Thursday, May 02, 2013

Great Gatsby Movie and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

I am really looking forward to seeing the latest adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" at the movie theater, because it looks like a lavish, beautiful production.

According to F. Scott Fitzgerald's handwritten ledger
his film payments from 1919 to 1938, the author earned $16,666 for the
film version of The Great Gatsby
"Math wizards can computate what these numbers mean in today's dollars.
But, hey, isn't that price for a treatment what MGM is still paying?" wrote regarding the documents, which were released as the
May 10 opening of Baz Luhrmann's new adaptation of the classic novel

Also Warner Bros. has unveiled "a plethora of images
to further illustrate that the film "is a literal feast for the eyes,
and it's detailed no better than in these still images. The opulence,
the bright colors, and the wealth literally dripping from the ceiling is
all highlighted, and set against the flawless cast that includes
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan," Indiewire wrote.

This idea of a book club on the ferry boat makes me want to go live on Bainbridge Island or Vashon Island.

Books Afloat on the Bainbridge Ferry

On April 25, Susan Wiggs, author of The Apple Orchard (Harlequin), held
a reading in an unlikely place--on board the Seattle/Bainbridge ferry in

The reading was the first in a new program organized by the Kitsap
Regional Library, called Books Afloat. Every Thursday, on the 3:50 p.m.
ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle and on the return trip to
Bainbridge Island at 4:40 p.m., an author or a librarian will hold a
book talk. The Kitsap Regional Library will also be operating a "Ferry
Tales" book club. All Books Afloat programs are free for ferry riders.

More information about Book Afloat can be found at the Kitsap Library

 "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson has gotten a lot of good ink and hype in the book world, with many of the latest "It" authors blurbing the book and going on and on about how dazzling it is, with all these magnificent characters and clever prose.
So I started reading it, and was hard-pressed to stay awake for the first 75 pages, which are pretty boring, with prose that merely details, but doesn't examine anything of value. The main character, Ursula, dies in every chapter, and then is resurrected by the next page, after which she uses the knowledge from her past experience to avoid the same fate in this next life. Except she soon discovers that taking a different path or preventing someone from bringing the Spanish influenza into their home only makes for her to have a more difficult and tortuous life that ends in death for herself and/or any children or spouses she's had. It's like watching a train wreak over and over, but watching it happen at different times with slightly different causes. There's still going to be death and mayhem, but the vehicle that brings the death is in question, so as to keep the reader turning pages, one supposes. In one life she marries a Nazi and after his death, when it is clear that Germany has no food and has lost the war,  she takes cyanide capsules with her daughter and dies. In another life she is killed during the London Blitz. In another she commit suicide by gassing herself. You get the idea. This book is an endless litany of wasted life and meaningless death. Ursula has a wonderful father, whom she adores, several brothers and sisters and a mother Sylvia, who is a horrid snob and a b*tch. They live in the English countryside in a home christened "Fox Corner" and though they seem to be out of the way, a surprising number of dangerous people, and viruses seem to lurk around every tree, from rapists to pedophilic serial killers to influenza, TB and war. In fact, Atkinson manages to get both World Wars into her novel, which should be re-classified as horror fiction, in my opinion. 
I didn't feel any sort of connection to the protagonist, Ursula, other than a mild curiosity to see how she was going to die in this chapter. She seemed rather witless, graceless and depressed most of the time, and we never did discover if she had any sort of talent that she could shape into a career before she made another mistake and took up with yet another awful man who would either abuse her or set her on the path to distruction. The horrid mother spends most of the book judging everyone and finding them wanting, saying cruel, rude things to everyone and generally being the kind of character you pray will get killed off during childbirth.
I honestly didn't see the point of the novel, unless it is to say that if you're living a worthless existence, don't think that reincarnation will save you, because really, every existence is just a worthless, dull, drab slog through horrible circumstances until a bomb with your name on it finds you. There's a strong fatalism that runs through the novel that really makes you want to toss either the book or yourself out a window. The prose is fairly standard, not lithe or glamorous at all, and the plot plods along on tired legs until the predictable ending. I'd give this book a D, and I would only recommend it to someone elderly who has lived through both wars and finds reincarnation fascinating.

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