Is it just me or has Trump suddenly taken a liking to hiking in the woods at Camp David. Now talking about an Arab confab there to thwart terrorism. This the guy who prefers gold faucets and Toto toilets. 18 holes of pristine greens rather than a ratty old tee on a pine cone path. So. Why? Maybe because he watches House of Cards. Of course he does. President Frank Underwood endured a Bohemian Grove-esque weekend ‘men’s trip’ to unearth secrets and lies from the deep forest state around a camp fire to get a leg up.
Hmmm. Wonder when Don will buy a flannel shirt to match his squirrely hair.
TV: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back. Tituss Burgess dominates. Maybe too much this season. House of Cards. Needs two views. After second watch, some of the plot and character deficits are filled in better. But. Still. Uneven writing this year. Frank & Claire remain compelling. Speaking of Kevin Spacey. Fun host of the otherwise lackluster Tony’s.
Book Treks. 2011 – 2017. ** Favorites. ! Liked A Lot. # Worth the Read.
This summer try The Honeymoon about George Eliot, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, The Woman on the Stairs, A Gentleman in Moscow, Swans of Fifth Avenue, Paley’s & Capote.
The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge. I’m not sure. It kept me rapt. Author clearly had lots of things to work through. Personally. Maybe. Literarily many unfinished stories found their way into this dense work. Sprawling disjointed tales of several complex people in different times and places. Spaces. Told from a woman’s point of view, Marina the shrink, working out her own issues. The author gave her an authentic voice. It begins as her husband Charlie disappears into Agawam Lake in the Berkshires. H.S. Lovecraftian fandom less clear. More context necessary for those not acquainted with this cult of science-fiction-horror genre. Nonetheless. Worth the meandering page-turning journey. Lots to think about. La Farge’s New Yorker view.
Speaking of mind-bending. Twin Peaks so far is a self-indulgent David Lynchian acid trip with no redeeming plot value. Vomitaceous. Literally.
Our NYC Book Group’s latest pick. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. Count Rostov wears a gentlemanly attitude despite his confined 30-year sojourn at the Metropole Hotel in Moscow from 1930’s to 1950’s. Under house arrest after the Revolution, this aristocrat relishes the finer things found in his new surroundings from literature to furniture to food. It’s a beautiful story of love and loyalty that takes place within the walls of this old-world hotel yet spreads its view into the history and streets of Russia throughout the decades from the Revolution to the Khrushchev years. Guests of the hotel bring worldly culture in from the cold. And the funny narrator welcomes us into the fray. A great read.
Twin Peaks returns. As Laura Palmer predicted- 25 years later. Reviews of this Showtime reboot focus on plot. Not. This is David Lynch. It’s an experiential acid trip. Don’t look for coherent characters or storylines here. Some of the original cast is marginally recognizable decades hence. Madchen Amick still beautiful. Kyle looks like Agent Cooper, if a darker evil twin. Grace Zabriskie and Ray Wise remain familiar and dysfunctional. Hope we get more Fargo diner scenes with cherry pie and fewer arms on trees in the ‘dark lodge’ if you know what I mean.
For my money. The weekend winner was HBO‘s The Wizard of Lies. DeNiro as Bernie Madoff is perfection. Chilling and plausibly written.
Women. Murder. And such. The Feud had promise. Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford. Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. But. Acting so bad. Not campy bad. Just bad. Couldn’t get through the first episode. Big Little Lies. Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Ditto. Derived from a typically insipid Liane Moriarty book. Girls. Lena Dunham’s best season yet.
Little Deaths, a murder mystery novel by Emma Flint. A Brit who has been obsessed with crime stories since she was a girl. An okay read with with a bit of a feminist agenda. Baileys Prize Longlist. Used to be Orange Prize. Both sponsors have since ditched. Why a segregated genre for women authors? Lots of women winners of Man Booker. Good writing is good.
The Woman on the Stairs, Bernhard Schlink. Beautiful gem of a read. Sweet reckoning. Irene, the young woman on the stairs in a painting brings three men together to confront old age and their disparate pasts in Germany. Each evaluates his life as Irene reunites them on her isolated island in Australia as she faces death. All of them loved her in different ways. Possessive, obsessive, unconditional. It’s the third that is an intimate poignant connection. A story of loneliness, regret, then peace. Subtle mysteries, but not a thriller by any means. It’s a translation from the German, yet well done.
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. The story of Cora. A young slave who runs away from her Georgia plantation. The plot follows her harrowing life as she is pursued by an obsessed Javert-esque slave catcher. Her travels take her on a real underground railroad in dark boxcars to different cities as she tries to make it to freedom. Violent and gory scenes. As was realistic. Yet. An allegorical journey. Being black in America is fraught with peril. From Cora to Trayvon. Kindnesses and horrors along the way. Stations of the Cross? To be made into a movie by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins.