Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday Sundries, 93

1. AOTW--Oh, there was competition this week for this coveted award (two were in traffic), but one that annoyed me the most was this: Last night (Saturday), we went to the Chagrin Cinemas to see The Lady in the Van (see below). As we arrived, I saw behind us a woman with three or four kids. As I entered the door, I paused a moment to hold it for them. Got a mumbled thanks. Then--as Joyce and I headed through the posts-and-strips set up to keep the line orderly, she cut right straight to the ticket-seller to get ahead of us.

2. I finished two books this week.

  • Lady Byron and Her Daughters (2015), by Julia Markus (Eng/Creative Writing at Hofstra), is about Lord Byron's former wife, Annabella Milbanke (their marriage did not last long: he had an "interest" in his half-sister, Augusta, an "interest" that produced a child). I'm going to deal with this book more explicitly in my "Frankenstein Sundae" entries (and soon!), but for now ... very well written, sympathetic. I learned much I had not known.
  • John A. Williams' fifth novel (I'm reading them in order now), Sons of Darkness, Sons of Light (1969) is a powerful and prescient story about the racial and political divides in America in the late 1960s (all healed now, right?). It begins--get ready--with a white cop gunning down an unarmed black teen. And then the black establishment decides enough is enough. They adopt a new (tacit) policy of one-on-one retaliation. And so--after a bit--the guilty cop himself is gunned down by a hit man hired via the mob. And then ... as Yeats said ... things fall apart. Williams follows three principal characters: a black intellectual who's seen enough and arranges the hit, the Israeli hit-man, a semi-retired mob boss who is fascinated by Eugene Browning (the intellectual) and initiates a friendship with him (Browning does not know who he is--but suspects something awry). I was very affected by this book--and not just because of its contemporary (and deep) relevance--but by the quality of the writing. Williams, as I've written here before, died last summer--the author of numerous novels and works of nonfiction--and I'd never heard of him. That is changing. Going to read them all! And, meanwhile, I worry about Civil War 2.0.

 3. On Saturday night, Joyce and I saw The Lady in the Van (based on a short memoir by Alan Bennett--which I have now just ordered!). We both loved the film. Maggie Smith plays a homeless woman in Camden Town (in northwest London), who ends up living in the eponymous van in the driveway of Alan Bennett, a rising playwright at the time--started in 1969.

A bit of a coincidence? (Or someone having a good time?) When I saw (very early in the film) the sign for Camden Town, I leaned over to Joyce and whispered, "William Godwin [Mary Shelley's father] lived there." A minute later--a realty sign: Godwin Realty. !!!  And then later in the film, the Alan Bennett character--a fantastic performance by Alex Jennings--quoted William Hazlitt (1778-1830), a friend of Godwin's.  Hmmmmm ...

Anyway, I thought it was one of the best films I'd seen in a long, long time. (Oh, and Bennett himself, who wrote the screenplay, makes a quick cameo very near the end.)

A film about writing--about being a writer (the film shows the writer as two people: the writer, the "real-life" person, so two Alan Bennetts were often simultaneously on the screen, often conversing with each other).

Link to trailer for film.

4. We're happy to see Bosch back on Amazon Prime. We've watched a little of the first episode, second season. I love the Bosch novels by Michael Connelly (have read them all!), and although the TV version is not exactly what I pictured, I still enjoy watching it. (Link to trailer.)

5. Last Words--Some words from my word-a-day providers during the week.
  • Psittacism   \SIT-uh-siz-uh m\  noun (dictionary.com)
     mechanical, repetitive, and meaningless speech.
    Psittacism comes from the Latin word for "parrot," psittacus. It gained traction in English in the late 1800s.
  • ridibund, adj. (OED)
    Inclined to laughter; happy, lively
  • Isonomy    \ahy-SON-uh-mee\   noun  (dictionary.com)
    equality of political rights.
    Isonomy derives from the Greek terms ísos meaning “equal” and nómos meaning “law.” It entered English around 1600.

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