Friday, May 20, 2022

FFB: LET HIM GO, Larry Watson




I am a big Larry Watson fan and LET HIM GO did not disappoint. It is a great followup to books like WHITE CROSSES and MONTANA: 1948.

After their adult son is killed in an accident, his widowed wife marries again and leaves the Blackledge's home to go with her new husband to Montana. She takes their grandson with her, of course, and therein lies the problem.

"With you or without you," Margaret Blackledge insists, and at these words George knows his only choice is to follow her to Montana.
 

George takes to the road with Margaret by his side, tracking down the Weboy clan quickly. When Margaret tries to convince Lorna to return home to North Dakota, bringing little Jimmy with her, the Blackledges find themselves mixed up with the entire Weboy clan, a horrific family determined not to give the boy up without a fight. It's more about possession than love with a family like this. 

This slim volume contains a heart-pounding story, unforgettable characters, terrific atmosphere and some of the most beautiful prose you will ever read. I liked it almost as much as MONTANA: 1948, making it still one of my favorite books. Oh, to write like Mr. Watson.  

This was made into quite a decent movie with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane a few years ago. 

 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: "Just a Little Fever" Sheila Heti

 


I have subscribed to THE NEW YORKER since I was a teenager. I also subscribed to THE NEW REPUBLIC and a few teen magazines then. Over the years, there were times when we subscribed to 25 magazines. Phil liked cooking and gardening magazines as well as many scholarly ones. We got THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, THE ECONOMIST, THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, ATLANTIC, HARPERS and many more. Now it is just the one.

The short stories used to be my favorite part of the magazine. That was back in the day when the stories tended to be by Updike, Cheever, Munro, Carver, Beatty, etc. Those were stories I understood even though I didn't come from that milieu. 

Now I rarely read the stories because they puzzle me. For instance in 'Just a Little Fever" a young woman washes her hair in cherries, goes to work at the bank and becomes interested in a customer old enough to be her grandfather. It is a long story about their courtship, which never explains her attraction (or his) beyond a degree of comfort she experiences in his company.  The story ends, many words later, with their breakup which appears to relieve her. The writing is fine, but shouldn't we understand by the end the point of the story. Is it enough just to offer a portrait of a relationship?

This is the knock on a lot of literary stories. That nothing happens. But in a good one, things do happen or you come to a greater understanding of the human condition. This offered none of that for me. Both characters were unknowable. Was that the point? Another thing: I am reading more and more novels and stories with a quirky central character . Or an autistic/aspergers character. When did we become to fascinated with this? Was it Sheldon on THE BIG BANG that started this trend. The other trend would be characters with dementia. Hardly a story goes by without a character with dementia.


Kevin Tipple

TracyK 

Jerry House 

George Kelley 

Steve Lewis

Monday, May 16, 2022

Monday, Monday


 HACKS is back, picking up where it left off. The chemistry between these two women make it zing. Also enjoying UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN

and BREEDERS.

Went to see a terrific MAMA MIA at a local theater here. I guess if you like the music of ABBA, which I do, you won't find much to dislike.

I doubt I have ever seen a cast enjoy themselves more than this one. Say what you want about musicals amateurs are much more likely to be able to sing than act. And this one had many good singers.

We have had a gorgeous week here. Although things are closing down to the left and right of me as construction begins, I can still sneak out. This was a good move for me. I feel calmer than in years despite all of the COVID and bad politics around me. Not sure why but I'll take it. 

Reading THE LIONESS by Chris Bohjalian.

What about you?

Friday, May 13, 2022

FFB POWER OF THE DOG, Thomas Savage


 

 POWER OF THE DOG was a 1967 novel written by Thomas Savage. It concerns two brothers on a ranch in Montana in 1925. They have reached the age when most would consider them confirmed bachelors when the younger, George, falls in love with a widow, upsetting the balance on the ranch. Phil, the alpha male of the family and ranch, is incensed with this and is cruel to both the new wife and her son. Rose starts drinking and her son despairs in how to help his mother. His solution is a drastic one.

I liked the movie of this work well enough to read the novel. We get a lot more insight into Phil especially in the novel.  He is a closeted homosexual who has probably only once been able to act on his desires. So he has turned that love to his brother and can't bear losing him to Rose. Rose is a timid woman but her son who seems to be at first is not. We have four interesting characters here and the author makes us sympathetic to each of them.  Phil may be a monster in some ways but the writer makes him understandable. A great book. Savage wrote many others, which I will seek out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Short Story Wednesday: Two stories from TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES, edited by Sarah Weinman


 "Everybody Needs a Mink" by Dorothy B. Hughes 

There is no crime in this story. A woman shopping at an upscale department store and wishing she had the money to buy some of the beautiful goods she sees is asked by a clerk to model a mink coat for an elderly man standing nearby. She agrees and the mink is a perfect fit. Joyfully she dashes to a mirror to see herself in it. The clerk comes over and asks her initials for a monogram and her address to have it delivered. Of course the woman thinks this is all a gag but gives her the information. 

The coat is delivered and when she tells her family about this they are befuddled too but her husband says, "Wear it. Everybody needs a mink." When later on TV she sees a man being carted off to prison and somewhat similar to the man in the stores, she tells them this was the man. And she wears it after that, wishing she could properly thank the man but glad he saw her joy in modeling it.

"The Purple Shroud" Joyce Harrington

Every summer the Moons go to an artist colony where she weaves and he paints. He also recruits a young woman to be his consort for the summer. Finally having had enough of this, Mrs. Moon weaves a shroud and murders him then sews him into the shroud and dumps him into the lake. As the story ends she is headed out to Minneapolis where this summer's consort lives. This is a gorgeously written story that takes its time with her weaving...and murdering. No one will mourn the death of this womanizer.

 Kevin Tipple

TracyK

George Kelley 

Richard Robinson 

Todd Mason

Monday, May 09, 2022

Monday, Monday

 

Lots of stuff to watch. BOSCH, LEGACY is a solid return to form although the commercials are a mood kill. How did we ever tolerate them.

THE STAIRCASE-well, it will be hard to top the excellent docu-series of a few years ago. So many children to keep track of.

Saw two movies at the movie theaters: THE DUKE. Charming and well done if a bit too cute. So much a flaw in many British productions. SECRET CITY with Sandra Bullock was fun if slight. She certainly looks great at age 57. 

Speaking of 57, Gary Cooper was 57 in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, playing opposite a 27 year old Audrey Hepburn. He looked older than 57 too. It was a bit creepy but since she always seemed to play opposite older men, it wasn't as scary as it might have been.  Megan did a podcast about Billy Wilder's lesser known films and this was one of them.

A few lovely days here although the race track outside my windows is hard to take on a Saturday night. Some state ordinance is holding the local cops from ticketing these hooligans. They have fixed their


exhaust systems to make a lot of noise.  Can't bear the thought of the Woodward Dream Cruise in August.

But this has already started for me. I have a front row window onto it. 

The legs problem is a result of the estrogen-blocking drug I am taking. So I will have to try to get used to it. Thirty percent of the women taking it suffer leg pains. The side effects are considerable but how can I not take it. 

LOVED THE POWER OF THE DOG by Thomas Savage. Also enjoying HOMEGOING. Hard to read about the suffering of the Black people but the story is too powerful not to read. 


What about you?