Friday, May 23, 2008

Time Travelers Wife Hits the Silver Screen

For those of you who have read it... we can only hope the movie lives up to the book. If you haven't....Oh you really should, it is so very, very good!

What do you do when you meet the love of your life when you're six years old? And he's 36, but he's really only eight years older than you are? If you're ClareAbshire, you wait for each of his visits throughout the years until you meet him in real time.

Henry DeTamble is a time traveler, although not by choice. A genetic mutation causes him to spontaneously travel through time, disappearing from view, leaving behind his clothes and possessions, and arriving naked in another time and another place.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Nuala O’Faolain, 68, Irish Memoirist, Is Dead

Here's another death to report....aren't we cheerful today??? Nuala O’Faolain, 68, Irish Memoirist, Is Dead Nuala O’Faolain, an Irish journalist who mined a rich vein of longing and childhood suffering in two midlife memoirs and an acclaimed first novel, “My Dream of You,” died on Friday night in Dublin. She was 68 and lived in Barrtra, County Clare, Ireland, and Manhattan.

Often seen as a feminine (and feminist) counterpart to Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes,” Ms. O’Faolain’s first memoir, “Are You Somebody?,” created a sensation on its publication in Ireland in 1996. Her unblinking, unsentimental description of Irish life in the 1940s and ’50s, and her loveless, impoverished home, where she grew up the second of nine children, struck a chord with Irish readers and went on to sell well in Britain and the United States.

Nuala O’Faolain (pronounced oh-FWAY-lawn) grew up in the countryside near Dublin in shabbily bohemian circumstances. Her father, who wrote a newspaper society column under the pen name Terry O’Sullivan, spent his nights on the town in Dublin. “He was a dapper, clever, reticent man and he treated the family as if he had met them at a cocktail party,” Ms. O’Faolain wrote. Her mother, a voracious reader and a romantic who never wanted children, sank into despair and alcoholism, to which her mostly absent husband turned a blind eye.

Two of her brothers eventually died of alcoholism. She is survived by six brothers and sisters, Grainne O’Broin, Deirdre Brady and Terry O’Faolain, all of Dublin; Noreen, of London; Marian, of Westport, Ireland; and Niamh, of Tarbert, Ireland. She is also survived by her partner, John Low-Beer of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ms. O’Faolain inherited her mother’s hunger for love and her father’s flair for journalism. After attending a convent school in the north of Ireland — she had been expelled from her first school for sneaking off to dances to meet boys — she studied English at University College, Dublin, and medieval English literature at the University of Hull before earning a postgraduate degree in English from Oxford.
She then returned to University College as a lecturer in the English department. “I had no sense of being at the start of a career,” she later wrote. “My aim in life was something to do with loving and being loved.”

Shortly before her death, Ms. O’Faolain gave a spirited, tearful interview on Ireland’s most popular radio program in which she reflected on life, love and her impending death. “I thought there would be me and the world, but the world turned its back on me,” she said. “The world said to me, ‘That’s enough of you now, and what’s more, we’re not going to give you any little treats at the end.’ ”

Eye-Opener: A Blind Man’s Rare Opportunity to See

Will a blind person be improved by gaining eyesight, or will an already-complete person become impaired in unexpected ways?

With his first book, “Shadow Divers,” Robert Kurson told the endlessly interesting
story of how divers discovered a mysterious sunken submarine off the coast of New Jersey. “Shadow Divers” also had the human-interest elements of the divers’ bravado and the sub disaster’s casualties to explore. Mr. Kurson set a very high bar for his next nonfiction endeavor.

UGH! No word on who is in it yet!

Robert Kurson
A True Story of Risk, Adventure and the Man Who Dared to See
By Robert Kurson
Illustrated. 306 pages. Random House. $25.95.
“Crashing Through,” a book about much more personal and interior adventures. Mr. Kurson writes about Mike May, who was surely one of the world’s most enterprising blind people even before he embarked on a risky series of procedures to restore his vision. Mr. May lost his eyesight in a chemical explosion at the age of 3. He had gone on, among other things, to set the world’s speed record for a blind skier, climb a 175-foot ham-radio tower to make repairs and travel 85 miles by train, bus and taxi to take his future wife on their first date.
So Mr. May’s life was a can-do success story even before the idea of repaired eyesight became an option. “Crashing Through,” which takes its title from the May style of dealing with any obstacle, describes the many innovative ways devised by Mr. May for moving through the world more vigorously than many sighted people do.
He lived in a remote Ghanaian village. He earned a graduate degree in international relations. He worked for the C.I.A. until it was decided that he could not be an inconspicuous spy. And he studied electrical engineering. “Blind electrical engineers were rare, which was one of the reasons he wanted to do it,” Mr. Kurson explains.
He worried about every risk that eye surgery would entail, including the impermanence of new vision and the use of a possible carcinogen to keep his body from rejecting corneal transplants. As he explained to his wife at the moment of decision, there was every good reason to refrain from taking this chance. The only reason to do it was curiosity.

