In 1993 writer/director Jane Campion won an Oscar for her screenplay The Piano. This film was not your typical Hollywood drama. It was a little off-center. Some thought it a little too quirky.
If you like quirky, you'll love this BBC 7-episode miniseries: Top of the Lake which was directed by Campion. It stars Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss as a damaged Australian homicide detective, who while visiting her cancer-ridden mother, is assigned to investigate the disappearence of a 13-yr old girl who has a deeply imbedded secret.
The performances are top-notch. . .especially those by Academy Award winner Holly Hunter and War Horse's Peter Mullan. The scenery is breathtaking and the humor is ebony. This program is the equivalent of a page-turner. Make certain that you have plenty of popcorn before putting it into the DVD player.
When asked to name historical figures who influenced America, everyone can name George Washington, Samuel L. Clemens, and Henry Ford. But what about Dorthea Dix, who exposed the harsh treatment of the mentaly ill in the 1800s, ᎾᏅᏰᎯ who with other members of the Cherokee tribal council fought for peaceful relations with European-Americans, or Grace Murray Hopper, whose work became the bassis of the computer language COBOL?
I genuenly enjoyed Charlotte Waisman's Her Story, which highlights the awesome, varied, and often unrecognized contributions of over 900 women throughout U.S. history, beginning in the 1500s and spanning all the way through 2011. For lovers of American history, feminists, or even the simply curious, Her Story is a fantastic book that I can't recommend enough!
"You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?"
A.J. Fikry is a cranky, opinionated bookstore owner who has had a recent string of bad luck. His wife has died in a tragic car accident, sales at his bookstore are down (possibly because he only sells what he likes), and his prized possession, a rare collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe has been stolen. A.J. feels that his only solution is to further isolate himself from the residents of Alice Island and slowly drink himself into oblivion.
When a mysterious package is left at the bookstore, A.J. is given the rare opportunity to start over. He slowly begins to open up and allow himself relationships both with people who live on the island and even a few who don't.
A book about books, all types of love, and community.
A man's body is found beaten and bruised under an abandoned Yorkshire railway bridge. The first police on scene rule it a suicide, but are unsure when they find 5,000 pounds in the victims' pocket. DCI Alan Banks is called in and after further inspection the man is found to be a former professor who was fired due to a sketchy sex scandal.
Inspector Banks and detective Annie Cabot follow the leads which lead to Lady Chalmers, a former Marxist and now famous author and member of an aristocratic and politically connected family. Banks and Cabot find out that the victim and Lady Chalmers were once former students and activists together at University.
Martin Strauss has a severe memory disorder. His doctor explains that he will get increasingly worse. Strangely, Martin will not just lose his true memories, but he will also "remember" things that never happened. Adding to his psychological discomfort, Martin is disturbed by his guilt. He was the man who punched Harry Houdini, causing his death.
While this is a mysterious historical fiction about the life and death of Houdini, it is also about the fictional character Martin Strauss who struggles with anxiety, uncertainty, guilt, and regret. So, pretty much, the human condition. Martin Strauss and Harry Houdini cross paths repeatedly in a twisting story of reality and illusion. It is an exciting and suspenseful novel, but also a pleasure for a fan of Houdini. Among the many wild speculations and fictionalizations, there is some solid fact about the life of the brilliant illusionist. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his spiritual medium wife make a cameo. And by the end, the reader has been lead on a crazy, fun journey with a surprising and meaningful ending.
Clarissa is being stalked, and like most victims, she knows her stalker. She even has vague memories of intimacy between them, but her memories fade following the time she and Rafe left the bar. She is about to find out what happened that night, courtesy of some very personal pictures her stalker has been hoarding…
The Book of You, the debut novel by Claire Kendal, recounts the events following the one night Clarissa spends with Rafe after being discarded by her married lover. Clarissa anxiously attempts to piece together the events of the night, but her memories are cloudy. She becomes a prisoner in her home and finds respite in her appointment to a seven week jury deliberating a rape and assault case. But there is nowhere to hide; she is observed and confronted by Rafe wherever she goes.
Clarissa wavers between indecision and purposeful action as we witness her resolve to end this nightmare. The “you” in this story is Rafe, and Clarissa is chronicling every moment and every action of his assault on her. Will she gather enough evidence to justify police involvement, or is she too late?
