Quote of the Week

Because we are human, because we are bound by gravity and the limitations of our bodies, because we live in a world where the news is often bad and the prospects disturbing, there is a need for another world somewhere, a world where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers live.

~ Roger Ebert, The Great Movies III

 

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They practiced until their feet bled yet their faces show nothing but pure joy.

 

I remember reading this and just thinking ‘yes, he gets it’.  People may question the need for frivolous films like the 1930s musical starring Fred and Ginger or screwball comedies like my favorite movie, Bringing Up Baby.  Yes, they are silly but they are necessary in a world where it is easy to doubt the existence of love and beauty.  Plus they’re just really entertaining and sometimes you just need the kind of movie that puts a smile on your face.

A few of my favorite Fred and Ginger Films:

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Review: The Thorn Birds

3.5 stars because I can’t decide if I actually enjoyed it or if I just got sucked into the engrossing story.

 

Thorn Birds

My copy may have been the first mass market paperback edition.  The cover price 40 years ago was $2.50.  How times have changed.

On the surface, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is a sweeping historical epic filled to excess with tragedy set against the extreme backdrop that is Australia. It is not, as I’d mistakenly assumed an epic romance but rather a study in human nature. Within its pages can be found themes of religion, feminism, the mother/daughter dynamic, the effects of a patriarchal society, what defines home, and even politics.
At its best moments, the novel paints a vivid portrait of Australia’s vast and varied lands from the drought-prone grasslands to the tropical rainforests, detailing life on a huge sheep station and in the cane fields. Based on McCullough’s descriptions, I wanted to escape Northern Queensland’s suffocating humidity as much as Meggie did – not that the dry expanse of on which Drogheda lay sounded all that much better. At its worse, the story is a tortuous battle, both internal and external, between the characters and God or the elements or each other or themselves.
As for those tortured characters, I didn’t like any of them with the possible exception of Justine. Meggie is bearable though often utterly idiotic (though that isn’t entirely her fault) and much too prideful. Fee is far from an ideal mother to all of her children – even her beloved Frank – but especially to Meggie. Mary Carson is, as she is described more than once, a manipulative spider and a heartless miser. She may have claimed to have loved Ralph but if she ever had been capable of love, I don’t think she was anymore. Then there are the men. The Cleary men, except maybe Stuart, are insensitive and blind to all but their own needs – only Frank seems to have eyes in his head not that it does him much good. Ralph is arrogant, self-absorbed (and selfish), ambitious, and like the other men utterly incapable of seeing beyond himself. And then there’s Luke who represents everything I would hate in a man. I could not wait until he was out of the picture. At least through Luke, we met Anne and Luddie and we have Justine.
I actually loved Justine. I loved her hard shell and sharp tongue and I loved her vulnerable core. But that love didn’t stop me from calling her an idiot a few times before it was all said and done, which goes for Rainer too. I liked him but he was a game player when it came to Justine. All of these deeply flawed characters caused more of their own problems than either God or the elements ever could. Which, of course, is what makes it a tragedy (I paid attention in my Shakespeare classes).
Then there’s the central love story for which The Thorn Birds is famous. Despite my being Catholic the priest thing never bothered me. Nowadays a priest could, if he truly wanted to, chose to leave the priesthood. Either they couldn’t in those days or (and this is more likely) Ralph was too ambitious to even consider it. Because unlike Dane, who seems truly devoted to his God and his faith, Ralph’s devotion to the church isn’t always based on a deep and profound as he claims it to be. If he ever loved anyone more than he did himself, he would’ve made the hard decision to leave. What did bother me was the age difference. Meggie was 10 and Ralph 28 when they first met and almost immediately he became obsessed with her. It may not initially have been a sexual attraction he had for her and he was able to rationalize his attentions to her for a while but he deliberately spent more time on Drogheda than necessary until she depended on him for any love she received. Only when it became uncomfortable for him did he separate himself from Meggie and the Clearys and even in doing that he did it in a way would hurt her. Then he still, in his cowardly way, strung her along and made himself her savior. Only in contrast to Luke did I ever grow to like (that might be too strong a word) Ralph. And liking the characters is key to my enjoyment of a book like this that requires much of its readers’ heart.

 

If you enjoy sweeping historical epics The Thorn Birds, I don’t think I need to tell you that you will probably enjoy Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

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Quote of the Week

Ideas aren’t magical; the only tricky part is holding on to one long enough to get it written down

Lynn Abbey

 

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Story of my life.

 

 

 

This one definitely speaks to me.  Ideas swirl around my mind, coming at me so fast that before one is complete another has formed.  The problem is that they often come when I’m in the shower or juuuuu-st nodding off to sleep.  But when I sit down in front of a blank sheet of paper?  Crickets.

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A World of Literature

Awesome map of the most iconic works of literature from each country of the world.

Source: The most iconic book set in every country around the world #infographic

Posted in World Literature

Quote of the Week

There’s this magical sense of possibility that stretches like a bridge between June and August. A sense that anything can happen.

– Aimee Friedman, Two Summers

School starts up again here this week.  Today in fact.  I don’t like summer but I do so miss the endless possibility and the perceived freedom of summer break.  I hope everyone made the most of that magical time between June and July.

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