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Two Books and a Play

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My book club decided to read Ian McEwan’s The Children Act, chosen because not one of us seven had already read it. As I’m not a fan of McEwan’s writing and I didn’t want to buy it in hardcover… I went to my neighborhood library, the St. Agnes branch.  I haven’t been there in years.  I found a line of 30 people at the desk and no one to answer questions.  The first floor was all children’s books and there was an endless staircase upward – and I mean endless – but no sign saying what was to be found upstairs, and no sign directing to an elevator, and did I say, no one to answer a question.

I left, making myself a promise that when I give my annual donation to the New York Public Library, I will never again mark it for the St. Agnes branch.

Okay, what to do about The Children Act?  Download to your Kindle, you say?  Well, I don’t own one.  I like to turn real pages when I read at night.  I like to hold a real book.  Enter my tech friend Leonardo.  She says, “You can download the Kindle software to your computer and read the book when you want to. Don’t you remember I told you?”  I’m sure she must have told me, but when she talks to me about technical stuff, I only retain what is currently important to me.

So, I downloaded the free software, and read it on the computer.  And, surprise, I really liked The Children Act. 

I also read Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation (in trade paper, at night, turning the pages).  It’s a gem. A gem.

My Canadian theater critic friend Lynn Slotkin (The Slotkin Letter) and I went to Lincoln Center to see The Mystery of Love & Sex at the Mitzi Newhouse.  A rave in The NYTimes.  Author, Bathsheba Doran.  Great resume. Name actors in it: Diane Lane and Tony Shalhoub.

Eeeeeks!  Of course, all art is subjective … But really, I don’t get it.  Why was this mounted, and by Lincoln Center Theater, no less?  At the very least, workshop it. My friend Slotkin is kinder than I am. Her review will be up on her site very soon.

The luminous Diane Lane, who has not been on stage in years, totally disappears.  Tony Shalhoub plays Tony Shalhoub.  Maybe it’s the director’s fault.  No question, it’s the director’s fault. Afterward, Slotkin and I went to Rosa Mexicana and sat at the bar eating guacamole, while I ranted.  I had a glass of red.  I needed it.

From frozen tundra of Upper West Side …

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The New Yorker, Feb 25-Mar 2 issue, has an essay by New Yorker copyeditor Mary Norris that delighted this former high school English teacher. It was a treatise on the comma. What joy. Reminded me how I insisted on teaching my college preps how to diagram a sentence.

Last Saturday night, I was listening to Jonathan Schwartz on NPR, as he celebrated the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth. He played Sinatra, then he said that Bob Dylan had recorded some Sinatra songs as a tribute. Dylan fanatics, turn your eyes away. Dylan singing Sinatra? Ghastly, beyond ghastly. Like listening to an emery board. Made me shudder. Had to turn off the radio. Hey, does anyone remember the jazz musician Chet Baker? Trumpet. Vocals. Died too young. Drugs. But oh, how he could sing My Funny Valentine.

I just finished Danish crime writer Jussi Adler-Olsen’s :A Conspiracy of Faith. It’s the second of his Department Q series that I’ve read, and it was pleasure. The writing is eccentric and unique. I am now settling (?) down with Richard Price’s The Whites. I love his writing.

Today in New York

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I am a huge fan of British crime writer Mo Hayder. I buy her books in hard cover when they come out. I don’t get to read them right away, so I’m a little late in reading Gone. This one is a knock-out, the best crime novel I’ve read lately. And already sitting on top of the stack of books to read next, Poppet.

I am a sucker for American history (not shocking if anyone’s read the Maan Meyers’ novels). So when the History Channel did a three episode miniseries on the beginning of the Revolution, The Sons of Liberty, I recorded it, but it took this long, cold winter, when ghastly weather kept me locked in the apartment, for me to finally watch it. Yes, it’s a little corny, but I love our early history. It’s dismaying how little young people know about it. I’d like to see this miniseries played in every school.

The New York Times decided to update their Sunday Magazine to attract, I think, younger readers, who probably don’t buy and wouldn’t read it. I say this because I have the Times delivered every day and read it through, the paper version, not the online version. I am not a millennial. The much advertised first issue last Sunday was unreadable. I’m holding out hope for the second issue.

Welcome to the blog!

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A blog. Good grief. Here I am, finally. I’ve wanted to have a blog for years, and asked my friend Leonardo to help me. But I couldn’t get the name I wanted – ranting lady – and life moved on. So, when my new website designer asked me if I wanted a blog, I said, Oh boy, do I.

I’m going to talk (write) about what I read, what I see, life in general. I may even rant a little.