Anyway, I'm flagging this right now as having nothing to do at all with books. But:
1. Susan Boyle was sort of a shocking anomaly. All around the world we watched an initially disgusted audience learn ugly people can be talented. By now, people should have learned that lesson, and so the shock of a woman being able to sing while also having a cleft palate and thinning hair should have worn off.
2. Just me, or was paragon of talent David Hasselhoff really quick to cheer her on? Like he had watched the Susan Boyle tape many times and knew he didn't want to look like he was going to fall off his chair. He decided that, if a similar incident arose, he was going to be the first judge to recognize her talents?
3. Ok, seriously, is there something wrong with us as a society? I don't want to moan too much, and I realize I'm just rehashing the comments of virtually every popular culture critic in the universe. But seriously. When we're little kids we're told you can't judge a book by its cover. We're told what you look like shouldn't be relevant to how you think or how you feel or how you connect with people. And we've lost that. We've lost it so much, in fact, that we need reality TV -- where people eat bugs to net a million dollars or subject their families to 24-hour camera crews to net fame -- to teach us. And even then, a not-traditionally-attractive person better be super, super talented. Because if they're just mildly talented, unable to hit the soaring notes set by Celine Dion or whomever, then really they deserve our initial horrified assessment.
It is a guarantee that whenever it is announced that a popular book is being turned into a movie, white people will get upset. This is partly due to their fear that something they love will be made accessible to more people and thus enjoyed by more people which immediately decreases the amount of joy a white person can feel towards the original property. Yes, it’s complicated....
In other news, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Nope, kid you not. Yes, I'll try not to judge a book by its cover (TSS). Although I can maybe judge a little for just blatantly rehashing the same idea later in the same year, no? It would be like someone riffing on brilliant title to go here by creating pretty good title to go here.
Or not, since my blog has yet to net millions of dollars.
(I must admit this is a rather fitting end for Willoughby, no?)
I'm really, really sorry if I'm boring you with my London updates. Quickly, on books:
Cassandra and Jane is really good if you happen to be an Austen fan. Say, if you spent a portion of your Saturday afternoon at the London Literature Festival listening to how difficult and wonderful it is to work with Austen's texts to make movies and other books.
Okay, well maybe you don't have to be that big a fan.
But you should probably like Austen and be sort of familiar with her history (may I suggest Carol Shields' brief biography?). Because for all that Jill Pitkeathley is clearly riffing her own take on Austen and the relationship she shared with her sister, her take isn't really all that different from the official history. Which is kind of a surprise if you take a skim through other books on offer from Harper's historical fiction titles:
Revenge of the Rose -- "In a court of the Holy Roman Emperor, not even a knight is safe from gossip, schemes, and secrets."
The Fool's Tale -- "Travel back to Wales, 1198, a time of treachery, political unrest...and passion."
The Scroll of Seduction -- "A dual narrative of love, obsession madness, and betrayal surrounding one of history's most controversial monarchs, Juana the Mad."
See? So it's kind of shocking how tame Cassandra and Jane is. However, given the depth of love so many fans have of their Jane, Pitkeathley probably played it pretty close to facts for her own safety. Rather than a love story that would throw question on whether Miss Austen did in fact die a virgin, Pitkeathley opts to tell a tale of sisterly love in a first-person narrative from Cassandra's point of view.
My other travel companion in the last couple weeks has been Novel Destinations, a birthday gift from a dear friend. I can't possibly get to even half the places the book notes in London and England alone, but it's really just the start of a life journey.
Bought? Well, so far I've been really good about keeping my wallet in my purse.... Knowledge the pound continues to outstrip the Canadian dollar by nearly 2:1 helps. But I couldn't resist Let's Call the Whole Thing Off, an inspired collection of break-up tales I found at the South Bank Book Market that's perfect for reading before I go to sleep after I've toiled through hours of studying....
Yes. Yes I am supposed to be toiling right now.
But quickly: The London Literature Festival. My new favourite thing. Even though it wasn't exactly packed with people on the weekend. And the Austen industry talk featured at least two women sitting in the front row who gasped, giggled and sighed whenever they agreed with or were shocked by presenters' words. They were particularly agog by the idea someone might mash up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. (Which, by the way, has now been published in 22 languages and 37 countries, leading to a spike, too, in sales of the original book. Still, harrumph on principle.)
A Wuthering Heights seminar saw more people in attendance, but mostly because there is a new British mini-series expected out in the fall, and members of the press were invited out to see clips of the film and hear from the screenplay writer.
What was so interesting, to me, was how writers can work towards taking apart the original manuscripts and rebuilding them. Wuthering Heights, particularly, presents a problem because of the style of narrative, the two characters who tell the story but aren't really part of it. The screenwriter said he literally had three copies of the book, one of which he took a knife to in order to break apart the story and reorganize chronologically in order to navigate the tale.
Not initially a fan of Wuthering Heights -- I still think it presents a hero only infatuated teenage girls could truly love -- the evening discussion had me reconsidering. I never thought of Cathy and Heathcliff's children as the rays of hope, as the real hero and heroine of the novel....
I do wonder about the idea every generation needs its own Pride and Prejudice, or its own Wuthering Heights. Perhaps this is the line of thinking born of having a broadcast community almost wholly funded by the government?
Meanwhile, I should really get my hands on an old text to manipulate and reform as my own....
(Nope, no books bought. I'm spending way too much time with school books and spending carefully. On tickets to the stage production of Dirty Dancing. Which, no, isn't very good. Although the final three or four scenes and fantastic live band make up for many of the failures of an unsurprisingly poor script.)
By the way, you'll note a picture of a monument to my.... right? Hopefully? I'm such a dunce when it comes to website layout. Even though blogspot makes it as easy as humanly possible.... Anyway, that's a monument to journalism!
I know, that evaluation makes me a bad person. But really, we're not all Susan Boyle. Sorry. The Guardian's been much more charitable.
(You're wondering right now whether you can not only watch the Plinth live from home, but also Twitter monitor, right? Why yes. You can.)
See, when you come to Bangalore, and stop at a traffic light, some boy will run up to your car and knock on your window, while holding up a bootlegged copy of an American business book, wrapped carefully in cellophane and with a title like:TEN SECRETS OF BUSINESS SUCCESS! or BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR IN SEVEN EASY DAYS!
So begins, pretty much, last year’s Booker Prize winner, and your next selection for The Little Book Club That Could, the date for which is Yet To Be Set.