From the Publisher:
"A group of English visitors want to see the “real” India, and in Dr. Aziz they find a highly civilized companion. During a visit to the Marabar caves, one of the women accuses Dr. Aziz of sexually assaulting her, triggering a chain of events that will change the lives of people on both sides of this complex conflict. Arguably Forster's greatest novel, A Passage to India transforms the personal into the political and actor Sam Dastor brilliantly evokes the mood, setting, and accents of this Forster classic."
My copy of A Passage to India, by author E. M. Forster is a 268-paged trade-sized paperback made delightfully affordable, at $5.95, because it was a 'Borders Classic' printing.
I found Passage written in 1924, a fine book, although, unlike many of the other 'Classics' I've recently consumed, I doubt that I will remember anything from its pages.
In order to completely understand the story of Passage, I resorted to using two dictionaries, as my 75,000 word Funk & Wagnalls, often did not contain the needed word and I was forced to reach for an unabridged volume.
The real action, the crux of the book, doesn't occur until about one hundred pages and twelve chapters in, and then it flies by as fast as a bat chasing a gnat. The climax hits at page 188, but the book drags on for another eighty pages, with the writer hinting that there just might be a shocking twist at the end. There isn't.
Often I could not comprehend who was speaking, and the author, using several names for the same person, sometimes further confused my simple mind. E. M. Forster's analogies were almost always bland but maybe that is a factor of the book having been written over eighty years ago.
I found A Passage to India not up to the caliber of the other titles I have recently read that fall into that vague category of 'Literature'.
reviewed: July 11, 2007
Page 139 "He help up Aziz's pocket-case."
Page 150 " 'And remember what I have said. We look to you to kelp us through a difficult time ...' "
Page 212 "Pulling himself together he dismissed the mater from his mind."
Page 217 "Aziz was found of her too."
Begun: 06/18/2007 Finished: 07/10/2007Typeface: Goudy Old Style-by Frederick W. Goudy
Purchased: April 2007.
Where:BORDERS® B&N Net Rank: 11,467
"Set in the 1930s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel traces the rise and fall of Willie Stark, who resembles the real-life Huey 'Kingfish' Long of Louisiana. Stark begins his political career as an idealistic man of the people but soon becomes corrupted by success. Generally considered the finest novel ever written on American politics, All the King's Men is a literary classic."
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren is a 464-paged hardback originally published in 1946. Like the many-pagéd White Lotus, by John Hersey and Century Rain, by Alastair Reynolds, I experienced ambivalence when I finished it. For I'll miss Willie Stark, but not much, and I'll miss Jack Burden and Ann Stanton and many of the other characters I left behind in the pages. Even though it is by no means an upbeat tale, it did leave me with warm feelings as if I had actually lived through the book.
Loving to dig-out typos, at first I was delighted at finding so many of them, and then depressed, as I realized, the work, having been penned six decades ago, had retained all of the archaic and unfamiliar, but correct, spellings for the words. Undeterred I did find a few errors.
The jacket art on the slipcover, a 1934 painting by Thomas Hart Benton, provided many moments of this reader pondering who might be Tiny Duffy or Willie Stark or Jack Burden. Only now do I realize that the brush-work was laid down ten years prior to the book's publication.
The action is seen through the eyes of Jack Burden who becomes politician Willie Stark's right hand go-to guy for everything. Willie Stark begins campaigning using facts and figures and then realizes his audiences want emotions and stories. He also begins as a real reformer, but like many politicians (Arizona's Senator Jon Kyl for one) is soon seduced by the immense and unseen desires and forces that people in power seem always to sink into. The book has everything: death, suicide, murder, sports, blackmail, cut-throat competing political interests, youthful love, picnics and a sixty horsepower Cadillac.
All the Kings Men is championed as the one novel about politics that everyone should read and I'd have to agree. While the dirty dealing of Willie Stark is tame compared to 21st Century politics (as we have one 2009 presidential hopeful who has over forty friends, associates and acquaintances now dead, not one from natural causes) but these imagined dealings of Willie do give clear insights into how these situations occur and the cobwebs of intricate legal and illegal deals that go on unseen behind the curtain.
