Towse: views from the hill

August 12, 2010

McMurtry memoirs disappoint

Filed under: books,people — Towse @ 11:04 am

I was disappointed in the book the-ladies-who-read chose for this month’s reading: Books: a memoir by Larry McMurtry. Oh, I wasn’t disappointed when we chose it. I was, after all, the person who had come up with the list of about six titles we chose from. I’d even read the first pages that Amazon offers before I added it to the list. Seemed like a readable memoir from a writer I wanted to know more about.

First pages can be misleading.

For someone who writes fiction so well — Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, Horseman, Pass By (the book that became the movie Hud), Last Picture Show, and many more — his book seemed a tedious conglom of memories written on 3×5 cards and then reshuffled for coherence. Each card was then expanded a tad to fill a very short (one- or two- pages usually) chapter. The memoir consisted of a rare few noteworthy bits of gleam caught up in a tubload of mud.

Not to be dissuaded (and because I’d picked up the book when I was down at the Mechanics Institute Library to pick up Books), I continued on with the second in his trio of memoirs. The first of the trio covered his book selling/book seeking yen. Yesterday I finished Literary Life: a second memoir, which covered his memories of life as a writer. Although marginally better than BOOKS, the prose was still pedestrian, the stories colorless. Surely this man must tell a good story at a party. Why can’t he translate that into prose?

Hollywood: a third memoir, which covers his days in Hollywood and his life as a screenwriter, came out Wednesday. I’m not going to bother. …

April 12, 2010

Strangers on a Train – Highsmith/Hitchcock

Filed under: books,movies — Tags: — Towse @ 11:38 pm

Last month book club read THE TALENTED MISS HIGHSMITH by Joan Schenkar because we planned to read a (an?) Highsmith this month.

This month we read STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and tonight we discussed the book =and= watched the Hitchcock adaptation.

Farley Granger as Haines — a tennis star in the film, an architect in the book. Ruth Roman — his love interest (her family connections way different from the book). Robert Walker as Bruno (looking nothing like the Bruno I imagined). Leo G. Carroll (as Roman’s dad and looking very LGC-like). Kasey Rogers (credited as Laura Elliott — as Miriam, the soon-to-be-in-any-way-possible ex-wife). Patricia Hitchcock — as the younger sister of the love interest, a role that did not exist in the book.

Patricia Hitchcock was great. The story was way different from the book. We spent the evening doing a line by line (that didn’t happen! they were eating a hamburger! wait! what about the. …)

Chandler got screen credit but admitted that the final screenplay included almost none of what he wrote.

Highsmith was not happy with the film.

The book is cherce. The movie too. Watch/read both. Or either.

For those with gaydar going WHOOP!WHOOP!WHOOP! who were speculating about Farley Granger. … Read Wiki. You’re vindicated in a way. Granger was bisexual. He had affairs with Ava Gardner, Shelley Winters, & al. but his long-time love was Robert Calhoun.

Wikipedia entry for STRANGERS ON A TRAIN

July 10, 2009

I’ve never had a problem with drugs, only with policemen.

Filed under: books,music,people,quotation — Towse @ 1:12 am

Keith Richards.

Jessica Pallington West has a book out, What Would Keith Richards Do? Daily Affirmations From a Rock and Roll Survivor, from whence the title gem came.

Amazon info but no free reads inside the book. Alas.

June 13, 2009

The Book Seer

Filed under: books,URL — Towse @ 6:13 pm

The Book Seer

Entertaining. Tell it what book you just finished reading (assuming, of course, that you liked the book) and it will tell you what and LibraryThing think you should read next (assuming, of course, that you want to read something similar).

June 6, 2009

Naked, Drunk, and Writing – Adair Lara

Filed under: books,commentary,people,writing — Towse @ 5:32 pm

Naked, Drunk, and Writing: writing essays and memoirs for love and money by Adair Lara. [an Amazon click]

Adair Lara was talking about her new book this past Wednesday at Book Passage, Corte Madera. (She also teaches classes there on occasion.)

I mentioned her appearance on Facebook (although I didn’t drive across the bridge to see her) and added

Adair Lara wrote a column for the Chronicle … until she didn’t. I liked the column. Miss her.

A sample of her column work.

