[Book Nerd News] Tom Wolfe Dies at 87

Tom Wolfe Dies at 87:

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Dah-lings! Reel Infatuation Blogathon Coming Soon

It’s almost here! Please join us.

Silver Screenings

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Whee! The Reel Infatuation blogathon will be here in a couple of weeks!

This is a blogathon where we dish about our secret (or not-so-secret) film or book character crushes – past or present. Click HERE for the original announcement and list of participants.

If you, like us, have trouble picking one fictional character, you can choose two or three!

We’d love to hear your choice in the comments below.

See you June 13-17!

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Love at First Site: Awesome People Reading

I’m utterly fascinated by photographs of people reading. Always have been-well, as far back as I remember. For me, life is largely about words: it’s no wonder that I love reading culture in all of its odd facets. On the flip side, I have a history of becoming temporarily addicted to a newly discovered Tumblr blog. I’ll read the entire archive in one sitting, rapturously inform my husband of this new pet favourite like the nerd-girl I am, only to forget about it for months, if not years, to come. Today, I make this pledge: the cycle stops now, with Awesome People Reading.

Go here to find out why. You can thank me later.

Lillian Gish Reads (A Romance of Happy Valley, 1919)

Lillian Gish Reads (A Romance of Happy Valley, 1919). From  Awesome People Reading.

A Year in Books/Day 206: Crazy Sexy Cool

  • Title: Crazy Sexy Cool
  • Authors: The Editors of Us Magazine
  • Year Published: 1996
  • Year Purchased: 2010
  • Source: My mom
  • About: The editors of Us Magazine seemingly created this photography volume for the sole purpose of making the definitive cultural statement of their age. That is rarely a good idea, and it falls flat here. The text by David Wild is the problem. It’s dated in a way that the 1990s era photographs aren’t. Although limited to an introduction, his writing is so self-consciously important and self-indulgent that it’s embarrassing. No amount of evoking Let Us Now Praise Famous Men or You Have Seen Their Faces (with photography and text by, respectively, Walker Evans and James Agee/Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell) will magically elevate this book to their level. There’s nothing of intellectual substance here; it’s all empty, pithy-sounding word combinations. Skip the text and go straight to the photographs. You’ll thank me. The images are genuinely captivating, and do their job of capturing the transitory nature of celebrity as it was experienced in the late 20th century. That’s enough. Too bad the editors of Us Magazine didn’t realize that.
  • Motivation: My mom knows how much I like coffee table books, movies, pop culture, and photography. She found this book at a community sale for a dollar or two.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 12: The preceding anticommercial message comes to you directly from John Keats’ “Ode to a Grecian Urn”, written way back in 1819, a romantic, carefree era long before the fall of Communism and the rise of Courtney Love. At the risk of having my poetic license revoked, I would like to think if the old Keatster were still around putting quill to Powerbook he might forget about urns entirely and instead be penning “Ode to Mark Seliger’s Portrait of Drew Barrymore.”
  • Happiness Scale: Text-2/Photographs: 8

A Year in Books/Day 188: Hollywood Royalty

HearstAbout1910

William Randolph Hearst, circa 1910. He threw all of the best parties, thanks to his sweetheart Marion Davies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Title: Hollywood Royalty
  • Author: Gregory Speck
  • Year Published: 1992 (Birch Lane Press Book/Carol Publishing Group)
  • Year Purchased: 1990s
  • Source: Library sale
  • About: San Simeon, William Randolph Hearst’s estate, was the setting of countless celebrity-gilded parties. An invitation for a weekend stay was not only a passport to bask in temporary opulence so extreme it made members of the movie colony seem like paupers in comparison, it meant that you had truly arrived on the Hollywood scene. Close your eyes. Conjure up a dinner party of seven courses, attended by some of the most fabulous classic movie stars. Your curiosity probably takes the form of many questions, with the big one being: What would they talk about? The setting of Hollywood Royalty is real, the occasion is imaginary and the conversation is composed of snippets from published interviews. Fact and fiction cross borders, on an evening removed from time, to mingle as seductively as the stars in Hearst’s dining room.
  • Motivation: I like when lines are blurred. I love classic film.
  • Times Read: 1 or 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 160: “I (Olivia de Havilland) learned a lot from Jimmy Cagney, and he was always so sweet to me. On A Midsummer Night’s Dream he was very nice to me, and I was so flattered. He would come into my little canvas dressing room, and we would just talk about everything. I couldn’t believe it, for he was already a great star, and it was my first film, way back in 1935.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10

I’m Sensing a Trend

I’m lucky enough to share a birthday with one of my favourite actors (John Gilbert), one of my favourite writers (Marcel Proust) and the possessor of one of the most brilliant (recorded) minds in history (Nikola Tesla). What else do they have in common? Hmmm, let’s see.

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I’ve found that frivolous observations are best made on serious days. I’m off to celebrate with the husband at the newest contemporary Indian restaurant/bar in town. Toodles.

A Year in Books/Day 136: Starstruck

  • Title: Starstruck
  • Author: Jib Fowles
  • Year Published: 1992 (Smithsonian Institution Press)
  • Year Purchased: 1993?
  • Source: Little Professor Book Center
  • About: Jib Folwes would like to welcome you to Star Village, a term he coined to cover the 100 celebrities who, at any given time, receive the highest concentration of interest by the public. Although early 21st century forms-such as the Internet, YouTube, and reality television-have perhaps skewed the numbers and demographics, the foundation of his theory remains strong. He dissects every aspect of stardom, starting with how modern celebrity came to be, how it is achieved, maintained, and how, for some, it dies. He uses a cross-section of actors, musicians, comedians, and athletes, including: Louis Armstrong, Clara Bow, Doris Day, Buster Keaton, Billie Jean King, John Lennon, Liberace, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Roy Rogers, Babe Ruth, Lawrence Welk and Mae West. It is a fascinating, almost sociological, look at a hierarchy we are born into, take for granted, and rarely seriously question.
  • Motivation: I’m a sucker for old Hollywood. I also love the logic, research and data behind serious sociological studies, even when the subject is pop culture.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 75: “Viewed within the context of the twentieth century’s eruption of metropolitan living and machine production, the star phenomenon can be seen to have resulted from two historical imperatives. The need of uprooted city dwellers for personality models was compelling enough, but a second force-related yet distinct-was at work.”
  • Happiness Scale: 9 1/2
    Publicity photo of musician Lawrence Welk.

    Jib Fowles will tell you why, exactly, I became famous! (Photo of Lawrence Welk courtesy of Wikipedia)