For a few weeks, I read it a few pages every night before it dropped to my breast and I fell asleep. Even reading that little bit and it held my interest. That is a sign of a good book. I think you too will enjoy reading All the King's Men.
reviewed: July 7, 2007
Page 163 "While the Boss lay back on the cuhions at his thirty-degree angle ..."
Page 226 "... as she walked own the aisle in St. Matthew's ..."
Page 271 "And what he made up and got everybody to mirate on as good and right was always ..."
Page 348 "... and if ( and it looked more like when than if the Boss ..."
(left off closing parenthesis)
Page 387 "... except once the scrape of a cleat on the concrete when somebody supreptitously moved his foot ..."
Page 422 "... and looked down at him, and tired to think of something to say."
Begun: 05/10/2007 Finished: 06/15/2007Purchased: September 2006
Where:americancompass.com B&N Net Rank: 10,738
"When actors play themselves, they create some of the world's finest theatre! In lines more telling than any dramatist could imagine, the raise the curtain on sometimes astonishing, but always riveting technical secrets, economic conflicts, and personal passions of their professional lives, in theatre and film . . . "
Published in 1979 Actors on Acting is like stepping back in time three decades. This 255-paged textbook-looking hardback, written specifically for the actor, was an easy and quick read for this actor. And unlike with today's computer edited books, when the last page of the last interview ends, there follows a simple single page labeled "Index", then the final blank tear-page and back cover.
It must have been a stupendous challenge for author Joanmarie Kalter to round up all these thespians and interview them. Cudos on her choice of actors also, for they cover the gambit of personalities, ages, sexes (this was back when there were only two), acting methods, experience and training. And with the exception of Sam Waterston all the actors and actresses treated Ms. Kalter as a breathing, thinking human being.
Of the males: Barnard Hughes, Sam Waterston, Laurence Luckinbill, Bruce Dern and Rip Torn, I could only not recall Mr. Luckinbill and Barnard Hughes. Mr. Hughes, who admitted to no formal acting training, literally gushed of how thankful he was to be in the business. After his 1979 photo in the book didn't ring a bell, I looked him up in the IMDb database, found a photo of the Barnard Hughes I knew, and remembered he played the town doctor in the movie "Doc Hollywood", in addition to many other parts.
The females interviewed are: Lynn Redgrave, Geraldine Page (Mrs. Rip Torn), Estelle Parsons, Imogene Coca, and Stephanie Mills. I only did not recall the youngest, at nineteen, actress Stephanie Mills, but soon read that she played Dorothy in The Wiz for four years and then, sadly, according to IMDb only appeared in B-movies, most of which I'd never even heard of. (However, since IMDb lists television and movies, she may have continued her stage career.)
Since the book was published, of the ten actors interviewed, Geraldine Page (d.1987), Imogene Coca (d.2001) and Barnard Hughes (d.2006) are no longer with us.
Each thespian interviewed has her black and white photo on the beginning page, with each interview preceded with a history of the person's life and career. Which is immensely helpful to the reader, for more than a few of the actors would not be familiar to today's 21st Century thespians. As a matter of fact, if the reader is not a Baby-Boomer, he probably won't be acquainted with many of the people mentioned by the actors, or the shows, or the venues they were involved in.
Author Joanmarie Kalter asks a slew of questions that cover the concerns of actors who want to know what it takes. Or what it took to get where most of these actors were during the time period of the book. A few times, after I read the query author Kalter posed, I thought to myself, "Gosh that took a lot of b*lls", and then I remembered it was a woman asking the question. I think the fact that the interviewer was of the female persuasion, actors of both sexes found it easier to open up to her, sometimes to the point uttering incoherent statements.
