Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Words & music

Sunday afternoon - a pot of coffee, the papers with gift guides, books of the year etc. Sorting out stuff to order ... as the Christmas season rushes at us. One of yesterday's papers here had a free Sinatra CD of Christmas songs ! - there is a month to go yet ....

A Marilyn no-no: this cover is eye-catching from those iconic last MM sessions, its an expensive new book (from Taschen) which mixes the text from Norman Mailer's 1973 essential book on Monroe with the photos from THE LAST SESSION, photographer Bert Stern's previous book on his sessions with Monroe in 1962. but Why ? Its simply another way to sell previous books and still make money out of Monroe, whose estate is now making more than it ever did while she lived. A big plus of the original Mailer book was that it brought together a lot of key photographs by the likes of Eve Arnold, George Barris, Milton Green, Cecil Beaton, Sam Shaw, Bob Willoughby and others as well as the text which re-defined Marilyn as a cultural icon. I also have the original Bert Stern book, so this one is just not necessary - avoid, I say. Anyway, I prefer the George Barris MM pictures ....

ANOTHER book on the Redgraves ! "A family epic" no less! On the heels of that Redgrave book by Tim Adler which was my summer trash classic read (Books, Trash labels) comes another biography of the theatre dynasty by established biographer Donald Spoto (whose book on Marilyn is among the best on her...) This blurb begins:
For more than a century, the Redgraves have defined theater and film while captivating the public eye. Their history is a rich tapestry of singu­larly talented individuals whose influence is felt to this day, yet their story has never before been told. In The Redgraves, bestselling biographer Donald Spoto draws on his close personal relationships with the family and includes both his interviews and un­precedented personal access to them. The result is a groundbreaking account of this extraordinary clan and their circle ....

Spoto at least knows what he writes about - unlike the Redgraves' previous biographer who had not even seen BLOW-UP, Vanessa first key role in the cinema ... and was really all about her ex-husband Tony Richardson, but we have really covered all that already

I am currently reading Edna O'Brien's biography COUNTRY GIRL, which mines her Irish background once again as we return to her childhood in County Clare, and move to Dublin and getting involved with an older man, and then her literary life in London and the people she knew. Fascinating stuff if you know the O'Brien books - THE COUNTRY GIRLS etc and the films made from them: THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES, and I WAS HAPPY HERE (which I have covered several times here, Ireland label). She doesn't mention the movies though, apart from the cheque arriving for the film that became the Rita Tushingham-Peter Finch 1964 GIRL WITH GREEN EYES. Redhead O'Brien wasn't called "the Maureen O'Hara of the literary world" for nothing, so its a fascinating story by a writer well-used to writing about her life and times, as per my previous post on her. 

Among other memoirs, Rupert Everett has got raves across the board for his latest slab of autobiography VANISHED YEARS, I enjoyed his first instalment, so we will have to get this too in due course. Good to see that Everett has now found his ideal role as Oscar Wilde, which he is continuing to play next year ... (as per review at theatre label). Grimmer fare is provided by reviews of other books which have caught my attention, we will have to investigate further items like SAVAGE CONTINENT: Europe in the aftermath of World War II, which covers that "descent into anarchy" as millions of displaced persons roamed the countryside (by Keith Lowe); TITANIC LIVES by Richard Davenport-Hines, among all the books on the Titanic centenary this one is about the passengers and crew who made that fateful voyage .... ; and IRON CURTAIN, another grim tale chronicling "The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956" (Anne Applebaum).
There is also Colm Toibin's new tale, a novella THE TESTAMENT OF MARY - if it is as good as his others one should be in literary heaven ...

On the music front I will have to get Alicia Keys latest GIRL ON FIRE which has some interesting tracks - is it really 10 years since her first hit "Falling"? we loved that first album. I am wondering if I really need GRRR, The Rolling Stones latest compilation (I have 2 already), I shall watch their documentary CROSSCUT HURRICANE first, its been recorded from television. One new (to me) singer I have invested in is Elina Garanca, the mezzo-soprano from Latvia, we heard good things about her new album ROMANTIQUE and I also got an earlier one of hers HABANERA with gypsy songs from CARMEN and others.Ole! 
I want a decent Mel Torme compilation too, I used to have his 45rmp single "Coming Home Baby" with "Right Now" as the B-side. It defined cool then and still does now ... his book on working with Judy Garland on her early '60s tv shows was a great, if settling scores, read too!

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