- Title: Anthony Trollope
- Author: James Pope-Hennessy
- Year Published: 1971/This Edition: 2001 (Phoenix Press)
- Year Purchased: 2003/2004
- Source: Unknown
- About: The creator of fictional Barsetshire, and its memorable inhabitants, receives an excellent biographical treatment by Pope-Hennessy. To read a Trollope novel-especially one from this famed series-is to step into one of the greatest of all fictional worlds. It’s a beautifully self-contained experience. As part of the careful unfolding of the novelist’s life, we are introduced to his formidable mother, Fanny; a professional writer with a deep social conscience, she has been sadly neglected by most modern scholars. Her story offers an interesting counterpoint to that of her famous son.
- Motivation: I am a Trollope fan. I love dead writers. Biographies are an obsession.
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page 102: “To sum up: we know extremely little about the pretty Yorkshire girl whom Anthony Trollope met at Kingstown near Dublin in the summertime of 1842, to whom he was engaged for the best part of three years, and whom he finally married.”
- Happiness Scale: 9
- Title: Longfellow’s Poems
- Year Published: 1900/This Edition: 1901 (A.L. Burt Company, Publishers)
- Year Purchased: Unknown
- Source: My Step-grandmother
- About: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the great American poet of the 19th century, is remembered for Evangeline, Paul Revere’s Ride, and The Song of Hiawatha.
- Motivation: This is another book that I ended up with after my Step-grandmother’s death nearly 20 years ago; it was given to her by her mother, who had been a school teacher during The Great War. This beautifully preserved volume was, I thought then, something of a reward for having been frightened by my stepfather’s severe (yet kindly enough) Grandmother Doris. During the few years that I knew her, when she was in her nineties, she was every inch the prim, dour school marm. Each encounter with her was like an inspection, where I was assessed head to foot then grilled about my school work. In her presence, I instinctively knew not to speak until spoken to; fortunately, simply being in the same room with her cowed me (and my natural chattiness) to the point of panicky muteness.
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page vii: “The reader observes also the absence of the wit and humor which is almost universal in poets. While Longfellow was always cheerful, he was never droll.”
- Happiness Scale: 7 1/2
Kurt Vonnegut interview from 1991.
“It’s the only art that requires skill on the part of the audience.”
Call me conflicted. Go ahead, do it! I am openly ambiguous about F. Scott Fitzgerald as a writer, yet I have never been able to completely escape The Great Gatsby’s allure. Or that of Tender is the Night. Or This Side of Paradise. Or many of his short stories (I’m looking straight at you, The Diamond as Big as the Ritz). There is so much to admire, and so much to question. However, I am going to leave that for another day (as I am working on a new Fitzgerald essay). The Great Gatsby, for all of Hollywood’s money and resources, has never been satisfactorily adapted to film. The Alan Ladd/Betty Field version (directed by Elliot Nugent, 1949) and the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow iteration (directed by Jack Clayton, 1974) are both so-so. Although I write extensively on silent cinema, I have never seen the lost (?)1926 Herbert Brenon directed film starring my hometown movie star (and early Academy Award winner) Warner Baxter, with Lois Wilson as Daisy. Although a good actor, he seems entirely miscast. So much so, that I am really intrigued. Until then, we have this:
Make of it what you will. I’m not sold, but I will probably see it anyway. Unlike HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn, which looks so bad that my soul hurts.
- Title: American History
- Year Published: 1911/This Edition: 1933 (The Athenaeum Press)
- Year Purchased: 1930s
- Source: My Step-grandmother.
- About: This book belonged to my Step-grandmother. She started high school the year this edition hit classrooms. It was, as the excerpt below testifies, a very modern take on the subject. What was new then is, nearly 80 years later, a piece of history itself. It is a window into how education was approached during the early part of the 20th century.
- Motivation: I just love old books (and history!). The books I inherited from my Step-father’s mother (and grandmother) are still in excellent condition; I treasure them deeply.
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page iii: “The present volume represents the newer tendency in historical writing. Its aim is not to tell over once more the old story in the old way, but to give the emphasis to those factors in our national development which appeal to us as most vital from the standpoint of today. However various may be the advantages of historical study, one of them, and perhaps the most unmistakable, is to explain prevailing conditions and institutions by showing how they have come about.”
- Happiness Scale: 8
- Title: Silent Players A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses
- Author: Anthony Slide
- Year Published: 2002 (The University Press of Kentucky)
- Year Purchased: 2010
- Source: Half Price Books
- About: Most of the stars profiled in this book were forgotten within a few years of the end of the silent era; the rest-the lucky few- are mere by-words for Old Hollywood, names disconnected from faces. Leftovers from our great-Grandparents’ childhoods. Anthony Slide, over the course of a couple of decades, had the pleasure or the privilege to have met the majority of entertainers featured in this volume. Thus, Silent Players is not dry biography or weak conjecture, nor is it pure scholarship (although it has a foundation of extensive research); it is alive with personal experiences and revealing reminiscences. His passion for his subjects shines through his clear, yet keen writing. A must-have for anyone interested in silent cinema and those who graced it with their magic.
- Motivation: Many of my favourite film performers appeared in silent movies. I write on the subject. A lot. In fact, silent movies are one of my biggest passions!
- Times Read: 1
- Random Excerpt/Page 127: “The number of Hollywood extras is probably in the hundreds of thousands. As early as November 1934, Photoplay reported some 17, 541 individuals registered as extras with Central Casting. Among the number of small part and bit players available at that time were former stars, including Monte Blue, Betty Blythe, Mae Marsh, and Dorothy Phillips, and silent directors, including Francis Ford, Frank Reicher and George Melford. One-time stars might become extras, but the only extra to ever be accorded the celebrity and fame of stardom is Bess Flowers.”
- Happiness Scale: 10+++
My mom lives in a converted 1930s hotel, in a charming corner of downtown.
This courtyard fountain is a neat little touch. If I lived there, I would probably photograph it every day.
- Henrik Ibsen died on 5/23/1906. “Do not use that foreign word “ideals.” We have that excellent native word “lies.”"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on 5/25/1803. “A great man is always willing to be little.”
- Madame de La Fayette died on 5/25/1693. “Never refuse any advance of friendship, for if nine out of ten bring you nothing, one alone may repay you.”
- Maxwell Bodenheim was born on 5/26/1892. “Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.”
- Dashiell Hammett was born on 5/27/1894. “I deserve all the love you can spare me. And I want a lot more than I deserve.”
- Rachel Carson was born on 5/27/1907. “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.”