Everyone came across as pretty much actor-normal except for Laurence Luckinbill who, was incomprehensible and just plan odd. The thirty-nine year old Sam Waterston sounded pedantic and angry. And Estelle Parsons (who won an Oscar for playing Clyde Barrow's sister-in-law in Bonnie and Clyde) is, quite simply, circus freak material.
The book begins with a bang with the totally frank and funny Geraldine Page, followed by her husband Elmore "Rip" Torn Jr., and then begins a gradual downhill run into less and less interesting chapters, then ending, like an Olympic ski jump, with the incredibly upbeat interview of Barnard Hughes.
All in all Actors on Acting is an excellent book for any actor or serious aficionado of acting. Many non-actors will find it incomprehensible and boring.
Quotes Actors Will Enjoy:
Geraldine Page: "I can't understand these actors who talk about how they live a part, how they suffer. The poor things. Why don't they do something else that they like better? What a batch of complainers!"
Rip Torn: "In those days in Texas, saying you wanted to be an actor was like saying you wanted to go straight to hell!"
Lynn Redgrave: "It is boring to learn your lines; it's dull and repetitive to sit with pages and pages, and just memorize them. Dreary. But thousands of wonderful actors have done it for years, and it pays off one-hundredfold the minute you start rehearsals."
Estelle Parsons: "No. I don't think you can really teach anyone to be a creative artist. You're either born with some talent or you're not, and training does not necessarily have anything to do with making you better . . . Training to an artist, is just irrelevant."
Sam Waterston: "Sometimes their techniques work against them and sometimes they work for them: but they're God-given gifts nonetheless. The thing that everyone wants to see is an actual person going through an actual experience."
Bruce Dern: "But they're not being hired because they're not being represented. You have to have an agent who believes in you, who loves you, who will fight for you."
Barnard Hughes: "The very fact that people admired my ability to cry showed that I was not acting well: it reminded them I was acting. Anything that draws attention to the fact that you're acting isn't acting."
"Sometimes, as I'm waiting for my cue to go on stage, I wonder, my God, how did I ever get here, how was I ever lucky enough to be an actor? What a strange thing it is to be, and how few of us are blessed with the opportunity."
"Illustrated with 72 photos and 19 original movie posters, these never-before-published interviews conducted in the early 1970s prove to be 'an invaluable addition to film scholarship, [which] allows aspiring filmmakers to study the working methods and wisdom of one of our greatest artists.' -Martin Scorsese In 1971, young filmmaker Jeff Young sat down with his favorite director, the legendary Elia Kazan, to discuss making movies. Over several years and hundreds of one-on-one interview hours later, Kazan revealed to Young his methodology for dealing with the problems and issues in each of his films and his experiences working with such actors, producers, and writers as James Dean, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams, Vivien Leigh, John Steinbeck, and many others ... "
In the early 1970s author Jeff Young conducted in-depth interviews with the then high-flying director Elia Kazan. However due to contractual obligations Kazan had made with a previous biographer, Mr. Young's 358-paged hardback did not see publication until 1999. Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films is an outstanding book and packed with brutally honest yet heart-felt observations by Kazan about some of America's greatest actors and movie technicians. Sadly, around page 155, into about the fortieth page of the seventy-eight page chapter covering "On the Waterfront", most non-actor/director types will stop reading, because at that point, even for this actor, the book becomes a challenge to complete. I admit that my difficulties may have come from the fact that I had not seen any of writer-director-producer Kazan's movies.
Inside Kazan are thirty-two pages of excellent glossy black and white photos accompanied with the exact text from the book, however, since the scenes are from many decades past, I would have like to have seen the name of every actor listed in every photo.
Author Jeff Young also asks some startlingly blunt questions of Kazan and does not always agree with his subject, especially on the testimony of Kazan during the 1952 Army-McCarthy hearings. Sadly, Mr. Young fits the mold of Hollywood, as the hidden-coward-communist's of the nineteen fifties Burbank were held in higher esteem than director Kazan's patriotic exposure of them.
