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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading & Movie Monday

July 12, 2010

This weekly meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I didn’t post last Monday, so I have a bit of catching up to do.

Books Reviewed Since Last Time:

Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It! by Lorene M. Burkhart (Nonfiction: Self Advocacy)
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork (YA Novel)
Trouble by Jesse Kellerman (Psychological Thriller)
Num8ers by Rachel Ward (YA Paranormal Thriller)
Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace (YA Historical Fiction)
Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos (YA Historical Fiction/Coming of Age)
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees (Historical Fiction Aimed at Literature Lovers)

New Movies I’ve Watched:

The Visitor Regular readers know that I am a sucker for stories that take me outside my own culture, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Visitor. Walter (Richard Jenkins) is an aging widower, an economics professor at a Connecticut university who’s been drifting on tenure, without doing any real work, for years. Like Eliot’s Prufrock, he measures out his life in coffee spoons. His one real passion is music. When Walter finds an immigrant couple living in his New York City apartment, while attending an academic conference, his life changes in unexpected ways.

I thought this was a compelling story animated by excellent acting. I did agree withΒ  Sarah that Walter’s rant, in the waiting room of a detention center, about the poor treatment of immigrants was heavy-handed; she wrote: “the movie is yelling at us as well as the characters, and what should have been dealt with a careful hand by the director is instead dealt by jack hammer.” It was one of those moments when you feel the scrim has been ripped away, revealing the writer scribbling away in the background — this distracts us from the story. On the other hand, it highlights Walter’s growth from a timid guy, who seems indifferent to his own life, to a strong and passionate man.

Walter’s journey, for me, was one of the most interesting parts of the story; Richard Jenkins has the ability to capture subtle shifts in emotion and developed this beautifully. This is also a movie about immigration issues, the zeitgeist of post-9/11 America, and the ability of music to bring people together.

My partner in crime in movie viewing chose this mind-bender, and even though I’m suspicious of movies with sequences that look like bad acid trips, I really enjoyed it. I have always been fascinated with memories, the ways our memories deceive us, and the price we pay if we cut ourselves off from the anguish of the past. I won’t try to describe the plot; I’d rather let you discover it for yourself. After all, figuring out what’s going on is half the fun. I loved Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as Joel and Clementine, though I am not usually a Carrey fan.

What I’m Reading Now:

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters — This has been recommended by various bloggers, including Trisha at Eclectic/Eccentric. This is my first book by this author.

Fingersmith tells the story of Sue Trinder, a young woman orphaned at birth who grows up among the thieves and con artists of London. When a conman named Gentleman offers her a money-making opportunity, she grabs it. Maud is the unfortunate patsy in Gentlemen and Sue’s little con, but Maud has secrets of her own. Sue and Maud’s schemes and plans are no match for the path their lives were set upon before they took their first breath.

Reading with Trisha (the six-year-old in residence):

This is one of the one of my most beloved books from childhood. I read the entire series when I was about 7, gazing with fascination at the maps of the mythical land of Oz, wanting to be absorbed as deeply in the stories as I could. Needless to say I am over the moon about reading these books to Trisha. We all know the only reason I had kids was so I could share all my beloved children’s books with them. πŸ˜› The older kids have never let me read them all the books by L. Frank Baum, C.S. Lewis, Edward Eager, Carolyn Haywood, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and L.M. Montgomery. Can you believe that? These ungrateful beggars have the audacity to have developed interests of their own. πŸ˜‰

By the way, I also love the movie adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, though it’s a very different story from the book. My kids make fun of me for loving this movie so much; Sarah says when Dorothy lands in Oz, the set looks like a cross between an acid trip and a Michaels craft store. These kids just don’t get it. πŸ˜‰ Back in the day when there were no VCRs, DVDs, or cable T.V., and trips to the movie theater were an occasional, pricey luxury, it was such a thrill when The Wizard of Oz came on television each Spring. God, I sound old!

Reading with James (the preteen in residence):

James is currently interested in legends, urban folklore, and such, so I gave him several books, including this one. We decided to read it together. The vocabulary is challenging for him, and the narrative sometimes gets too wordy (dang Harvard professor! ;-)) but he seems intrigued. The Serpent and the Rainbow explores Davis’ work as an anthropologist and the science behind zombies conjured by Haitian voodoo. I read it many years ago, and I found it fascinating. I know there’s a movie adaptation, but I’ve always thought it looked lame. Has anyone seen it?