“Crashing Through” becomes most interesting when the flaws in Mr. May’s new eyesight become apparent. He makes wondrous discoveries of things blind people never hear about — shadows, freckles, the movement and transparency of running water — but has more difficulty with the cognitive aspects of pattern recognition. He can see facial features but cannot decipher facial expressions.
Eventually the joy of sight fades for him and the investigatory challenges begin. Ingenious as ever, he finds ways to meld everything he has learned with everything new he can see, and to navigate the world imaginatively.

Michael May (center) was blinded at age three. Forty-two years later, a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery gave him his sight back. Above, on his first day of vision since childhood, May sees his sons for the first time.

Calif. winemaking patriarch Robert Mondavi dies

By MICHELLE LOCKE – 20 hours ago
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Robert Mondavi, the pioneering vintner who helped put California wine country on the map, died at his Napa Valley home Friday. He was 94. Mondavi died peacefully at his home in Yountville, Robert Mondavi Winery spokeswoman Mia Malm said.
Always convinced that California wines could compete with the European greats, Mondavi engaged in the first French-American wine venture when he formed a limited partnership with the legendary French vintner Baron Philippe de Rothschild to grow and make the ultra-premium Opus One at Oakville. The venture's first vintage was in 1979.
Mondavi was an enthusiastic ambassador for wine — especially California wine — and traveled the world into his 90s promoting the health, cultural
Later there was a bittersweet family moment when Robert and Peter Mondavi, aided by members of the younger generation, made wine together for the first time in 40 years. Using a 50-50 split of grapes from Robert Mondavi and Peter Mondavi family vineyards, the brothers made one barrel of a cabernet blend that sold for $401,000 at the 2005 Napa Valley wine auction.
The auction lot was called "Ancora Una Volta," or "Once Again."

Remembering Rober Mondavi

It happened slowly.

As news of Robert Mondavi’s passing spread through the valley Friday, the winery that bears his name canceled winery tours at 1 p.m. A half hour later, officials at the landmark Oakville winery closed the tasting room and set the winery’s three flags — the American flag, the California flag and the Italian flag — at half mast.
By 2 p.m. an employee set out cones at the entrance to the winery, alerting motorists that the winery was not open to the public.

Eric G. Morham, president of Icon Estates, which operates the Mondavi winery, said the winery will remain closed Saturday and Sunday out of respect for the Mondavi family. However, the grounds will remain open and people are welcome to come walk the grounds and pay their respects.
The winery will reopen Monday.

Morham said Mondavi’s death was unexpected and that Margrit Mondavi, his wife, was in London and would return to Napa Valley immediately.
“(Mondavi) had a vision that Napa Valley wines could stand in the company of the great wines of the world,” Morham said.

He said the family will hold a private service.

But in accordance with Mondavi's wishes, there will be “a big party” at the winery within weeks. A firm date has not been set. The memorial will be open to the public.

Even tourists who aren't immersed in Napa Valley culture understood the significance of Mondavi's death.

Deb Mertz of Connecticut said she was visiting Far Niente winery when she heard the news.

“I know he and his family are so important to the valley,” she said. “In reading some things to prepare to come here, it was obvious how much the family contributed to the area.”

Others, like Mike and Nicole Young of Las Vegas, were aware of Mondavi's reputation primarily through his wines. They said the quality of Mondavi's riesling inspired them to visit his winery.

Jim Silberman, visiting from New Jersey, learned of Mondavi’s death while at the winery.

“Our tour guide was telling us about the wines and mentioned this was one of Mr. Mondavi's favorites and he gets a tear in his eye, then later we heard he had died,” he said.

