Summer Reading Challenge 2018: The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) Booth Tarkington

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There’s a moment in Richard Linklater’s 2008 film Me and Orson Welles where Welles (Christian McKay) tells another character, “Ambersons is about how everything gets taken away from you.” That scene – which takes place in 1937, years before Citizen Kane – is meant to convey not only a theme from the novel, but also Welles’s own future. Reading the Booth Tarkington novel The Magnificent Ambersons, you can see why Welles was so attracted to it as a young man and how it served as a painful reminder of his own life in later years.

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Noir – Christopher Moore

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Noir – Christopher Moore
William Morrow
Hardcover (library), 339 pages
ISBN 9780062433978

Okay, so maybe I’m breaking the rules here. Christopher Moore’s latest novel Noir isn’t about classic movies, but it’s set in a universe that classic movie lovers (especially those with an inclination for film noir and/or hardboiled fiction) will know and love. Consider the opening line from the first chapter:

“She had the kind of legs that kept her butt from resting on her shoes – – a size-eight dame in a size-six dress and every mug in the joint was rooting for the two sizes to make a break for it…”

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Summer Reading Challenge 2018: Peter Cushing: An Autobiography

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Peter Cushing: An Autobiography
Weidenfeld and Nicholson
trade paperback, 157 pages
ISBN 029779132X

It’s not uncommon for people coming into the library where I work to get a little confused about biographies and autobiographies. We often get requests such as “that autobiography of Alexander Hamilton that he made into a musical,” (multiple problems there) or “Leonardo da Vinci’s new autobiography by Walter Isaacson” (problems here, too). With grace and gentility, we point out that autobiographies are written by the subject themselves and biographies are penned by other people who (hopefully) did careful research and study. Memoirs (which seem to be everywhere these days) are like autobiographies, but usually focused on a specific portion of the writer’s life. Peter Cushing: An Autobiography is truly an autobiography, yet it ends well before the end of the actor’s career. At only 157 pages, the work is quite short, stopping at the death of Cushing’s wife Helen in 1971. Although he worked for 15 more years and lived until 1994, Cushing chose not to reveal anything further about himself in this volume. (A second volume, Past Forgetting: Memoirs of the Hammer Years was published in 1988.)

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