Fun thing about Amazon is that you can (often) poke into a book and see how it begins. On the first page of Lara’s new book, I read

If I even think about writing, I find myself in the pantry eating cereal straight from the box. Writing is a scary, vulnerable, and in a way conceited act, one that says the words you set down are worth a stranger’s time to read, and that this is a worthy use of your own time.

I may take Lara’s book to Camp to read, even if I’m not intending to write a memoir any time soon. …

April 23, 2009

The classic Alice B. Toklas recipe

Filed under: books,food,history,recipes,writers,writing — Towse @ 9:46 pm

I found a good home for my softcover edition of The ALICE B. TOKLAS COOKBOOK. I have an older, hardcover, first edition that I intend to keep but, really, there aren’t many differences ‘twixt these two.

One difference, the newer edition has a foreword by MFK Fisher.

One other crucial difference, for those of us who spent our young adult years in the sixties and seventies, this edition contains the recipe that (for legal reasons) the publisher could not include in the first edition. Yes, the recipe for Haschich Fudge — no, not brownies … fudge, even though the talk was always of Alice B. Toklas brownies.

The Haschich Fudge recipe is not a Toklas original, but rather came to Toklas from painter and film-maker Brion Gysin, according to the notes.

Haschich Fudge (which anyone could whip up on a rainy day)

This is the food of Paradise — of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises: it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. In Morocco it is thought to be good for warding off the common cold in damp winter weather and is, indeed, more effective if taken with large quantities of mint tea. Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement reveillé.’

Take 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of coriander. These should be pulverised in a mortar. About a handful each of stoned dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together. A bunch of canibus sativa [sic] can be pulverised. This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together. About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter. Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care. Two pieces are quite sufficient.

Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognised, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes. It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.

Now that I’ve saved the recipe (although for what reason I don’t know), I can pass the copy of the later edition on to someone who will give it a good home.

April 17, 2009

Before I give it to the Friends of the Library

Filed under: books — Towse @ 7:22 pm

let me just mention that TRANQUILITY WITHOUT PILLS: all about Transcendental Meditation by Jhan Robbins and David Fisher (1972) is a thinly-disguised advertisement for TM and has not much of anything with practical application.

Oh, it talks (vaguely) about what happens in classes. It has testimonials from happy campers. It also has “do not do this at home alone” sorts of warnings and “come in for your free first sessions” come-ons and “you really need to get the Real Authorized training or don’t even bother” notes.

Don’t bother reading it if you’re looking for any substance.

New book trailer from Mary Jane Maffini

Filed under: books,writers — Towse @ 6:07 pm

Mary Jane Maffini and I met over dinner at Left Coast Crime. She’d arrived in Hawaii from Canada and was hungry. I’d arrived from California and was hungry. Why not share a table?

We exchanged names and stories. I told her that I’d almost been named “Mary Jane” by my parents after a distant ancestress. Turns out one of her sleuths is named MacPhee. A name in my family tree too. Zounds. Who couldn’t like someone as nice as Maffini, who is also probably a cousin if we go back far enough?

MJM just posted a link on Facebook to her new book trailer.

April 15, 2009

The 18 most memorable movie library scenes in honor of National Library Week

Filed under: books,libraries,movies — Towse @ 10:45 pm

The 18 most memorable movie library scenes in honor of National Library Week

Library of Congress proudly twitters that they nab two of the spots!

April 14, 2009

Robert J Sawyer @ Borderlands Books

Filed under: books,bookstores,photographs,writers,writing — Towse @ 6:41 am


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No, actually. That’s Ripley, Borderlands Books‘ hairless cat.

Ripley sat in my lap purring and snoozing during Sawyer’s talk and was reluctant to leave it when the presentation was over.

We hied off to Foreign Cinema afterwards for a late dinner, Sawyer having signed my copy of WAKE before the event kicked off.

Check out the book and the other seventeen books and zillions of short fiction items Sawyer has written.

The pilot for a FLASH FORWARD series is up for consideration in the next few days. Good luck to Sawyer on that.

After dinner at Foreign Cinema it was home again home again via the #14 Mission and the #30 Stockton, and a quarter mile walk up Telegraph Hill and home. The transit connections, though, were perfect. Maybe a four minute wait for the #14 and another four minute wait for the #30. Can’t get much better than that. Thanks, Muni.

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