As a ten year old child, I will forever remember our 1960s early-release marches home from school accompanied by teachers, janitors and volunteer parents in preparation of the expected Russian supplied nuclear missiles rocketing in from the communist island of Cuba. We all feared that the next sonic-boom, that occasionally cracked the single pane glass on our parent's homes, might this time, not be caused by an F-104 Starfighter hangered at Luke Air Force Base, but from an incoming nosecone containing a hydrogen bomb re-entering Earth's atmosphere and ripping through the powder blue desert sky, puncturing a huge cotton-white cumulus cloud, leaving behind a too precise cloud-less hole and then exploding at ten thousand feet and instantly melting us children like we were wax crayons left forgotten in the Phoenix summer sun.
We read fifteen in-depth interviews with Kazan from his 1945 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to his 1972 release of The Visitors. Especially for actors, it is totally interesting to learn how Kazan (who died in 2003) worked with not only the thespians, but with everyone involved with getting a movie made. I would be totally jazzed to work with a director displaying his people savvy.
Elia Kazan worked with many now major (and many now dead) actors in their first movie roles, a few being: James Dean, Marlon Brando, Andy Griffith and James Woods (who probably today would be shouted down as a racist by author Young for reporting Muslims acting suspiciously on a pre-nine-eleven commercial airline flight he was on. Turns out these peaceful Muslims were most likely performing a dry run of the WTC attack, and may have even been some of the nineteen terrorists.)
Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films is a must-read for all actors and directors. It would also be a great read, for the older movie aficionado, and definitely worth searching out at the half-priced bookstores, since you will most likely only complete one-half of it.
reviewed: June 25, 2007
Page 106 "After Zapata pays court and gets rejected by the perspective father-in-law, he walks out and gets ambushed."
Page 114 "Fine then. Let's cover the Waterfront. (As per previous formatting, the entire line should be italicized.)
Page 205 "The Bible reading eventually turns into a big scream , out between Cal and his father." (Comma should be dash '-')
From the Publisher:
"This fascinating handbook answers the questions of anyone who has ever wondered about the many strange devices found along the roadside, from utility poles to satellite dishes. Devices are grouped according to their habitats—along highways and roads, atop buildings, near airports, and on utility towers ... "
A Field Guide to Roadside Technology is the perfect book for the nerd. Haven't all Phoenician's wondered what those circular brass metal markers glittering like golden pucks embedded into our brownie-soft summer hell-black asphalt were? (Geodetic Control Stations.) Or how to tell a bascule bridge from a cantilever one? Or what all those peculiar looking gizmos mounted above, below and around the poles at every intersection accomplish? Although Ed Sobey's biography is more exciting than his book, A Field Guide is packed full of need-to-know information on over one hundred arcane roadway and near-roadway artifacts. Each page features a slightly grainy black & white photo of the technology in question followed by text broke down into categories of: Behavior, Habitat, How it Works, and Interesting Facts. The author excels in explaining how things work in such a clear and concise way that even the dimwit Al Gore could understand. (Liberal readers feel free to insert Dan Quayle in place of Al Gore.) A Field Guide to Roadside Technology, about the size of a CD wallet and sporting non-snagging rounded corners, is an excellent resource to keep on the front seat (and not in the glove compartment) of the family car for those times when we are certain to be stuck in traffic.
"Acting in America has staggered to a dead end. Every year tens of thousands of aspiring actors pursue the Hollywood grail and chant the familiar strains of the Stanislavski "Method" in classrooms and studios across the nation. The initial liberating spirit of Stanislavski's experiments has long ago withered into rigid patterns of inhibitions and emotional introspection. According to Richard Hornby, the Method now "shackles American acting." With his iconoclastic new work, The End of Acting, Richard Hornby dismantles, tenet by tenet, the American Method as promulgated by Lee Strasberg and other pretenders to the Stanislavski dynasty. Hornby separates the myth from the Method in his exploration of Stanislavski's original initiatives and the proprietary feud over his theories which continues even today."