Ryan is interim city editor at the Register. Duarte is a staff writer for the St. Helena Star. Register Photo Editor J.L. Sousa contributed to this article.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Suite française

Several reviewers and commentators have raised questions regarding Némirovsky's attitude toward Jews, her generally negative depiction of Jews in her writing and her use of anti-semitic publications in advancing her career. A review of her work published in The New Republic states:
Némirovsky was the very definition of a self-hating Jew. Does that sound too strong? Well, here is a Jewish writer who owed her success in France entre deux guerres in no small measure to her ability to pander to the forces of reaction, to the fascist right. Némirovsky's stories of corrupt Jews-- some of them even have hooked noses, no less!--appeared in right-wing periodicals and won her the friendship of her editors, many of whom held positions of power in extreme-right political circles. When the racial laws in 1940 and 1941 cut off her ability to publish, she turned to those connections to seek special favors for herself, and even went so far as to write a personal plea to Marshal Pétain.


The name "Auschwitz" actually refers to a complex series of camps and sub-camps in southwest Poland. The photos below are of the camp known as "Auschwitz-I." The camp was ordered constructed in 1940 by Heinrich Himmler, the chief architect of the extermination of the Jews and second in command of Nazi Germany. Thousands of people were murdered in Auschwitz-I, but this particular camp was not known as a "death camp." To be classified as a "death camp," murdering prisoners can be the ONLY function of the guards and workers. Auschwitz-I does not fit this criterion. This camp was also used for forced labor, medical experiments and other activities. The primary killing of Jews at the Auschwitz complex occurred at Auschwitz-II (also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau).

Irène Némirovsky was the daughter of a Jewish banker from Moscow, Léon Némirovsky. Her volatile and unhappy relationship with her mother became the heart of many of her novels.
The Némirovsky family fled Moscow at the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917, spending a year in Finland in 1918 and then settling in Paris, France, where Irène attended the Sorbonne and started writing when she was 18 years old.
In 1926, Irène Némirovsky married Michel Epstein, a banker, and had two daughters: Denise, born in 1929; and Élisabeth, in 1937.
In 1929 she published David Golder, the story of a Jewish banker unable to please his troubled daughter, which was an immediate success, and was adapted to the big screen by Julien Duvivier in 1930, with Harry Baur as David Golder.
In 1930 her novel Le Bal, the story of a mistreated daughter and the revenge of a teenager, became a play and a movie.
The David Golder manuscript was sent by post to the Grasset publisher with a Poste restante address and signed Epstein. H. Muller, a reader for Grasset immediately tried to find the author but couldn't get hold of him/her. Grasset put an ad in the newspapers hoping to find the author, but the author was "busy": she was having her first child, Denise. When Irène finally showed up as the author of David Golder, the unverified story is that the publisher was surprised that such a young woman was able to write such a powerful book.
Although she was widely recognized as a major author, by Jewish authors like Joseph Kessel and anti-semitic authors like Robert Brasillach alike, French citizenship was denied to the Némirovskys in 1938.
Irène Némirovsky was Jewish, but converted to Catholicism in 1939 and wrote in Candide and Gringoire, two anti-Semitic magazines—perhaps partly to hide the family's Jewish origins and thereby protect their children from growing anti-Semitic persecution.
By 1940, Némirovsky's husband was unable to continue working at the bank—and Irène's books could no longer be published—because of their Jewish ancestry. Upon the Nazis' approach to Paris, they fled with their two daughters to the village of Issy-l'Evêque (the Némirovskys initially sent them to live with their nanny's family in Burgundy while staying on in Paris themselves; they had already lost their Russian home and refused to lose their home in France), where Némirovsky was required to wear the Yellow badge.
On July 13, 1942, Irène Némirovsky (then 39) was arrested as a "stateless person of Jewish descent" by French police under the regulations of the German occupation. As she was being taken away, she told her daughters, "I am going on a journey now." She was brought to a convoy assembly camp at Pithiviers and on July 17 together with 928 other Jewish deportees transported to Auschwitz. Upon her arrival there two days later, her forearm was marked with an identification number. According to official papers, she died a month later of typhus.
Her husband was sent to Auschwitz shortly thereafter, and was immediately put to
death in a gas chamber.

