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The Big House

On separate occasions over the last couple weeks, two of my grandchildren have asserted:  “My house is bigger than yours.” Perhaps this is a twenty-first century equivalent to the claim from my era:  my dad is stronger than your dad!strong man

When the five-year old initially made the statement, I gently disagreed with him. “Yes, you live in a big house, but not as large as this one.” Factually, I was correct but this grandson would have none of it. Some weeks later, when my four-year old granddaughter posited the identical suggestion, I admitted the possibility. (She does live in a larger home than the grandson.) Continue Reading →

Southern Romantic

A couple days ago, I posted in this space about the suggestion by a film critic and New York Post columnist to banish one of my favorite all-time books, Gone With the Wind, arguing it was one more remnant of racist history. Seventy-nine years ago today, GWTW debuted on bookstands.Gone_with_the_Wind_cover

The author, Margaret Mitchell, hoped the book would sell 5,000 copies. To her surprise, during a single day in the summer of 1936, 50,000 copies were sold. The book was her only published novel, earning her the National Book Award for Most Distinguished Novel of 1936 as well as the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937. Not bad for a first novel, huh? Continue Reading →

Here Lies . . .

FROM:  http://tiny.cc/4pktzx

FROM: http://tiny.cc/4pktzx

Two-thousand-fifteen is the centennial year marking the publication of the curious (though largely forgotten) volume of poems titled Spoon River Anthology.

Written by poet Edgar Lee Masters, the book is a collection of short poems (epitaphs) relating the lives of fictional small town characters (mingled with poems by several true-life figures) who share the same location … they’re buried in the Spoon River cemetery.

Except for the introductory poem, each poem/epitaph is written in the first person, each departed individual telling his or her story from the grave. The poems were initially a series of compositions published in a literary journal.

These compositions eventually became the anthology. Masters published numerous other works including biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain and others. However, the Spoon River Anthology appears to have been his most notable and enduring work. Continue Reading →

Lyin’ Eyes

Written in 1975 by Don Henley and Glenn Frey of the Eagles, the song Lyin’ Eyes was nominated for Record of the Year. In concerts following the song’s release, Henley and Frey shared that the song originated when they witnessed a curious encounter in an LA bar. They imagined the scene as an illicit love affair between the man and woman; soon after, the song was born.lying eyesLyrics from the song came to mind today as I was mulling over revelations about Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist and current president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington. Though most of the song’s lyrics refer to a bar romance, the verse shown below could apply to almost any entanglement in which a woman might find herself.

She wonders how it ever got this crazy …
She thinks about a boy she knew in school.
Did she get tired, or did she just get lazy?
She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool.

In case you’re unaware of the predicament of Rachel Dolezal, you’ll find here and here two articles that fill in the details. Perhaps neither Frey nor Henley could have imagined their lyrics might be tied to such a tangled tale! Continue Reading →

We’ll Always Have Paris

When movie critics and cinema aficionados talk about what they consider the top 100 best movies of all time – at least according to their individual standards – the 1942 film Casablanca usually scores high. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as Rick Blaine and Ilsa Lund, the movie is set during World War II as the Nazis are tightening their grip on north Africa.casablanca

Filmed in black and white, readers of the LA Daily News voted in 1997 that Casablanca was the greatest. In Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, it’s deemed the “best Hollywood movie of all time.” It’s number two on the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies, number six on The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Favorite Films, and number thirty on the IMDb Top 250 Movies of All Time list. Continue Reading →

Manufactured Outrage

Over the course of many years, I’ve come to realize writers are a rather strange subgroup of the human race. I count myself in that number and readily admit my strangeness … uniqueness, that’s the term I prefer. Actually, I’ve heard it said all creative people are strange, slightly off-center. Maybe so. When I hear of the strange things other writers do, I tend to shake my head and roll my eyes. Then I go on with my life … and my writing.Place, Vanessa

Here’s one example of the strangeness I’ve observed. The Twitter profile (shown above) belongs to a woman named Vanessa Place. (Her name appears just underneath the left-side photo of actress Hattie McDaniel.) From what I’ve read, Place uses this Twitter account for the purpose of tweeting – 140 characters at a time, plus or minus – the entire text of Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone With the Wind. I suppose one might argue this is an artistic expression and benign protest by which she registers her disgust with the racial stereotypes portrayed in the 1936 novel. Continue Reading →

Heroes Or Villains?

The trailer for the DC Comics superhero film, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is a hot item this weekend. Watch the trailer here. As a one-time fan of both Batman (the Christian Bale film series from 2005-forward) and Superman (the George Reeves television series of the 1950s), I’m not particularly enthusiastic about forthcoming productions. For me, I want my superheroes to remain the way I remember them.superman batmanThe upcoming film was originally set to release in 2014 and then was delayed to be released this year but was once again pushed back, this time until 2016. The delays are puzzling and the story line has been, so far as I can tell, kept under wraps but the title is intriguing. Are Batman and Superman going to participate in the ultimate challenge and meet face to face in the UFC Octagon? Continue Reading →

Fire in the Hole

Saying goodbye … it’s an inevitable part of life. When one says goodbye to fictional characters, it shouldn’t be a wrenching loss – unless the characters are so well-drawn and true to life, they’ve become embedded in your life. This kind of goodbye doesn’t just represent a closed book of characters but also the way in which these characters have colored one’s point of view.justified-season-2_shootThe FX Network show Justified aired its finale last night following a six-season run. Truthfully, I hated to have the show end, but its final episode hit every note with perfect pitch and stunning narrative grace notes. Without giving away any spoilers, I can’t imagine any show ending with better symmetry and poetic precision. Continue Reading →

What Does Cinderella Do?

Thanks to the recent release of Disney’s live-action movie, Cinderella, there’s been a resurgent popularity for the romantic fairy tale. In a February post, I mentioned my enthusiasm for the upcoming (at that time) movie and my eagerness to see it. (I’m hopeful to catch it this coming weekend.)
Unfortunately, from about the 1960s and forward, the Cinderella mythology fell out of favor because the feminist dogma unofficially rejected her as an undesirable sexist stereotype. Google “feminism and Cinderella” and numerous posts result, many of which attempt to provide a new take on this formerly discarded fairy tale heroine.
Continue Reading →

A Tale of Elsa and Fred

In an earlier post, I referred to the film, The Sound of Music, which marks its fiftieth anniversary big screen release this month. Vanity Fair magazine‘s most recent issue notes the anniversary with an amusing interview of both Maria (Julie Andrews) and Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Having enjoyed friendship for these fifty years, the aging pair (she’s 79, he’s 85) reflect a genuine affection, exchanging what VF describes as the “well-worn patter of an old married couple.chris-maria

As someone who has watched the film multiple times, I found the VF feature enlightening. Never having delved any deeper into details about the film, I didn’t know Plummer’s antipathy for the film was so ingrained. Watching him on the screen in that film, I always assumed his general aloofness was the result of a director’s instructions for him to play the part that way. Reading the VF piece, I see now it was actually a reflection of Plummer’s overall distaste for the project! Continue Reading →

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