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text 2016-08-10 01:11
Stand by the King, Stand by Your Brother
The Shawshank Redemption - Stephen King
The Body - Robin A.H. Waterfield,Stephen King
The Shining - Stephen King

When I received the incredible opportunity to meet Stephen King, I pondered for days beforehand about what to tell him, what I wanted to share with this man who had shared so much with me through his words.

And then I knew.

But If I were to get the words out in the moment, it had to be a just-us.

 

My husband went first. Then I stepped forward and King's eyes smiled into mine and held them. I leaned forward, the distance balanced between no one can overhear/this is special and I'm a crazy stalker who is going to bite off your nose. His eyes told me he understood. And then I told him.

 

I told him that "The Body", the novella that became Stand by Me, helped me, with every reread, with my delayed and complicated grief from my little brother's death. In the obvious ways at first, but, finally, as I aged--

 

through Chris, as he cried about wanting to go somewhere where no one knew him and start over (unable to shoulder my identity as the Older Bereaved Sister, wanting to drop it)

 

and as Chris, in the quoted scene below, tells Gordie that he is stuck in his grief, stuck thinking the wrong brother died, stuck in his anger, and that he has some writing to do.

King had looked down while I was explaining, to carefully sign my first edition of The Shining. When I got to that last specific bit, he finished, dropped the pen, and met my eyes again. His eyes were damp.

 

"I am so very glad," he said, "and so, so very grateful you were able to tell me."

 

We looked silently at each other for another moment. He slid me my book, and said, "What was his name?"

 

"Eric."

 

He nodded as a man does when he mentally puts something in his pocket. "Eric."

 

--

 

The movie came out when I was in high school, still in the middle of it, still trying to figure out the answer to the question about how many siblings I had. The truth--one but he died? Way to bum everyone out, Morticia. None? Betrayal. Just being tasked with that (tasking myself with it) ramped up the grief-anger. Perfect timing. This movie owns a piece of my heart, and I don't want it back.

 

Gordie: Fuck writing, I don't want to be a writer. It's stupid. It's a stupid waste of time.
Chris: That's your dad talking.
Gordie: Bullshit.
Chris: Bull true. I know how your dad feels about you. He doesn't give a shit about you. Denny was the one he cared about and don't try to tell me different. You're just a kid, Gordie.
Gordie: Oh, gee! Thanks, Dad.
Chris: Wish the hell I was your dad. You wouldn't be goin' around talkin' about takin' these stupid shop courses if I was. It's like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up. And He said, "This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it." Kids lose everything unless there's someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should.

 

--

 

Thank you, sweet, loving Naomi King, for sharing so much of your father with the rest of us weird motley fools and discontents. Please accept this story as a token of gratitude from one Constant Reader, who is a better and healthier person for it.

 

Impetus: http://wilwheaton.net/2011/03/though-i-hadnt-seen-him-in-over-twenty-years-i-knew-id-miss-him-forever/

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review 2016-07-12 21:30
The Book of Negroes (Hill)
The Book of Negroes: A Novel (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Movie Tie-in Editions) - Lawrence Hill

I feel as though I learned a great deal reading this wonderful novel. I have never known much about the specifics of the slave trade, or about slavery in the U.S., and Hill, with his extensive research, has managed to make it clear how very complex and nuanced the whole thing was, with multiple agents all pursuing their own ends. The parts of the novel dealing with the well-intentioned but badly realized resettlement attempts of slaves in both Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone were equally interesting, and, in some ways, just as distressing.

 

I don't know if Hill has stretched the possible by making his female narrator as impressively literate and articulate as he has, but I know I appreciate Aminata Diallo as a character very much because of that articulateness, so I entirely forgive him if that's a bit of an anachronism. The one thing I might not completely forgive is the somewhat unlikely reunion of mother and daughter (May) in London at the end of Aminata's life, but since I was thoroughly caught up in her desolation and isolation as life took from her one loved one or dear friend after another, I felt the need of that sweetness too. Fiction can afford to be a little more generous than life, perhaps.

 

I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that the American publisher chose to change the historically accurate and very appropriate title, for fear of poor sales (and worse). I listened to President Obama's emotional speech on the subject of American race relations today, and was humbly grateful to live in a country where - while we are far from having the answers or solving the bigotry problem - race relations are, for various historical reasons, decidedly less explosive a topic.

 

Aminata's narrative - this novel - is positioned by the frame as a slave narrative that would help push forward the British abolition of the slave trade (and, much later, slavery itself). However, Hill did not attempt to mimic the sound or format of genuine slave narratives from the period, and I'm rather glad he didn't, because it allowed him to give Aminata a much stronger novelistic voice, incorporating direct dialogue and personal reflections in a way that just would not ring true if placed more consciously in the 18th-century literary voice.

 

I've come late to Lawrence Hill. I have a feeling it won't take me nearly as long to get to another one of his works.

 

Very highly recommended.

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url 2014-07-03 22:10
Peter Taylor's top 10 books on the Troubles
Lost Lives: The Stories of the Men, Women and Children who Died as a Result of the Northern Ireland Troubles - David McKittrick,Brian Feeney,Chris Thornton,David McVea,Seamus Kelters
Ten Men Dead: The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike - David Beresford,Peter Maas
Man of War, Man of Peace?: The Unauthorized Biography of Gerry Adams - David L. Sharrock,Mark Devenport
Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh - Toby Harnden
The Fight For Peace: The Secret Story Be... The Fight For Peace: The Secret Story Behind The Irish Peace Process - Eamonn Mallie,David McKittrick
Rebel Hearts: Journeys Within the IRA's Soul - Kevin Toolis
The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait Of The Loyal Institutions - Ruth Dudley Edwards
Trinity - Leon Uris
The Journeyman Tailor - Gerald Seymour
Cal - Bernard MacLaverty

Interesting Guardian-article. I admit I haven't read any of those (though Ten Men Dead is on my tbr-shelf) but I will certainly check a few of those out.

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review 2012-12-30 00:00
Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes
Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics, 1954-1981, With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes - Stephen Sondheim This is a book for die-hard Sondheim fans, budding lyricists or lyric aficionados only. With the lyrics to all his shows between 1954 - 1981 as well as many additional tidbits, this is a fascinating insight into the most talented man in musical theatre.Sondheim studies his own work and dissects his lyrics, as well as those of others in an open and rather frank manner. A simply superb insight into songwriting.
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review 2012-08-04 00:00
Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany
Look, I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics, 1981-2011, With Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes, and Miscellany - Stephen Sondheim I didn't read this as thoroughly as the first volume, because I'm only familiar with two shows in it ("Into the Woods" and "Candide.") But everything I did read was interesting, though I got a bit more of a grumpy old man vibe rrom this one. Still, a must-read for anyone interested in lyric writing or musical theatre.
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