Monday, July 16, 2012
Monday, November 28, 2011
Through the years, I’ve read vampire books, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and others, but the whole vampire concept is repulsive to me. I only read the books to see why they are so attractive to so many readers, and that’s why I watched the Twilight movie. Stoker’s and Rice’s books made me a horrified spectator with never a touch of sympathy for the vampires and their sordid, nasty worlds. I had to admire the writing especially that of Anne Rice who made the vampire’s life so real.
Stephanie Meyer in Twilight attempted to make the Cullen vampires more acceptable by having them satisfy their blood lusts with animal blood, but they remained vampires, cold and unfeeling except for their beloveds. In most vampire stories the prey of a vampire is an innocent, unwilling victim. Not so in Twilight. Bella was attracted to Edward from first glance and desired him while Edward, though obsessed with her, controlled his lust for her blood to protect her humanness. Not typical vampire behavior.
In all the vampire stories I’ve read, vampires are magnets, sensual, attractive beyond resistance to their mesmerized victims. In one scene Meyer’s writing far surpassed the movie in showing this. That was the scene in the sunlight when Edward revealed himself in all his vampire glory. That was the only time in the book that I could understand why Bella was so attracted to Edward’s pale, cold vampire self. I was disappointed in the same movie scene and thought I should have experienced a feast for the senses in music, color, movement that made me feel a little of Bella’s fascination with the vampire.
The movie captured Bella’s fear of, Edward’s rival, the vampire villain with all the lust, instinct, and ruthlessness of the typical vampire we love to hate. The appropriately scary sights and sounds of the movie kept me glued to my seat at times, but other scenes like the ones of Edward zipping about with Bella clinging to his back made me want to laugh.
I will say about Twilight, both movie and book, I’m glad I saw and read them but won’t do it again. That’s what I said about the acclaimed book and movie, Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence. So what do I know?
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Now, after the story is done, mundane words replaced with vivid words full of emotion, plot refined and honed to epitomize the theme, characters and setting grown familiar yet unknown, I step out of that world back into the real one that competes with my imagination. I left my desk this afternoon to drive through golden ginkgoes, maples of red, orange and yellow, multicolored trees wearing their autumn dresses. Glad to be alive here and now, I entered the recording booth of the radio station at the library to read a Christmas short story by Charles Dickens.
Everyone knows the Dickens story of A Christmas Carol with Scrooge and the ghosts, but his other Christmas stories were a revelation to me. Today I read What Christmas Is As We Grow Older, a very short one that took only fourteen minutes to read. I had read the story before and didn’t think much of it when I read it silently. It seemed to be merely a collection of the author’s memories. But when I read it aloud into the microphone, it came to life. I had never thought I’d like to read aloud the convoluted, multi-clause sentences of Charles Dickens, but I did. The music of the language and the richness of the words made those memories of Dickens come alive for me.
I can only hope my writing may some day enthrall a reader as much as I was captivated by the world and the writing of Charles Dickens. That would be more than full payment for the months and years I’ve spent closeted with my research, my creative muse, and my computer. Not that I regret any minute of the process. Nothing is more satisfying to me than creating another world peopled with characters who are part of me and everybody I know, people who meet the challenges of their world with hope.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I have not read the book but now have it and cannot wait to delve into it. As a writer, I was fascinated with what Yann Martel had to say. For one thing, he said he was a slow reader, reading a word at a time to get all the author put into a book. According to him, every book a person reads should give the reader a new or more complete understanding of life and the world and leave him or her thinking about it. Martel writes to give his readers the kind of experience he wants from any book he reads.
Before writing Beatrice and Virgil, he read about eighty new books and spent a tremendous amount of time in learning experiences and research as he planned, plotted, and lived the story. That’s why some people may have thought he suffered from writers' block; he said that was not the case. He had no problem writing when the book was ready to be written.
As a fan, I was glad to know Martel is a warm, friendly person. He appreciates all of his readers, especially women and their book clubs. Though he classified himself as a middle-aged man, he admitted that most middle-aged men do not read.
A silent listener to the interview, I think I learned more than I have in several day-long writers’ workshops I've attended. So many writers seem to whip out the books one after another that I had wondered why I was so slow. Now I’m glad to know that all my time spent in research and planning, several years of it for my current novel, would not be at all unusual for Yann Martel.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Thanks to Sunday Readers Book Club and author Mary Ann Shaffer, I can lay that prejudice aside. From the first page I was hooked by the characters and the experience of living in post World War II London and learning what happened in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. Each character with his or her own nature and personality became real, struggling to live through the occupation of Guernsey or to write the story of the islanders’ survival. There are several villains, more than one love story, an orphan, history, and plenty of humor in the novel, as well as shock and horror.
Since I hosted the book club yesterday to discuss the book, it was my privilege to provide snacks. Naturally, my first thought was potato peel pie, created in the book by Will Thisbee who said he wouldn’t attend any meeting unless there was something to eat. After checking the Internet, I found that potato peel pie existed only in the pages of THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY and the minds of a few creative cooks who, with varying degrees of success, had tried to recreate Will’s pie. In the novel the potato peel pie was Will’s only culinary contribution that other members of the Society actually liked. I set out using Will’s ingredients to duplicate his success and produce an acceptable potato peel pie based on a recipe from Trish of Empire Bay, Australia. Thank you, Trish!
Potato Peel Pie
2 cu. grated raw potato peels with eighth inch potato left on, packed
1 small to medium onion, finely chopped
1 large egg, well beaten
2 tbsp. self-rising flour
2 tbsp. vegetable oil. I used extra virgin olive oil.