37 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2010 6:12 pm

    Sounds like you’ve been busy reading. Fingersmith sounds good and I love the book cover. I also loved The Wizard of Oz. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  2. July 12, 2010 6:18 pm

    Great list of books. Trouble sounds really good. Have a wonderful week reading and watching. My Monday:

    • July 12, 2010 6:47 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer. πŸ™‚ Trouble didn’t really work for me, but it is an intriguing premise, isn’t it?

  3. July 12, 2010 6:29 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad you liked Eternal Sunshine! It’s my all-time favourite film. It IS strange, but the strangeness serves the story well. And the things it says about memories and frailty and accepting the possible precariousness of even the things that matter the most to us just kill me. Ah, even thinking about that final “okay” makes me tear up.

    • July 12, 2010 6:45 pm

      I had no idea this was your favorite movie! πŸ™‚ I love … LOVE what you said about “memories and frailty and accepting the possible precariousness of even the things that matter the most to us.” That describes a big part of why the movie, with all its loopy weirdness, really spoke to me.

  4. July 12, 2010 6:41 pm

    Sounds like you’ve got a lot of reading to do what with your own books and with the kids. I’m trying to get my 8 month old neice into books early. She’s already got a couple of cloth books, we’ve just got her a nursery rhyme & story book and I’ve got a couple of others waiting here for when she’s a little older.

    • July 12, 2010 6:48 pm

      Your niece is so lucky that you’re sharing your passion for books with her. Cloth books are nice, since at this age, they end up going straight in the mouth anyway. πŸ˜‰

  5. July 12, 2010 7:35 pm

    I really loved The Visitor, though I agree it was heavy-handed in places.

  6. July 12, 2010 7:45 pm

    Not really me genres but they sure look good!


  7. July 12, 2010 8:19 pm

    Oh, boy, oh boy. I love “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and if you don’t entirely piece together the film, repeated viewings help (I’ve seen it around 5 times). If you like that, and you’re willing to go the hardcore intellectual route, watch “Synecdoche, New York.” Be warned: that’s a lot harder to parse through in comparison, as for instance the date is changing in nearly every shot of the film, even if it’s thematically the same scene, and it’s a lot more philosophical than anything. I think “Synecdoche” is better, but “ESotSM” is very, very good, and once you can really focus on the craftsmanship and not have to be trying to figure out the plot, you can see how big of a work it is.

    Also see “Adaptation,” which is *even better* than both “Synecdoche” and “Eternal Sunshine,” one of my absolute favorite films, by the same screenwriter as all of those. So good and so hilariously highbrow. Exactly my type of film.

    All three are must-sees, that have really enriched my filmgoing decade.

    I’m not as high on “The Visitor,” but I still like it.

    “Fingersmith” sounds good, and I hope you enjoy it.

    • July 12, 2010 8:42 pm

      O.K. Nick — you put me up to it. πŸ˜€ I just put Adaptation and Synecdoche, New York at the top of my Netflix queue. I have been curious about Adaptation for years. I have never liked Nicholas Cage, but with so many other terrific actors — John Malkovich, Meryl Streep, and Tilda Swinton — who cares? πŸ˜‰ I have had my eye on Synecdoche since I saw Roger Ebert’s review, and I really like Philip Seymour Hoffman.

      I do want to see Eternal Sunshine again, though I didn’t have much trouble working out the plot. The fact that Clementine kept changing her hair color really helped. I could see what color her hair was in various scenes, and it made the movie relatively easy to untangle. It was kind of like a trail of breadcrumbs left by the filmmaker.

      I really liked The Visitor, though from a film-making perspective it probably wasn’t as good as Eternal Sunshine. It appealed to me for different reasons, including the political/historical perspectives, the music, and the development of Walter’s character. I also thought it was just good storytelling.

      I am enjoying Fingersmith so far. There is a movie adaptation, which is also supposed to be good.

  8. July 12, 2010 9:39 pm

    I really like that you’ve reviewed others forms of media as well as books. I haven’t seen any of those movies but they sound good and I’d like to watch them. Have a great week!

  9. July 12, 2010 10:00 pm

    Quite like the sound of Out Of Shadows and I love your old copy of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. I’ve got a few old novels of my Dad’s and heaps from my own from childhood, unfortunately even though I read to and with my boys, at 18 and 16 the only thing they now love reading is the soccer scores 😦
    Will have to wait for grandkids and hope that one of them carries the passion LOL
    Have a wonderful week!

