Semple, Hanff and Audrey Gordon

I wish I were more adept at finding the past posts which had led my reading choices so that I could give credit where credit was due. About a month ago someone wrote about Maria Semple’s  “Where’d you go, Bernadette” and the description was enough to make me decide to read it.  It certainly wasn’t the garish cover which attracted me.  But there was something in the blog which made me deviate from my usual conventional reading pattern. I started it today and have read fifty pages.  By the time I got to page 10 and Ollie-O I was hooked.

Ollie-O has been brought into a school to motivate the Parents Association to raise money to encourage a better class of people to the school and to shift the location of the school away from the next-door wholesale seafood distributor. Families are divided into Subaru parents and Mercedes parents.  Well, a Lexus is acceptable !

Because this is an American writer satirising  her own American society I can laugh long and loud which perhaps I wouldn’t do if it was written by a non-American.  I would have you all down on my head like a ton of bricks if I were to be so cruel to you !

When reading about Ollie-O I soon had a face and a voice for her. Some of you may know Audrey Gordon, the celebrity chef, with her snobbish and racist comments on TV. I’m  sure Ollie-O looks and sounds like an American verion of Audrey.

Image

But Ollie-O is only a small part of the book which is written in various voices  in different forms of communication between the characters in the book – an extension of the idea used in Helene Hanff’s delightful “84 Charing Cross Road”, an exchange of snail-mail letters between a customer and a bookshop. In fact in the pre-internet days when I used to  order books from James Thin booksellers in Edinburgh at the other side of the world  I was quite sure I was going to become the new Helene Hanff !

But Ollie-O is only a small part of the book which is about a bright student and her bright parents.   I am so looking forward to reading more.

Choice of school – for a better education or for social climbing ?

Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling

Rowling among the tree tops

Usually I don’t hesitate to discard a book if I’m not enjoying it so why haven’t I discarded Casual Vacancy by J.K.Rowling.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t trust my own judgement.  After all, think of  the number of books she has sold and think of my lack of training in writing and the appreciation of  literature .

So why has it got to the point where I still HAVE to read fifty pages a day if I’m to get it back to the library in time, apart from the fact that I find her writing very dull. What instinct prevented me from buying it for myself in the first place? There’s nothing wrong with the storyline.  There is a vacancy.  That’s a common happening in the real world and leaves plenty of room for the imagination to work.  But it’s an adult vacancy.  So why all this pre-occupation with the children of the village? To me they are mostly irrelevant to the filling of the vacancy which I thought was the purpose of the story.

I’m half way through the book and I am still having trouble distinguishing the characters.  They are still shapeless, faceless people.  Probably the children are the easiest.   Krystal, Fats and Andrew, well I think I’d know them if I met them in the street !  But so far the adults blend together.  I would probably have to start again to try and sort them out but I shouldn’t have to do that to enjoy the book. Perhaps I’ll read this book again some time in the future and thoroughly enjoy it, but I have doubts about that.

At least I can pick nice places to sit and read it, this time in the tree-tops with their roots down on the river bank.

Looking out through the glass

Hello world!

I enjoy my Coffee, particularly a skinny latte mid-afternoon.  I like to have my latte warmer than is considered politically correct as I want it to last for as long as possible.  That warm glass in my hand is always a link to some other pleasant activity be it reading, chatting, observing others or just simply gazing out the cafe window and day-dreaming.

But it didn’t quite work out that way today as my TV recorder is practically full – no room for tonight’s downloads. It’s my own fault – there is always so much I’d like to watch but never enough time.

The earliest recording was the film  South Solitary so I sat down with a home-made black coffee to watch it. Seven people on a lonely lighthouse island off the Australian coast in 1927.  Circumstances reduced it to just two, each with their own personal and post WW1 problems.  I found it a sheer delight, the delight of simple story telling, added to which is some beautiful photography.

I feel sorry for Margaret , one of the movie reviewers on At The Movies on ABC TV.  And I quote – ” David, I actually wasn’t as impressed by this as you are and I watched it and I went, “When is the second act going to kick into this film?” And like it never happens. It’s like it goes forever, this monotony of life on the island.”

Hey, Margaret, those people were healing, they were finding a better life than they were expecting, and healing like theirs doesn’t happen rapidly; we needed to see the various strands which led up to that healing.  It’s a story of hope for all of us.  I just have one problem – I want to watch the film again so I can’t delete it from the Recorder

A parting gift but no sorrow as the future is bright with anticipation.