The End of Acting, by author Richard Hornby is more of a chronology of stage and film training and acting rather than the (new) 'Radical View' subtitled on the cover. However it is an excellent text for those of us who've been cast in sufficient productions to be able to viscerally comprehend what he is writing about. He bemoans the fact, that no longer do actors work their way up through the ranks and actually learn to act, but, because of either their looks or natural demeanor, are instantly slapped onto the big screen or electronic flat-screen. He goes through the steps an actor should use to become his character, imbue it with emotion, and the importance of on-stage listening and letting the details of the set draw you deeper into the play.
Many pages are spent going over Stanislavski's theories and how they have been warped into something he never actually taught. He explains why Stanislavski's 'emotion-memory' may be needed and actually works quite well for the one-good-take movie set but yet is entirely unsuitable for the stage. The center of the book has ten pages of black and white photos of movie scenes and the reader is tested by being asked to examine the pictures and report what he sees and is then surprised to learn, without being told what to look for, he noticed the same things the author did. 'Things' that make one actor great and earns another a boring biography on the History Channel. In an enlightening chapter he introduces us to 'Other 20th Century Acting Theories' from Surrealist Antonin Artuad to Fantastic Realism purveyor Eugene Vakhtangov. At the end of the book are about fourteen pages of footnotes and a decent index, but the best part is the 'Annotated Bibliography of Acting Textbooks'. And this is because Mr. Hornby gives his personal uncensored opinion on each title. And the money saved by not buying books after reading his reviews makes The End of Acting a work far more valuable than it's purchase price.
reviewed: June 4, 2007
Begun: 05/26/2007 Finished: 06/02/2007Purchased: December 26, 1997
Where:barnesandnoble.com B&N Net Rank: 355,922
"This classic work on acting is one of the very few that stand beside Stanislavski as a must-have for all acting students and professionals. Richard Boleslavsky's Acting: The First Six Lessons is a treasure-box of wise observation about the art of acting, all wrapped up in six charming dialogues between a teacher and a student. Generations of actors have been enriched by Boleslavsky's witty and acute picture of the actor's craft. These six 'lessons' - miniature dramas about concentration, memory of emotion, dramatic action, characterization, observation, and rhythm - distill the challenge facing every actor."
Author Boleslaw Ryszard Szrednicki ('Americanized' as Richard Boleslavsky) came from Poland and founded what became the New York 'Actor's Studio' and was a early proponent of 'Method' acting. From 1918 to his early death in 1937 he directed twenty three movies. Acting: The First Six Lessons published in 1933 (and still in print) is a large-fonted one hundred thirty-three paged very-quickly read book. The 'lessons' mentioned range from 'concentration' to 'rhythm' and while I agree with much of what author Boleslavsky has written, much of it I also discard. As a matter of fact, the last chapter 'Rhythm', on an analytical level, made no sense whatsoever. The 1989 32nd printing, which is what I read, is most enjoyable for the fact that, being written around 1933 (when the Empire State building was a mere two years old and the tallest building in the land) political correctness was unknown. Through monologues with a "Pretty Creature of eighteen", only given the slightly misogynistic moniker of "The Creature", director Boleslavsky, along with the two already mentioned lessons, explains his take on emotions, action, characterization and observation for the actor. The most fun parts were when he was treating the young lady, with, albeit, totally innocent intentions, in a way that would get him labeled as a sexual predator in today's litigious society. I loved it when they shared cigarettes, an action that in the 21st Century could get his movie an "R" rating. Har! Being the book was seventy-four years old by the time I read it, I really did not discover anything shockingly new, but did see a few things from a previously unrealized angle.
"Bestselling author Elizabeth George has spent years teaching writing, and in Write Away she shares her knowledge of the creative process. George combines clear, intelligent, and functional advice on fiction writing with anecdotes from her own life, the story of her journey to publication, and inside information on how she meticulously researches and writes her novels. George's solid understanding of craft is conveyed in the enticing manner of a true storyteller, making Write Away not only a marvelous, interesting, and informative book but also a glimpse inside the world of a beloved writer."