Mashed potatoes made from peeled potatoes
2-3 small beets, cooked and mashed
½ cup sour cream
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. salt
4 tbsp butter
Oil pie pan. Heat oven to 400F. Mix grated potato peels, 3/4 of onion, egg, flour, and oil. Press into pie pan with spoon to form crust. Bake crust 20 minutes or more until brown.
Cook potatoes until soft. Place potatoes and all other ingredients including remaining onion browned in some of the butter. I wanted to add bacon, but they had eaten all the pig. In food processor, blend until smooth. Pour into crust and bake in 350 F oven for 15 minutes.
The pie smelled wonderful, looked like raspberry, and according to the book club was very good. Someone said it seemed like a dish for company dinner.
I also served a traditional Guernsey apple dessert, Gache Melee, pronounced Gosh Mel-are which got rave reviews. For those who asked, here’s the recipe.
2 cu. plain flour
¼ lb. Guernsey butter
3 cu. peeled, cored, and chopped apples
1½ cu. brown sugar
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. mixed spice
½ cu. water.
½ tsp. salt
Cut butter into flour and other dry ingredients until like breadcrumbs. Add apple and mix.
Add egg and water, and mix well. Place in 7 inch square pan. Bake in slow (300 F) oven. Serve warm or cold. You can add a dollop of cream or ice cream. Yummy!
After all the food and a great discussion, the book club left just before Frank and I discovered that our AC had also left. Temps in the 90s are not much fun without AC, even with ceiling fans. After a sweltering night and a desperate call to the AC maintenance company this morning, we now have a new hero wearing a toolbelt and cool air again. Whew!
Monday, January 4, 2010
The five of us had worked for about three months preparing a singing/dancing event to entertain our daughters and granddaughters at our annual Bolly girls party. None of us carry the name of our grandfather, John Bolly, but we’ve always been proud to call ourselves Bolly girls. We thought the younger ones should know all about being a Bolly girl, so we wrote and presented what we thought was a musical comedy of our life on the hill in old South Memphis.
To the tune of “The Crawdad Song,” We sang about Grandma and our mothers, and then about us.
Five in all, we had a ball, Honey, baby mine.
Our audience sat silently watching as we sang about Doris’s pet duck that was eaten by Mrs. Stackhouse and about our friends and the spanks we got. I never heard a snicker, and we thought we were doing funny stuff. Couldn‘t figure out why they weren’t laughing, or groaning, or something.
For pots and pans and dirty dishes,
And for your hands and for your face.
When we sang, “Grandma’s Lye Soap” in the most off-key, raucous voices we could muster, no response. But by then the youngest granddaughters were getting into the spirit and wore big smiles as they stared at us.
By the time we got to “Jesus Loves Me,” I was seeing more smiles. Almost everybody sang with us on that one.
Sunday morning in an old paneled truck, Honey,
We’d head to church, holding our noses, Babe.
During the week Grandpa used the truck
Hauling chicken manure to make his compost hot,
Honey, baby mine.
A few smiles, but mostly silence brought us to the finale.
We leave you now with a taste of just
The way we were. You’ll remember I trust,
Honey, baby mine.
While quickly transforming ourselves from 1950s teens into current dancing queens, we heard from the other room the uproarious laughter we had hoped for. They must have been entertaining each other.
You can dance, you can jive
Having the time of your life
Thanks to ABBA we ended on a high note with most of the granddaughters singing with us.
We bowed and it was all over. Not one wave of applause in the silence that followed. Nobody said much about our great performance. What a disappointment! We had so hoped they would love the show. What I heard was, “I was amazed you could remember all that and had the stamina to do it."
Finally, a week later, my daughter said they all really enjoyed our performance, but didn’t know if they should laugh or clap or what. They didn’t want to hurt our feelings. I would have thought seeing five grandmotherly women cavorting about, singing the hilarious lyrics I wrote . . .
Oh, that’s it! What a blow to the ego! I’m not a funny writer. And we had thought seeing old ladies in ribbon skirts, galloping through the house on beanpole horses would have been so funny nobody could keep from laughing.
The real concern is that our kids have forgotten how to play and have fun. I wonder if they ever get so tickled they just can’t stop laughing. I know our mothers did. And we did too, again and again, when we practiced that farce. Maybe funny these days is different. It might have to be on a screen of some kind or be accompanied by a laugh track to let people know it’s funny.
My assignment for the new year is to find out what’s funny.
Friday, October 30, 2009
The world was blessed with a luminescence that sent me into the house for my camera. I didn’t snatch the camera and run out into that magnificent day as I wanted to. No, I began my yoga stretches, gazing out the window at the reds and golds of Japanese maples and crepe myrtles against the background of Foster hollies with their red berries shining in glossy green leaves. As I stretched, grayness returned and hid the glory of the sun. The trees no longer shone with jewel rich colors. In a matter of minutes, the unexpected marvel of the morning was gone, and I had missed the chance to capture it on film.
During the high that possessed me while the sun did its magic, I thought I wanted those bright, effervescent colors all over my house. Paint the walls with the reds, oranges, golds of exuberance. Then I remembered a previous fall season that seemed to last forever before the autumn colors faded and disappeared. I had loved the glowing colors that delighted my eyes and filled my heart, but after several weeks of such mind-boggling vivid colors, I found myself longing for the serenity of the more common blues and greens of the landscape.
That must be why God in his infinite wisdom gives us glorious mountain peak experiences for only a short while. We just can’t handle more. After the grayness took over this morning and the rain poured down, I was content to sit here in my chair at the computer and write. I’d never get anything done if I were out dancing with the leaves all day.