Thursday, March 22, 2012

february/march books

More books:
Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller): This was the first time I’d read the play and I found it profoundly moving. It’s a timeless masterpiece – that questions the American consumer dream (and perhaps consumerism in general?). It’s about false hopes, pride, family aspirations, financial struggles, reality and unreality. There are a couple of slightly spooky personal connections about the play: it was written in the year of my birth (1949!) about a man in his 60s (oops!)… glad I’m not a salesman!
Churchill: The Struggle for Survival 1945-60 (Lord Moran): An absolutely fascinating, brilliant biography written by Churchill’s long-term doctor (who frequently saw him two or three times a week and accompanied him on most of his political excursions) about the post-war years. Insightful, intimate, illuminating and, at times, very amusing. A throw-back to times gone by – when Churchill, in his second premiership for example, did much of his work from his bed (“unless there is a Cabinet he does not get out of bed till luncheon”) and, on one occasion, had to check with one of his assistants to establish whether or not electricity was nationalized!
The Snapper (Roddy Doyle): I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every Doyle book I’ve ever read – and this was no exception (“snapper”: dimunition of “whippersnapper”). Absolutely hilarious at times (despite the F word appearing about four times every page). I particularly loved the Jimmy Rabbitte Senior character – the dialogue is absolutely priceless! I picked up the book free from a neighbour’s garden wall (she was clearly having a clear-out of her bookcases). First published in 1990.
The Genius and The Goddess (Jeffrey Meyers): The book recounts the lives of Arthur Miller (“genius”) and Marilyn Monroe (“goddess”) – including the five years of their difficult marriage. I’d originally been drawn to the book after reading Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” but, unfortunately from this viewpoint, two-thirds of it was focused on Monroe. Interesting book nevertheless – albeit in a considered, intelligent, somewhat up-market “Hello” magazine kind of way! For me, the most depressing part of the book was nothing to do with Monroe’s tragic life, it was a brief reference to Miller’s son Daniel (from his third marriage), who had Down’s Syndrome (Miller used the term “mongoloid”) and who was placed in a home for the mentally retarded; his wife visited him weekly for the next 40 years. Miller never did.
The Nail (Stephen Cottrell): Another journey through the Passion story. It imagines key witnesses describing Christ’s crucifixion from their points of view.

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