting for particular scenes. All the scenes she loved most were in the movie. And she did not think this merging of timelines made the film in the least bit choppy. In fact, everything seemed to work better this way.

Self’s only quibble was that Beth the consumptive did not look consumptive, her face was too round.

But the cinematography, the framing of shots, the way the camera would linger on the actors’ faces and then pull back, all the wide angle shots of houses and fields — lovely.

Details of absolutely no importance: Saoirse Ronan has the longest, slenderest fingers self has ever seen. Timothée Chalamet has the longest eyelashes. The actor who plays John Brooke is gorgeous. Emma Watson looked a little mouse-y (perhaps it was the hair color?). A short clip where Laurie does an exuberant dance (while out on a porch with Jo) looked very 2000-modern and was the only jarring thing in the entire movie.

Self never felt the slightest temptation to nod off (which is happening to her more often, even while she is watching the best movies)

Overall: an enthusiastic 5 stars!

Stay tuned.

Advice for Dealing with Dragons

“Every worm has his weak spot,” as my father used to say, though I am sure it was not from personal experience.

— Bilbo Baggins, The Annotated Hobbit, Ch. XII: Inside Information

The Annotated Hobbit, Ch. III

O! What are you doing,
And where are you going?
Your ponies need shoeing!
The river is flowing!
O! tra-la-la-lally
here down in the valley!

O! Where are you going
With beards all a-wagging?
No knowing, no knowing
What brings Mister Baggins,
And Balin and Dwalin
down into the valley
in June
ha! ha!

The Mars Room pp. 60 – 61

From that day forward, on every occasion that I was forced to spend in court, the prosecutors were consistently the most competent-looking people in the courtroom. They were handsome and slick and tidy and organized, with tailored clothes and expensive leather briefcases. The public defenders, meanwhile, were recognizable on account of their bad posture, their ill-fitting suits and scuffed shoes. The women wore their hair in short, ugly, practical cuts. The men had various styles of non-styles of long hair, and every one of them was guilty of exceeding width limits on their ties.

Tuesday Photo Challenge: FANTASY

Fascinating Tuesday Photo Challenge!

Here are self’s three takes on the theme of FANTASY:

Picture # 1: Waiting for the start of Macbeth in Cal Shakes’ last production of the 2019 season. “When Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane …” What’s not to love about the Weird Sisters? About the preening ambiton of Lady Macbeth? Self adores Shakespeare.

Picture # 2: Waterstones Oxford celebrates Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth (Vol. 2 of the Book of Dust, which takes Lyra Bellacqua of His Dark Materials and turns her into Lyra Silverstone — self picking up her copy today. So excited!

Picture # 3: London’s Knightsbridge, near Fortnum & Mason. Ready for Christmas, in mid-November. Window-shopping is de rigueur.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Swan Song, Maria: THE PARASITES, p. 320

Self is struggling to FINISH THIS BOOK before she gives away too many spoilers and ruins it for everybody.

The passage below is spoiler-ific (but not an out-and-out spoiler)

Maria: Lucien, if I told you I was on the verge of suicide, that I was contemplating throwing myself under a tram, that the whole world had turned sour upon me, and the people that I love don’t love me anymore — what would you suggest as a panacea?

Lucien: How about a facial, madame?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Celia in THE PARASITES

Spoiler — because p. 309:

Celia piled more logs on to the fire, and threw the letter from the publisher into the blaze.

Self’s heart gave a lurch, but who is she to judge?

Stay tuned.

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