Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Morning Book Post (and some movies too)

 I feel like I lost most of March due to a nasty strain of flu that ripped through my family. I spent nearly six days in bed. Many of those days, I was too weak to even read. Isn't that awful not to be able to read? I would try to read using the Kindle app on my phone, but it would hurt my eyes and I wouldn't get very far. Here I was in bed and I couldn't read. It was so frustrating.

Slowly, I got better, but even when I was getting well, I remained tired for a long time. During this time, thankfully, I was able to read.

I started reading Ann Patchett's The Getaway Car. This is a Kindle Single rather than a full length book. It's a short memoir about the writing life. Here's a quote:

“The journey from the head to the hand is perilous and lined with bodies. It is the road on which nearly everyone who wants to write—and many of the people who do write—get lost.”

In college, I took a short story writing class. I loved that class so much. If my college had offered a degree in creative writing, I would have jumped on it. I would have lost myself in words.

 I've wanted to write a novel for as long as I can remember. I have yet to start one, but I always have stories floating half-formed in my head. Patchett captures the writing life perfectly. It's quite difficult to transfer those images that play like a movie in your head into just the right words. I love reading about the discipline of writing.

 It's been just over twenty years since River Phoenix died of an overdose in front of the Viper Room in 1993. I wrote an extensive review of this book over at Goodreads. So, I won't go into much detail here. After reading this short biography, I've been revisiting some of his movies in the past week.

I watched The Thing Called Love (1993) where honestly, River just seems so off as an aspiring country singer and Sandra Bullock steals the show. The Thing Called Love was released the same year he died and I can only guess that his shaky and uneven performance is due to his increasing dependence on heavy drugs. This week, I watched his Oscar-nominated performance in Running on Empty (1988). Quite frankly, Phoenix really was at his best playing quiet introverted characters. Running on Empty is dated, but I still enjoyed watching River in this movie. I'm still waiting for Stand By Me (1986) to arrive at the library. I haven't seen Stand By Me in a really long time. Unlike Running on Empty, Stand By Me has a timeless quality and I look forward to sharing this film with my oldest son Luke this time around. I hope he will find the film soulful like I did at his age.

 I'm not going to re-visit all of his movies. Strangely, as a fan, I haven't even seen most of his movies. There was just a small handful that spoke to me. Despite his self-destructive behavior, River Phoenix is worth remembering even I've deliberately skipped several films in his filmography.

 As a side note, The Body, the short story that inspired Stand By Me is the only Stephen King I've ever read.
Here's a still from Stand By Me. Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, River Phoenix, and Jerry O'Connell

I've really only just stared Shirt of Flame, but since I've come to terms with the fact that I cannot read just book at a time, I've been much happier. I'm not going to fight the urge to read many books at once. I'm a binge reader and I'm proud!

 Anyway, I've always admired St. Therese and this book keeps showing up as a recommendation. So, I added it to my Kindle and started reading. Even happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin admires St. Therese and I thought that reading this book would help me understand this wise French nun.

My husband, my oldest son Luke, and I all finished Divergent recently. I took Luke to see the movie over Spring Break. Luke and I have a long tradition of reading the book before the movie is released and I really love discussing books and film with him. Reading the book before seeing a screen adaptation always builds the excitement of seeing the film.

 I didn't love Divergent, but it's probably not Veronica Roth's fault. I couldn't help it. I kept comparing it to The Hunger Games and that's so unfair. I'm not in a hurry to read the next installment, but I'm sure I'll get around to reading Insurgent when the next movie is released, because, you know, we have a tradition of reading the book before seeing the movie.

Next up on the page-to-screen adventures for me and Luke: The Maze Runner. Is it me or do most YA novels right now have menacing covers like this? The YA world is stuck in dystopia right now.

I'm also reading the current Newberry Medal Winner, Flora and Ulysses to Sam (almost 9). I usually love Kate DiCamillo, but I'm having a lukewarm response to Flora and Ulysses so far. Flora is obsessed with super hero comics and some unlikely circumstances make her a sidekick to a super squirrel. I've chuckled a few times and I appreciate the short chapters, but I'm not loving it. We're about half-way through this short novel. So, I may have to re-evaluate my current sentiments. The thing about DiCamillo is that she doesn't keep writing the same novel over and over just varying her formula. I really appreciate that.

That's it for Books this week. Have a great weekend. I hope you find time to curl up with a good book.

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