Grit or Glamour? Your (Casting) Call: On Milkman and La La Land

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Milkman, by Anna Burns

The Oscars just passed. I didn’t watch, although I love the movies. That being said, I’m usually behind in my screenings, so let’s tie this in to the Oscars two years ago. Bright side: I’m talking about an extremely current book. You win some, you lose some.

I love the movie La La Land, and I will make no apologies for that. I know there was a bit of a fuss during 2017’s Oscars season (and not just because Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty awkwardly announced – incorrectly – that it had won Best Picture) because there were so many more “meaningful” pictures that required attention. I’m a big fan of “meaningful movies,” so I understand the impetus toward criticism of this seemingly fluffy film. But I feel like there was a big component of La La Land that people weren’t acknowledging: The entire thing was cleverly framed as a Hollywood fantasy however you chose to interpret the story. (Hello, people are dancing on air in the Griffith Observatory.) Meanwhile, the other “best picture” contenders were powerful and gritty views of real-life issues. Continue reading

Are You a Story or a Novel? Thoughts on The Only Story by Julian Barnes and the Stories We (choose to) Believe

the only story

The Only Story, by Julian Barnes

There are three nearby coffee shops I frequent to get some work done. I like them all equally for different reasons – one has superior coffee, one has a nice array of breakfast sandwiches, and one seems to have a lot of moms and/or grandparents with toddlers. One of the above also has a group from a community organization that meets often. They are kind of loud and judgmental – and I love it and I hate it. I love it because it’s entertaining and I just can’t turn away (even though it looks like I’m just tapping away at my laptop). I hate it because they are just. so. damn. smug.

eavesdropping

Me surreptitiously listening to the other table.

Here are some recent conversation topics (some details changed to protect the loud): Why do people think New Englanders think they’re so superior? We are not! (Followed by conversation that points to: Yes, they think Massachusetts residents are superior.) Group leader’s detailed description of his family in a non-New England state and his siblings’ beliefs. (Cue uproarious laughter.) Discussion about teenagers and poor food choices. (Followed by a description of group leader’s self-righteous child-and-food philosophy, which is interesting because I can’t imagine this young guy has teenagers. Oh, just you wait!)

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In Obvious News, Authors Want You to Read Their Books: Thoughts on The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

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The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald

The Target bookshelves – they’re a bugaboo of mine. I won’t deny buying books at the bullseye bonanza and I also won’t deny that this quintessential American destination sometimes stocks good ones. But in a country that prides itself on individuality and choice, Target book sales promote just the opposite. Tell me: Where’s the fun in that?! (Well, it is indeed fun when you look for themes in the store’s offerings, as seen below…)

So, where do you get your books when you don’t want to read about what Target (or Reese or Oprah) wants you to read about?

The Real Housewives of Target

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