It’s been a while since I’ve shared my recent reads, and we are also in film awards season, so it’s a good time to write about those two subjects. I have a long list of classic literature that I want to get through and made some headway at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021. Do you know I never read “The Catcher in the Rye” or “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Lord of the Flies” in school? Neither in high school or college! I started with James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It On the Mountain”. First off, I am a HUGE James Baldwin fan. I actually hate that I did not know of him or much about his activism and work until more recently. When I was at a Hank Willis Jr. exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum there was a video montage that used mostly all of Baldwin’s words and speeches to narrate. It was amazing. And awe-inspiring. Baldwin is a true treasure.
I then moved on to tackle some James Joyce, starting with “Dubliners” and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. I liked the short story style of “Dubliners”. Next, I took on “Ulysses”. Now, I’ve read Tolstoy, but Joyce’s “Ulysses” has to be the most difficult book I’ve ever read. The stream of consciousness narrative was difficult to follow and the metaphors and hallucinations of the characters and everything else that makes the book legendary also made it very difficult. It’s not that I did not enjoy and respect it, but I was very glad to be done with it. Certainly a challenge.
The final classic I read was “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, which was very good. An excellent dystopian novel for anyone with interest in that genre. Sit it up right beside “A Handmaid’s Tale”. Political and personal preferences aside, I have always enjoyed reading Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s Killing series. I knocked off “Killing England” and “Killing of the Rising Sun”.
After those classics and non-fictions, I took a swing back into some fiction. Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Book of Longings” was great. I was hesitant to read it since I don’t fully believe in some of the story, but keeping in mind it is truly fiction made me appreciate the story. It was a good read for Lent, too, because of the view of Jesus’ life, death and personality.
Back in December I joined a book club with some old friends and former high school classmates. Here’s what we’ve read so far:
• “Vox” by Christina Dalcher (eye-opening dystopian novel, very good)
• “Backstage Pass” by Olivia Cummings (steamy romance novel, if you’re into that kind of thing)
• “The Light in Hidden Places” by Sharon Cameron (YA Holocaust novel based on a true story - fantastic read)
• “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom (great writing and a lot going on to keep you intrigued; good, but not the warmest read)
We already have our April pick plus I’m underway on a new stack of fiction, so I’ll be back with all those reads once I get through them!
In terms of film and documentaries, I have a lot of work to do! The Academy Awards are coming up in a month, so I have some time left but need to get watching! I loved, loved, loved, loved “Mank”. If you haven’t seen or don’t fully understand the film “Citizen Kane”, “Mank” will do nothing for you. But as a movie buff (especially the classics) Mank checked all the boxes for me. I already want to go back and watch it again. Chadwick Boseman is a front-runner for best supporting actor, and it has nothing to do with his passing. His performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was PHENOMENAL. And I mean that to the extent of every one of those capital letters! A great August Wilson-based film. If you liked “Fences” from a few years ago, check out this one. I already touched on “Soul” in a previous post, so will skip that here (loved it). “The Prom” was eh. Great cast, but nothing earth-shattering. A fun watch. “One Night In Miami” was excellent. I mean, Leslie Odom Jr. can do no wrong in my eyes so it was great to see him in a big film. Loved the whole premise, the dialogue, the acting, everything.
The only nominated documentary I’ve watched so far is “Time”. It was good, but it struggled to hold my interest at times. The message was extremely poignant in our current society. I’m looking forward to watching a few more in the coming weeks.
What have you been reading lately? I’m always open to suggestions to add to my list. Have you watched any movies or documentaries lately? As always, leave a comment and let me know what you think.
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." --Anatole France