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.

Quote of the Day: Peaky Blinders S4:E4

  • “This pub’s come to our attention for its lack of ice.”

 

The Famous (or Infamous) Daphne du Maurier Jump Cut

If Daphne du Maurier were alive today, she would be an indie filmmaker. Her stories, her eye, her ear — perfect for cinema.

As is this novel self has been reading for almost a month: The Parasites.

She generally dislikes du Maurier endings, but loves her books for the absolute authority of her voice, and for her painterly eye.

If she were to cast the film adaptation, hmmm. Who would be Niall? Someone dark-haired, tall and slender.

Who would she cast as Maria? Someone blonde, tall, and slender, and also pretty.

Who would she cast as Celia? Someone not-blonde, not-tall, slightly overweight, and not-pretty,

These three siblings have self shaking her head; she sees a little of herself in all of them.

The first jump cut in The Parasites was after Lord Charles walks in on Maria disrobed in front of her (step)brother Niall. Suddenly, here we are a year later, and Maria has an infant named Caroline.

The next jump cut has just happened: Last we saw them, the sibs were in their mid-20s. Now they’re in their mid-30s. But self is so happy to see them all alive and together, no matter their age.

Niall is reminiscing about Freada (is she still around? Probably not, she was quite a bit older):

  • This was one of the many things he had learnt from Freada. ‘Carry what you can upon your back,’ she used to say. ‘It all saves time and temper. Have no real possessions. Stake no claim. This is our home, for three, for two nights only. This studio, this lodging-house, this unfamiliar room in a hotel’ . . .  Once they went a bust and took a suite in a palatial kind of palace in Auvergne . . . She got up at eight in the morning and went off to drink the waters or have the waters poured upon her, Niall never really knew which; but he used to lie in bed until she returned in the middle of the day, and he read every one of the works of Maupassant, the book in one hand and a bar of chocolate in the other.

The way Niall’s getting all nostalgic makes self worry that Freada is dead.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Is Daphne Describing Self?

The Parasites, Ch. 16 Opening:

When people play the game ‘Name three or four persons whom you would choose to have with you on a desert island,’ they never choose the Delaneys. The don’t even choose us one by one as individuals. We have earned, not always fairly we consider, the reputation of being difficult guests. We hate staying in other people’s houses. We detest the effort of plunging into a new routine. Houses that are not ours, or where we have staked no claim, are like doctors’ houses, like dentists’ waiting-rooms, like the waiting-rooms at stations; we do not belong.

We are unlucky too. We catch the wrong trains and arrive late for dinner. Soufflés are ruined. Or we hire cars then have to ask if the driver can be put up in the village. All this causes a commotion. We stay up much too late at night, at least Niall does, especially if there is brandy, and in the morning we lie in bed until past twelve. The maids — if there are maids, and in the old days there used to be — never can get into our rooms.

Self has lived in this book for weeks. Weeks. But leave she must, for that is life.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Niall in THE PARASITES, p. 164

The song hit the ceiling, and echoed from the walls; it was fun to do, it was play. But he did not want to write it down. He did not want to have the sweat and toil of writing it down. Why not pay someone else to do that part? And, anyway, once he had thought of a song, and played it, and sung it to himself and Freada about fifty times, it was out of his system, he was bored with it, sickened of it, he did not even want to hear it any more. As far as he was concerned, the song was finished. It was like taking a pill, and the pill having worked, he wanted to pull the plug on it. Finish. Now what next? Anything? No. Just lean over the balcony under the sun. And think about the foie de veau there was going to be for lunch.

Niall, 18, a precociously gifted songwriter, has just run off to Paris with Freada a much older woman, a friend of his parents. He is secretly in love with his stepsister, but that’s apparently more of a taboo than running off to Paris with a friend of his parents, so that other love goes unrequited.

Self loves how taboo-breaking this book is. Not to mention, the writing is drop-dead gorgeous.

When Niall and Freada take the evening air along the Parisian boulevards, no one gives this May-December pairing a second glance, it seems the most natural thing in the world:

The sky turned an amber colour, like Freada’s scent, and an amber glow came upon the city, spreading from the west, touching the roofs and the bridges and the spires.

Gorgeous scene-setting. Self hasn’t read a novel like this in a long, long time. Maybe not since Once Upon a River.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

 

“One ought to go right on, never minding.” — Maria, THE PARASITES

p. 108, The Parasites, by Daphne du Maurier

Pappy to his daughter Maria, an aspiring actress:

  • “Some people do . . . but they’re the duds. They are the ones that win prizes in school, and you never hear of them again. Go on. Be nervous. Be ill. Be sick down the lavatory pan. It’s part of your life from now on. You’ve got to go through with it. Nothing’s worth while if you don’t fight for it first, if you haven’t a pain in your belly beforehand . . . Now go right on and take your bath. And don’t forget you’re a Delaney. Give ’em hell.”

Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg, on MACBETH

Never, ever miss a Cal Shakes Grove Talk. Self has been to a few of these, all delivered by Philippa Kelly, and each is enthralling. Kelly is a superb speaker. She ties in history, puts the play in context, and makes the playgoing experience so rich!

Self learned yesterday that Macbeth was written in 1606.

1606

She was reminded that a boy played Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s time. Imagine lines like “Milk my breast” from the lips of a boy! Plus the high voice! Self thought about this while observing Liz Sklar’s performance as Lady Macbeth — that is a powerful role that demands an actor equally powerful. A boy just doesn’t cut it.

This evening, self is reading Kelly’s essay in the program brochure. The essay’s title is Can We Forgive Ourselves?

  • Actions can be imagined; but “if it (is) done when ’tis done,” an action has consequences — and if we are thinking and feeling beings, consequences can’t be ignored.

After listening to Kelly, self saw the play as a true horror story. Macbeth and his wife see ghosts everywhere. At the start of the play, they are young and beautiful. By its end they’ve both been driven round the bend. And it is TRAGIC.

Self realizes she has never, ever seen young Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. Until yesterday. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but Liz Sklar’s Lady Macbeth is LIT!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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