Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont – 4/5 Stars
I do remember reading this, mostly. It was back in February, I was tired, stressed. And so I would have thought! that I would have written a review of this one. But regardless, here I am. I was reminded of this book recently when I found a copy of the movie in a Little Free Library. Let me tell you a very non-shocking thing about me and Little Free Libraries. I love them, and I think they need to be treated with respect. Too often they are the repository of liberal guilt and “best intentions” which basically means they are asked to alleviate the guilt of someone else. So people put their garbage in there. I don’t mean trash, but sometimes I do, but they put the books they don’t want, not the ones they want to share. If you want to donate, take your stuff to Goodwill. If you want to share, put them in the Little Free Library. It’s treated like a charity and not a commonwealth. Anyway. DVDs need to be donated. Give Goodwill a chance to make a dollar.
So this movie, I didn’t watch it. But I did remember that I got my girlfriend to read Elizabeth Taylor because her favorite podcast (Who? Weekly) mentioned the movie. I had been trying to get her to read Taylor for years and she didn’t. But one mention on Who? Weekly and she asked if I had any of her books. Yes, I have like 6. Anyway, this is one of them, and I liked it. It’s about an older woman who meets a much younger man and they develop a kind of relationship. It’s sweet and it’s nice. It reminds me like a much nicer version of “The Sweet Dove Died” by Barbara Pym, but Elizabeth Taylor is a more talented writer.
In the Heart of the Heart of the Country – 3/5 Stars
I don’t remember why I originally wanted to read this. I like the idea of William H Gass more than I like the practice of him. He’s a challenging writer, and like a lot of challenging writers, the challenge is not the reading but the processing. So while the stories range from long to short, the thinking that happens after makes them or doesn’t. So the challenge of a lot this kind of writing for me, is that I end up doing the reading but not the thinking and so a challenging book leaves little to no impression on me. This more or less might have happened here. I did more or less like the stories, but I didn’t take a lot from them with me. The other issue here is that the stories are the early entry of a writer who would practice and hone his skills much much later in more and longer texts. He spent 30 years working on one novel that he published in the mid90s and made me think that I would LOVE him. Turns out I didn’t and that I like modernism more than post-modernism if I am being honest with myself and you.
But I did like That Pederson Kid a lot. It’s weird and wonderful. It’s the only story I remember anything about after reading this months ago.
School for Fools – 2/5 Stars
So I guess I didn’t I didn’t like this one very much. I found it very difficult to stay with for a few reasons. One, it sounded great to me on paper. Two, it turns out from my recent experience that I am more into pre-Revolution Russian literature than Soviet literature. Three, I like unreliable narrators, but more so when they’re dishonest or dissembling than when they don’t have grasp on reality.
So, the results of this novel are less good to me than the expectations. The story itself, if I recall is about a school/mental hospital and the narrator is all over the place and so is the story.
So to sum up I don’t know why I didn’t write these up at the time I read them. It’s possible they got behind me and I never caught up. It’s possible I completely forgot. I think with the latter two, I must have thought about them and then decided not to because I didn’t have a lot to say. At nothing has really changed now, I still don’t have a lot to say about them, but I am looking at my reviews total, I see a goal, and I am taking credit for everything I read! So there.