Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'Tis the Season for Snow and Bees

Lots of the books the EBC reviews have been made into movies. I might even say almost half of them. Seabiscuit, Lolita, Club Dumas, The Bell Jar, The Joy Luck Club, Like Water for Chocolate, The Handmaid's Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Girl with a Pearl Earring, In Cold Blood, and most recently, All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren and Bee Season by Myla Goldburg.

So Bee Season, the movie is playing now in theatre everywhere (except in Huntsville and its surrounding areas where they prefer to play "The Fog" and "The Exorcism of Emily Rose") and is starring Richard Gere as Saul and Juliette Binoche as the memorable character of Miriam, the mother. Reviews are good so far, and from their tone suggest fans of the book would enjoy seeing this movie.

One reviewer from IMDb.com:
"A mesmerizing tour de force: don't miss it!, 12 September 2005
Author: filmfan75 from United States
I saw this film last night at the Toronto Film Festival. I am a fan of the book, and wondered how the story could be successfully adapted as a film. I worried that the ideas were too complicated, the characters too subtle, to make the transition. When I heard that Richard Gere was going to play the role of the father, I had more serious doubts. (Richard Gere playing a Jew? Almost as ridiculous as Melanie Griffith!) But I needn't have worried. The film is nearly a masterpiece. A subtle, emotional journey through a world of spelling bees, Hare Krishna, Kaballah, Kleptomania, and the gorgeously rendered interior spaces of the imagination. Beautiful, original special effects, delightful characters, great acting. The girl who plays the daughter is excellent, as are the other actors. Juliette Binoche is heartbreaking and mysterious, Richard Gere is perfectly cast as the self-absorbed (Jewish!) father, and Anthony Minghella's son is also in the movie, believe it or not, and he's very good. There are changes from the book. But the overall feeling is very similar. The movie is neither as funny or as dark as Myla Goldberg's novel. But the end might be more emotionally satisfying. See for yourself! You won't be disappointed if you approach with an open mind. Not for the cynical, or for the action film junkie, but I found this a delightful, rich, and emotional journey. Definitely a 10! Put it on the Oscar watch. "

Will you see it?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Best Book I've Never Read

OK. I get it. And I PROMISE I'll read it... as soon as I finish the 4 books I'm currently inching my way through: one by the nightstand, one by the bathtub, one audio in the car, and one for my lunch break at work.

Everybody and their grandma is telling me to read
Widow of the South by Robert Hicks. I'm not a big historical fiction fan, but I do like Tom Franklin and Howard Bahr, so I'm sure I can be convinced to give this one a shot.

Basic premise from the publisher:

"The title character of this haunting historical novel is Carrie McGavock, whose farmhouse was commandeered as a Confederate field hospital before the tragic battle at Franklin, Tennessee, in November 1864. That day, 9,000 soldiers perished. This tragic event turned McGavock into "the widow of the South." She spent the rest of her life mourning those lost, eventually reburying nearly 1,500 of them on her property. Robert Hicks's first historical novel captures the life-altering force that war exerts even on noncombatants. The Widow of the South is a brilliant novel that captures the end of an era, the vast madness of war, and the courage of a remarkable woman to claim life from the grasp of death itself."

Apparently Hicks himself is an absolute hoot to meet - a great entertainer as well as a writer. And he's also personally led the campaigne to preserve the Historic Carnton Plantation where the novel is set, and the nearby Franklin Battlefield.

So instead of trying to talk you into reading it, I suppose I'll shut up and crack it open.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

How to Find the Perfect Short Story

As veteran EBC'ers know, in December we don't read a book. Instead, each member finds a short story they want to contribute and we make short story folders to read and discuss at our holiday party. Finding the perfect short story can be tough. In past years, some have been funny, some have had a seasonal flair, some have been dark, some have been classic, some have been, well... odd. This is your mission if you choose to accept it.

The deadline for story submissions is before Thanksgiving. I need one copy from you so I can make lots of copies and put them in folders for our Nov. 29th meeting. Email it, snail mail it, or come by my home or office. The more stories we have the more fun we have! The December meeting date is TBA - you should receive an invitation soon.

Note: remember to NOT put your name on the copy ou send me. It's lots of fun guessing which person submitted what story. Also, make sure you include a copy of the copyright info! A good librarian is bound by God to give credit where credit is due.

Here are some tips for finding a short story, essay, or exerpt if you get stuck. If you know of more resources, feel free to leave a comment!

The AVL, or Albama Virtual Library has a link on our public library's website. See it on the left? Click on it and scroll down to the databases. Click on LitFinder and search a wonderful array of stories, essays, or speeches. Print out a copy that moves you and get it to me.
You can also find a great selection of story anthologies in the collection in Huntsville or any branch mear you. They even have their own call number, SC for story collection, and are probably found somewhere near the fiction sections.

Many authors write stories or essays for periodicals, and some have their own ss books.
Another option is taking a chapter from your favorite book. Some of my favorites are Tom Franklin, Alice Munro, Dave Eggers, and Dave Sedaris.

Classic Short Stories
More classics
ReadPrint online library
Scary Stuff
Funny Stories
These are just a few suggestions, there is a vast online collection out there!