Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our Heroine Gives a Tip

Here is a tip, free of charge, from our heroine. If you are ever feeling gloomy, grim and in a dark state of mind, if your soul, such as it is, needs jacking up, then run, don't walk, to your nearest bookseller and buy Right Ho, Jeeves!. Of course, read the whole thing if you can, but if you can't, read the chapter entitled "Gussie Presents the Prizes."

This chapter, in which Gussie Fink-Nottle, incapable of uttering more than two consecutive words coherently, must give a speech at a British country grammar school, is one of the most hilarious things I have ever read.

That is because Gussie's friend Bertie Wooster, determined to help him in his hour of need, generously laces Fink-Nottle's morning o.j. with gin. Peeps familiar with Bertie already know that he has "yet to meet the trouble that cannot be dispersed with a few drinks taken in quick succession." Except in this case, Gussie has never had alcohol before, so hijinx totally ensue. Go. read. You can thank our heroine later.

Our Heroine Feels a Twinge of Guilt

Ok, ok, y'all, I just finished The Heart of the Matter, and I feel like a big meanie. I wish an eagle-eyed reader had let me know not to be so hell-bent for leather re: a certain "Scobie smackdown" I was demanding. That poor fella.

I won't write any more about it so as not to give anything away. But I did want to share this lovely quote from the final chapter. Extrapolate from it what you will.

She said drearily, "Father, haven't you any comfort to give me?"

Oh, the conversations, he thought, that go on in a house after a death, the turnings over, the discussions, the questions, the demands -- so much noise round the edge of silence.

Our Heroine Sees A Movie

The Third Man, to be precise. The last of the Graham Greene noir movies to be shown at BAM, thank Heaven! Anyhow, it's no fault of the movie that I'm glad it's the last. The flick itself was solidly awesome. I'm repeating a thousand critics before me when I mention the zither score. Yes, it's as amazing as they say it is (and oddly creepy in it's unrelenting jauntiness). And the final chase scene through the underground drains is equally worth the praise heaped upon it.

But I throw my hands up in disgust at myself and ask, "Am I a book snob or what?!" I mean, I read in my Portable Graham Greene that the novel The Third Man was never meant to be published. That Greene felt you couldn't write a proper screenplay without first writing a fully-fleshed story. So he writes the novel The Third Man, always intending it to be a movie, then he does the screenplay adaptation, and then says that the movie is, "the finished state of the story." So, if ever there was a situation in which the movie is going to be head and shoulders above the book on which it's based, it's this one, right? Right. And yet...I still liked the book better.

Again, it's not the movie's fault, it's mine. I simply heart good potboiler prose, like this:

How quickly one becomes aware of silence even in so silent a city as Vienna with the snow steadily settling. Martins hadn't reached the second floor before he was convinced that he would not find Lime there, but the silence was deeper than just absence -- it was as if he would not find Lime anywhere in Vienna, and, as he reached the third floor and saw the big black bow over the door handle, anywhere in the world at all.

C'mon, that's good right? That's really, really good (especially considering that no one was ever supposed to read it). Talk about something being better than it had to be.

So, go, Netflix thee a copy of the movie, but even in this instance, you've got to read the book too.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Our Heroine Laughs Out Loud

The point of this blog is to talk about intellectual things non-pompously. However, if all pompous intellectuals were as HILARIOUS as these two, I would want to be a pompous intellectual at every moment of the day.

Our Heroine Self-Identifies

I don't know whether it was my predilection for thingummies, or my hatred of climbing stairs, but somehow, I'm terza rima. Didn't you always suspect as much?

I'm terza rima, and I talk and smile.
Where others lock their rhymes and thoughts away
I let mine out, and chatter all the while.

I'm rarely on my own - a wasted day
Is any day that's spent without a friend,
With nothing much to do or hear or say.

I like to be with people, and depend
On company for being entertained;
Which seems a good solution, in the end.

What Poetry Form Are You?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Our Heroine Returns from a Holiday

This post was supposed to go up on Ash Wednesday. I've been on blog holiday! (Actually, I've just been blog-lazy.)

Anyhow, in the interim I've been heavily overdosing on Graham Greene. This film festival at BAM has forced me to read four, count 'em four, Greene novels in four weeks: Ministry of Fear, A Gun for Sale, Brighton Rock and The Third Man. I am going to see the last film at BAM tomorrow night with Father A., and although I'm finished with all four novels, it felt silly to start reading something non-Greene before the festival ended, so now I am in the middle of The Heart of the Matter.

I find Greene, in single doses, to effect in me a sense of hope. His broken, shabby heroes, taken one-at-a-time, really do remind me of "the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God." Taken five at a time though, they're just depressing. Here's an illustration of what I mean. I started reading Greene this month with Ministry of Fear and I'm ending with The Heart of the Matter. Turns out, these are fitting bookends. Both protagonists, Arthur Rowe in MOF and Henry Scobie in HOTM, suffer from a surfeit of pity, in particular towards their wives. I know that Greene thought that pity, as opposed to compassion, was a manifestation of the sin of pride. However, the difference in my reaction to both characters shows the wearying effect of five consecutive Greene novels. I really sympathised with Arthur Rowe, I even forgave him for the "mercy" killing of his wife. But Scobie I find just patronizing and tiresome. I long for a Scobie smackdown. Seriously, y'all, it's not healthy the way I want him punished for his pride, in a way that I did not want for Rowe. Of course, I haven't finished Scobie's story yet, so I may get what I want, but it's not happening soon enough for me.

After all this Greene I am so tired of the mediocrity, the shabbiness, and the frailty of all his characters. I'm tired of the doubting priests, the querulous wives, the faithless husbands, the petty spies, the ignorant policemen, the lame, the hair-lipped, the obese. Of course, I've only read five novels in four weeks and I'm already sick of the human race. How totally comforting to think that God has witnessed this same stuff - and worse - for thousands of years and loves us madly still.

For our far-from-saintly heroine, however, it's clearly time for some pallet-cleansing Wodehouse. Right ho!