Thursday, September 24, 2015

Opera Zinger -- Jay Hunter Morris

Posting this review from years back on Goodreads, in honor of Jay's amazing singing and Master Class today. If you missed it, you missed out, but don't worry he's coming to Dallas next year about this time for Moby Dick. In the meantime, you should read his book. Order it on Amazon or get you a kindle edition. It will make you smile whether you have been to one opera or fifty (or even none).

Diary of a Redneck Opera ZingerDiary of a Redneck Opera Zinger by Jay Hunter Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is such a fun book.  Funny and inspirational.  Glad I read it.  I suggest it for anyone who loves performance arts, or for anyone who likes Texan humor (esp. about adventures mostly outside of Texas), for anyone who has ever dreamed big, and esp. for anyone with connections of any kind to Paris, Texas, where there are an amazing number of artists.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A List of Gems

I DID NOT have time to blog this summer due to being involved as Marmee and as Music Director in PCT's production of Little Women the Musical (and yes I need to blog about that).  But I DID read!  Of course!  So here are a few gems I experienced and discovered this summer, old, new, classics and not, the spice of life:

The Dream Lover: A Novel of George SandThe Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand by Elizabeth Berg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I devoured this book.  I haven't read Sand's books, but I've been intrigued by her for a long time.  I'm practically devout on Chopin, so it was interesting to read her side of the story.  Well done imaginative look into how it all could have happened, I felt like a fly on the wall.  This book is an excellent example of show / don't tell.  Glad I didn't wait too long to read it.

Even today, I see women hesitating, holding back, doing and saying what is "expected" rather than what is in their hearts, simply because they are afraid.  I'm astounded and amazed at Sand's bravery.  I'm in love with the French, yet again. They completely embraced her.  And the author clearly gets the inner turmoil of the writer/ artist.  Oh to have been in that set, and to write to that music live.

I'm not much of a Balzac fan, but Hugo is near the top of my list.  Guess I need to read Sand to see if what they say is true.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the new recording made by the infamous Games of Throne Littlefinger, Aidan Gillen.  Pure wow.  Precise, succinct, crafty.

Rush out and by your audio copy today, and spend an hour listening.  You won't be sorry.

HausfrauHausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**SPOILERISH ALERT*** (Meaning, if you haven't read many classics, these references will mean nothing, and I'm not really giving anything away if you do read classics).

Interesting.  The cover didn't prepare me, but the first line, and then the set up, made me wonder.

Anna.  Unhappily married (Bored).  Train fettish.  Loves one of her boys -- a sweet little angel -- too much.  Likes sex with players.  Runs into a player while with M-I-L.  No family. No where to go. Self Deconstructs.  And I'm thinking the whole time, is this author really gutsy enough to go for it?

Very thought provoking twist on a famous classic. Some things were different, but the important shell was there and the writing, and lit devices, were excellent.  I think the lit world is going to make a huge deal of this one, for good reason.  Lots for a book club of brilliant women to chew apart.

And I wonder, will some people read this and not know what they are reading?

Why Homer MattersWhy Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For a Homer devotee, (My name is Sydney Young.  I am addicted to Homer), this is somewhat like reality TV, only better because it isn't reality TV!  This gave me an insiders view, satisfying my curiosity and giving me even more to digest about these remarkable stories.

The RocksThe Rocks by Peter Nichols
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best new books I've read this year.    A literary tour de force of a modern day Odyssey, this story also takes on a life of its own.  And made me want to sail to Ithaca and Majorca.

It's a Homeric journey that Peter Nichols knows and delivers with adept punches.

"As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
Angry Poseidon -- don't be afraid of them . . .

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you were destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out . . . "

NOW, lest you think I don't read anything just for fun, here are a couple of books that I've enjoyed purely for fun.  Yes, I'm a proud fantasy reader, so long as it is well written and devoid of cliche.  Here is a new series that is just that:

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I honestly don't know how I came across the first book, but I picked it up and started enjoying it (I think to my surprise), so I kept with it.  Liked it enough to read the second book (especially since the divine Davina read book two).  It honestly started off a little rough for me but then the pacing, world and story from the old American new age began to leap off the page.  Fun series, what's coming next? Davina Porter read divinely, as usual.

AND, I don't just read new books and classics.  Here are a couple of books out in paperback that I had missed the first time around.  They were worth reading.

Everything I Never Told You  Interesting book.  Here is the goodreads blurb:

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation.

I'll just add the Author's video instead of a review, just for fun.  Author video

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hautingly beautiful story about a couple who finds a baby adrift in the sea.  Caught in the middle, caught in a lie, caught in life.  Everyone loses but everyone gains.  This book makes you think.  And is a story to get lost in.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thoughts on Gone With the Wind

I did not set out to listen to this once again. I just wanted to check a passage at the very beginning of the book, and so I decided to listen to that point. Probably about 150 pages in. I got sucked in to this story ONCE AGAIN.

My eyes and ears were much more attuned to the story outside of Scarlet and Rhett this time, which I have to confess is what must have been the only thing I paid attention to in times past. The sugar coated, slavery is a good institution pre war attitude almost made me put the book down. Then the post war, hateful, name calling, one sided -- south was right north was wrong -- attitude was excruciating, but by then I was too vested, and before long it got bearable again. I do remember hating the second part of the book when I was younger, and this must have been why. It's a far cry from even the new Harper Lee book and is just shocking.

As to the whole Scarlet (and Rhett, etc. etc.) thing, I think my view on her (and him, them, etc.) has not changed, but has definitely deepened. I'm perhaps more amazed that her POV was written when it was. We tend to think that that feminist revolution made women, but the fact is that it didn't, it just made a lot of women realize that there were others out there. (That is not to deny that legal changes didn't make sweeping changes for women's lives, both good and bad, but that isn't what I am talking about).

What an interesting story. Now, I confess, I'm scared to read the new Mammy version. What an indictment that must be. But I want to. Maybe I shall. 

However, if it is being told from that generation, I do think it is what the plantation owner class, esp. women, did. How else could you live with it, without sugar coating it -- no, no slave was ever beaten or mistreated in the whole county, etc. etc., our way was better, they are going to kill us all, the Clan is required, etc. etc. I guess I worry that this book will be torn down from the libraries, and I hope it won't be. We need books like this to show us where we truly were so that we can never ever go there again, and so that we can understand how the true anguish caused by the sins of the past do still reverberate.

Books don't tend to be written one sided any more, if anything they are politically correct and show both sides so you can see that the truth is somewhere out there and dependent upon your vantage point. But if we are too politically correct, especially in times past, then we are not being honest. How do we tell these stories? How do we keep these old stories from being ripped away, just because they make us hate what we are hearing and experiencing when we read them? I don't know.