The rediscovery
Némirovsky is now best known as the author of the unfinished Suite française (Denoël, France, 2004, ISBN 2207256456; translation by Sandra Smith, Knopf, 2006, ISBN 1400044731), two novellas portraying life in France between June 4, 1940 and July 1, 1941, the period during which the Nazis occupied Paris. These works are considered remarkable because they were written during the actual period itself, and yet are the product of considered reflection, rather than just a journal of events, as might be expected considering the personal turmoil experienced by the author at the time.

oldest daughter, Denise, kept the notebook containing the manuscript for Suite Française for fifty years without reading it, thinking it was a journal or diary of her mother's, which would be too painful to read. In the late 1990s, however, she made arrangements to donate her mother's papers to a French archive and decided to examine the notebook first. Upon discovering what it contained, she instead had it published in France, where it became a bestseller in 2004.
The original manuscript has been given to the Institut mémoires de l'édition contemporaine (IMEC), and the novel has won the Prix Renaudot—the first time the prize has been awarded posthumously.
Némirovsky's surviving notes sketch a general outline of a story arc that was intended to include the two existing novellas, as well as three more to take place later during the war and at its end. She wrote that the rest of the work was "in limbo, and what limbo! It's really in the lap of the gods since it depends on what happens."
In a January 2006 interview with the BBC, her daughter, Denise, said, "For me, the greatest joy is knowing that the book is being read. It is an extraordinary feeling to have brought my mother back to life. It shows that the Nazis did not truly succeed in killing her. It is not vengeance, but it is a victory."

Monday, May 5, 2008

What They're Up To Now!

A couple of things to look forward to from authors we've read:
This Wednesday evening from 4-6:30 William Kent Krueger will be hosting a "Totally Criminal cocktail Hour" at the Dock Cafe in Stillwater. Call 651-430-3385 for reservations...I'm sure he'd love us! And so we all can recognize him a photo to study

Also, for all of you Leif Enger lovers, he has now come out with a second novel called So Brave, Young and Hnadsome. He'll be at Edina's Barnes & Noble this Friday at 7:30. The St. Paul Pioneer Press printed a wonderful review of it earlier this week. The theme centers around his love of the wild west. So Brave, Young, and Handsome is this story told of three primary characters, with a few others thrown in along the way. It is a road story telling of a physical journey that brings out the metaphysical of each of the characters, but not in a mushy, spiritualistic, heavy-laden way. And that’s what is so brilliant about the book. It’s not philosophy. It’s a great tale in the tradition of great American writers from decades past.

This is a book about in between times and in between people drawn with immense clarity and insight, while retaining a direct and sparse prose. Enger tells us of an era and certain characters, a story not a message. It is in this story, however, that we see so much of real life as it so often is: in between.

We are between the old and the new, the good and the bad, the honest and the false, the artist and the laborer, the young and the aged, the adventurous an the prosaic. The characters hope, but don’t know how to find this hope. What they do is carry on, having tasted something of who they know themselves to be they won’t let themselves go back. As Enger says in his acknowledgments, “Sometimes heroism is nothing more than patience, curiosity, and a refusal to panic.”

What I like so much about Enger’s work is that it is so hopeful. Absolutely honest, mind you, there’s no false hope to be found here or sentimentalism seeking to manipulate our emotions. These are real people, faults and all. But unlike so much contemporary literature and film Enger doesn’t feel a need to obsess with corruption or ruin. His is a book that shows people who are not handsome, or young, and rarely brave. But they want to be, and be such in ways that matter to them, not to others around them. They are seeking wholeness for themselves.

Not all succeed. Some do, but not in the expected ways.

“For at the same time he lost everything–the very direction of his own steps–he won the thing he held so precious he wouldn’t approach it in words.”

It is a story of real life. Not gritty, corrupted, malformed caricatures. Real people, or at least characters who are desperate to become real people, who learn what it is to be a real person.

With all this depth and insight it might sound ponderous. But it’s not. It’s very gentle and easy-going. It moves along at a varied pace, with enough movement to never seem tiresome and enough twists to never seem predictable. My only slight irritation is that sometimes Enger jumps ahead a bit and is so eager to bring a slight twist that he breaks the moment with unnecessary foreshadowing, sort of a “you’ll love what comes next!” moments. I wish he just let us experience the story as it happened a bit more. But this is a minor qualm and he does even this within the contexts of a fitting narration.

It’s a brilliant book, in craft and theme and insight. It’s the best work of contemporary fiction I’ve read in a very long time and guess it will be my favorite book of 2008