I imagine if I wrote a book about writing, which I realize would be a tedious and dreary proposition, without much promise of monetary benefit, this is the book I would have written. Which explains its Barnes & Noble ranking at the bottom of the ninety thousands. Author Elizabeth George, another gorgeous curly carrot-topped red head, has penned a textbook on how to write a novel. By that I mean virtually everything one needs to know to turn out a novel is in Write Away: One Novelist's Approach to Fiction & the Writing Life. And like any textbook, the single time any pupil reads it is when she is more or less forced to. Write Away was not nearly as entertaining as Ann Lamott's bird by bird or easy-to-read as Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See. Ms. George is extremely analytical in describing her methods, so much so, that sometimes I was forced to brush on the 'Bum Glue' she mentions in Chapter 16, simply to stay seated and push through to the end of a chapter. The "Writing Life" mentioned in the sub-title, comes to surface, kind of like the Loch Ness monster, only for a few delightful moments during the final chapters of the work. Elizabeth's fixation on factual locations and scenery and buildings, is admiral to this very analytical wanna-be writer. But a security guard by night, and a writer by day, is not going to either possess the time or the income to jet off to Great Britain like John Edwards (after buying sufficient offsetting carbon credits of course) to scout locations and interview members of Parliament. Do not misunderstand me, Write Away is an excellent textbook if one wishes to learn every jot and tittle of how to use the 'Elizabeth George Method' of novel writing. As I begin my own efforts, it will definitely be to the right of my Herman-Miller armless chair, set on the still full brown cardboard moving box with the black 'Medium 3.0 CU. FT.' imprinted on its side and the orange felt pen scrawl indicating its contents being from a child's bedroom vacated by the dissolution of a quarter century romance. The box itself has settled into the worn gray carpeting spotted with the un-vacuumed detritus of divorced man's existence. The Write Away book itself will reside beneath the ivory Sony CD/Radio that resembles the sideways and oblong head of many science fiction robots, which is also supported by the floral-sided, peach colored, swollen family size box of KLEENEX® tissues.
reviewed: May 24, 2007
Page 137 " ... they went straight to St. Larch." Should be Dr. Larch
Begun: 05/10/2007 Finished: 05/23/2007Purchased: May 2007
Where:HamiltonBook.com B&N Net Rank: 98,132
"The first interstellar starship, John Glenn, fled a Solar System populated by rogue AIs and machine/human hybrids, threatened by too much nanotechnology, and rife with political dangers. The John Glenn's crew intended to terraform the nearly pristine planet Ymir, in hopes of creating a utopian society that would limit intelligent technology.
But by some miscalculation they have landed in another solar system and must shape the gas giant planet Harlequin's moon, Selene, into a new, temporary home. Their only hope of ever reaching Ymir is to rebuild their store of antimatter by terraforming the moon."
It's not that Building Harlequin's Moon by co-authors Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper, is a poorly written book. It isn't. However, I'd be willing to bet Ms. Cooper did most of the writing and Mr. Niven (who co-wrote the unbelievably fine Footfall--a book that I read twice) simply consulted and allowed his name to appear on the cover. I purchased the book because of the incredible art on the dust jacket, which on my copy was not buried behind the title. That and it was $5.99 at the Barnes & Noble sales table. And sadly enough, the huge machine depicted on the cover is never actually identified.
There is nothing really wrong with the book, it's simply that there very little excitement and I never did come to actually really care about any of the characters. I'll admit it was a fair challenge to complete the book once I started reading it.
reviewed: May 18, 2007
Page 184: "People can't do much worth getting put in jail."
Page 235: Clare placed a hand on Liren's shoulder, a gesture that Liren's didn't react to.
Page 398: Rachel has asked for some of the branches, and Kyu had ferried them down to her.
Begun: 04/19/2007 Finished: 05/10/2007Purchased: April 2007
Where:barnesandnoble.com B&N Net Rank: 114,040