    • July 12, 2010 11:22 pm

      That’s not actually my copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the picture, though mine is similar.

      I wonder if your boys will discover a love of reading later in life? I always feel that the seeds parents sow in childhood often take many years to germinate.

  10. July 12, 2010 10:05 pm

    Asahamed to say it but I’ve never read any Baum. Are you reading an old version of the book? I like the cover you have there… reminds me of a scene in ‘Girl, Interrupted’.

    ‘Fingersmith’ is one I just couldn’t get into. Might need to try it again.

    Happy reading and thanks for stopping by!


    • July 12, 2010 11:23 pm

      That’s not actually my book cover, though ours is similar. I’ve seen Girl, Interrupted, but don’t remember anything about The Wizard of Oz. Maybe it’s just been too long since I watched it. πŸ˜‰

  11. July 12, 2010 10:08 pm

    you really should read Blindness! It’s one of the best books I HAVE EVER READ! Seriously! I really loved it.

    • July 12, 2010 11:24 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement to read Blindness — I should get it off the shelf soon. I’ve been a little intimidated by it. Have you seen the movie adaptation? Is it good too?

  12. July 12, 2010 11:06 pm

    I’ve never read The Wizard of Oz, although I’ve seen the movie dozens of times! I think I do have a copy somewhere – have to find it and add it to my stack of books for this summer.

    Hope you enjoy all your reading this week!

    • July 12, 2010 11:25 pm

      The movie is great, but the book is very different — it’s much more interesting, in my opinion.

  13. July 13, 2010 12:23 am

    Wow, what a great list! I loved Num8ers (will check out your review next). And what great movies – we loved both The Visitor and Eternal Sunshine (saw that one many years ago). You’d probably like one of the ones we watched this weekend – King of California. I wrote a brief review at another blog of mine: The blog is about living with chronic illness, so most of it is probably not of interest to you, but every Monday, I post movie reviews on Movie Monday!

    We love sharing books with our boys, even though they’re now 12 and 15! I’ve never read the L. Frank Baum books myself – I feel like I missed out!


  14. July 13, 2010 2:40 am

    Yay for Fingersmith! I get so excited when people decide to pick this one up! Be sure to watch the movie after – even the hubby liked it.

  15. July 13, 2010 2:42 am

    Thanks for the movie suggestion, i will definitely get the DVD of this one! Can u believe I have not read Wizard of Oz 😦 I need to ! i am curious!

    Have a good week ahead πŸ™‚

  16. July 13, 2010 3:23 am

    The Serpent and the Rainbow I have always wanted to read I seen the movie and yes it was good but it seemed like it lacked some details. The Visitor I just know I”m going to need a box of tissue for so it’s in my pile to watch. I hope you enjoy your week…

  17. July 13, 2010 3:33 am

    Thanks for visiting my blog Teaser Tuesday. πŸ™‚

    Nice books. Haven’t read them. I’ll have to check them out.

  18. July 13, 2010 3:58 am

    I have heard good things about Fingersmith – hope you enjoy it too πŸ™‚ You had some good read this past couple of week s- I will have to nose around your reviews πŸ™‚

  19. July 13, 2010 3:59 am

    I just realised I didn’t have your new link in google, sigh

    Thanks for commenting on my TKAM post.

    I was excited to read Numbers and took it off my wishlist after numerous reviews like yours.

  20. July 13, 2010 4:28 am


    For some good reading, check out

    You might also be interested in following my blog,

  21. July 13, 2010 9:18 am

    Fingersmith sounds really good. It has been on my to be read list for ages, I think I will have to go out and get now! Enternal Sunshine was a brilliant film. Have a great reading week and thank you for your lovely comment πŸ™‚
    Hugs xx

  22. July 13, 2010 1:49 pm

    Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog. πŸ™‚

    I like the cover for Fingersmith and the story reminds me of Oliver Twist! I see that you’ve reviewed some YA historical fiction…will check them out.

    Btw, your blog looks really nice. πŸ™‚

  23. July 15, 2010 11:28 am

    LOVED The Visitor! Such a good one!

  24. July 16, 2010 2:14 am

    I really liked The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott! And Eternal Sunshine is one of my favorite movies πŸ™‚

  25. January 5, 2012 7:15 am

    Hell be so distraught his party buddy is gone, hell regress to Ransom-ian levels. We are so fucked.

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