Thursday, June 5, 2014
I had two jolts to my worldview on Sunday, via the New York Times. In the City section, there was an article about a woman chronicling the history of Bank Street. Among the illustrious New Yorkers mentioned, she knew Edward Tanner's real-life aunt, who was the basis for his character Auntie Mame. She described Miss Tanner as unkempt, and missing several teeth. How could this be possible? Anyone raised on movies and musicals knows that Auntie Mame started as Rosalind Russell, morphed into Angela Lansbury and finally became Lucille Ball. Not a shabby snaggle-tooth!
Still there was more disillusionment to come. In junior high school, my friends and I avidly passed a copy of Go Ask Alice among us. We were, I expect, much less sophisticated than teenagers are these days. To us, Go Ask Alice was about drugs and sex and getting out from under parental authority- all exciting things to contemplate. It was the subject matter, not the style (I could figure that out even back then) that allured us. The Bookends column in the Book Review revealed that it was not written by a real teenager who died of an overdose, but "Beatrice M. Sparks, a therapist and Mormon youth counselor."
Next thing you know, I'll find out there's no Santy Claus.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
I finished reading Simon Mawer's Trapeze last night. It could not be more different from Mendel's Dwarf, which I also enjoyed (you wouldn't think that a novel about the origins of genetics could be that compelling, but you'd be wrong). Trapeze is about Marian Sutro, a young British woman who grew up in French-speaking Geneva, Switzerland. She is recruited by the World War II equivalent of MI6. Her mission is to make contact with and try to help a nuclear physicist escape from Nazi-occupied Paris. The writing is beautiful, carefully researched (yes, I can tell) and Marian is a character whom you understand and root for. Some less skillful novelist would cheat the ending, but Mawer doesn't. The story ends just as it must.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
I am fifty pages from the end of Swamplandia! by Karen Russell. I had a hard time getting into it (I started it and put it aside last fall). But about 75 pages in, it takes off. The author is remarkable in her ability to go from the real to dream world and back again, and making it look completely effortless. The two main characters, Ava and Kiwi, are equally compelling in their individual ways. It also reminds me very much of a playwright I knew at La Mama Umbria who had a day job as a mermaid, and referred to her tail as "the uni-fin."
Illustration: Blexbolex, via the New York Times
Saturday, March 8, 2014
"The Skull Beneath the Skin" is back by popular demand next weekend- Saturday, March 15 at 5:30 and 7PM at 440 Gallery, 440 Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Admission is free. It features Cotton Wright and Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum, pictured above, as Bertha Roentgen and Dr. Wilhelm Roentgen, the man who discovered xrays and won the first Nobel Prize in Physics.
The play is written by me, directed by Christie Clark and the costume design is by the illustrious Meganne George. It's being produced by Ellen Chuse, as part of her solo show of drawings and paintings, Finding the Root.
Photo by Tom Bovo.
I am reading this wonderful, touching novel by Elizabeth Jenkins. It's not mentioned in her Times obituary (she died in 2010). It's the story of the unraveling marriage of Evelyn and Imogen Gresham. Evelyn is a successful lawyer, Imogen is a housewife and mother, about to pack her only child off to school. They are temperamentally diametrically opposed. Evelyn become distracted by and besotted with their neighbor, the heiress Blanche Silcox.
There is a harsh introduction by Helen McNeil, which denigrates Imogen's character as a passive doormat. But I don't see her that way. She knows that her marriage is falling apart, and there really isn't much she can do about it, other than watch it happen; Evelyn is not the type of man to respond well to a "Modern Woman," whatever than meant in 1954. Imogen is a sad case, not a victim.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tom Bovo has a solo photography show, Genius Loci, at 440 Gallery (440 Sixth Avenue, near Ninth Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn). He commissioned me to write a play for it.
Performances are Saturday, November 16 at the gallery at 4:40 and 6 PM. Admission is free. Wine and seltzer provided.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
It's late in the day, but I wanted to commemorate Julius Henry Marx's birthday. Groucho would be 123. Is there any movie moment so great as his "Captain Spaulding" dance?