Explore the depths of desperation in this tense, psychological thriller by an engaging new author.
“Please sit,” Sachi said, pointing to the cushions by the low black lacquer table. Then she disappeared into the kitchen, only to reappear a few moments later carrying two cups of tea. “You must be cold and thirsty after your long walk.”
I took the small clay cup from her and sipped from it. The warm, slightly bitter tea soothed my dry throat. I smiled, looked up, and asked, “Is everything all right?”
“Has Matsu-san led you to believe otherwise?” she asked.
“He said very little.”
Sachi laughed softly and sipped her tea. “It is just like Matsu,” she said, shaking her head. She sat down at the table across from me. “Matsu didn’t want to tell you that I could no longer go down to Tarumi. My presence there has brought great dishonor to all of you.” (Page 74-75)
Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden gives insight on the effect of love and affection to overcome our sorrows and confronts us with the many challenges and hardships of personal loneliness. One of the three main characters of the book is Stephen who is a college student in Canton, China near the beginning of World War II. Stephen contracts tuberculosis and is sent by his parents to live in a small Japanese village near the ocean to recover. In the small village of Tarumi, he is living in his grandparents’ home and being cared for by Matsu the servant and caretaker of the house. Matsu, the second central character, is very quiet and efficient and at first does not allow Stephen close. The third main character of the book is Sachi who has leprosy and must live in a secluded leper colony. As the story progresses, we learn about the connection between Matsu and Sachi. As they get to know Stephen, who though ill has great enthusiasm and love for the life he is discovering in Tarumi, Matsu and Sachi open up to this new friendship. Stephen tells the story in the form of a journal he is keeping. As he reflects on his parents’ relationship, his sister, the many hardships suffered by Sachi and Matsu, Stephen grows up and matures. It is a thought-provoking and heartwarming story.
It is 1945, Tokyo, a month after Japan’s surrender in WWII. Francis Van Cleave is a private in the United States army attached to the Officers Personnel Section, a sort of military secretarial pool.
Van Cleave gets the attention of General Douglas MacArthur when he attends an Army-Navy football game screening at MacArthur’s home with other military personnel. This invitation comes as an unasked for favor by his roommate, Corporal Clifford, who serves in the Honor Guard Company, a division assigned to work as a personal escort for the general and visiting dignitaries. After sending MacArthur’s son, Arthur, a gift for his 8th birthday, Van Cleave begins an unusual assignment, almost an order, to visit the MacArthur’s home on a weekly basis to spend time with the boy.
Van Cleave is young, naïve, and receives unwanted news from his new wife back home. We see a side of life the military men partake in in their off-time not knowing the language, the culture, and still finding a way to get themselves into trouble. Michael Knight tells a story that is rooted in history but surrounds it with rich invented detail.
This story made me wonder whatever happened to Arthur MacArthur?
It’s May, which means Mother’s Day is around the corner. Last year, Time Out ranked the most classic movie mothers of all time. Given their top billing is Mommie Dearest, it’s safe to say that these movie moms may not all be ideal role models. Maybe this Mother’s Day, you could check one of these out to watch with your mom—and don’t forget the chocolate.
“We are all refugees from our childhoods. And so we turn, among other things, to stories. To write a story, is to be a refugee from the state of refugees. Writers and readers seek a solution to the problem that time passes, that those who have gone are gone and those who will go, which is to say every one of us, will go. For there was a moment when anything was possible. And there will be a moment when nothing is possible. But in between we can create.”
If you’re looking for a twist of genre, this is the right book for you. It gets its style from the self-help books which are popular among youths around “rising Asia”. What is fascinating about this book is you will not learn the character’s names. You will never know the main character’s profession - how exactly he gets rich in “rising Asia”. You will not even become aware of what Asian country the book is set in. However, Mohsin Hamid's style keeps you reading. The entire book is written in second person, so it takes you aback since it seems to be talking about you. Without knowing specifics, the author takes you through 8 decades of the main character’s life in 228 pages. The book seems to be both specific & broad at the same time (if that even seems possible).
If you’re looking for a new spin on fiction & don’t mind a little strong language, you might like this one. This is one of the most innovative works of fiction I've read this year.
Mohsin Hamid is also the author of the award-winning Reluctant Fundamentalist.