Well, the husband — who is absolutely almost never a reader of fiction (meaning he can read but just doesn't for fun) — saw the spacesuit helmet cover on The Sky Below (I downloaded to the fire to checkout the Kindle motion features and all the video added).
He has been engrossed and even sometimes chortling ever since. He is actually frustrated that I won't talk about the book with him because haven't read yet or been in mood to start a memoir.
So, it may be a damn good book or it may be a damn good book just for old men. It's definitely a kindle first getting read rather than just downloaded while free.
Our number came up on the hold list for the movie Hidden Figures. I don't watch a lot of movies (since I'm too busy reading instead) but I'd been curious how they were going to condense 20+ years into a movie that wasn’t a documentary. There were quite a number of changes because of the limitations of creating a reasonable length movie. Primarily, the movie only covering a few years in the early 1960's, years which occur in the middle of the story told by the book, and by creating several composite characters.
I generally think the movie was well done. I liked how the coffee pot in Katherine Goble/Johnson's lab stood in for the repeated tensions about the sign on the colored tables in the lunchroom. While a bit overdramatic, I think the bathroom “runs” to the other side of the campus – work in hand – were a nice touch to show both inconvenience and dedication. I liked the visual of how the "girls" in their brightly colored dresses popped out of the sea of caucasian engineers in white shirts. And while a stock Hollywood trope, I liked the march of the former West Computers to their new lives in the IBM mainframe lab.
I didn't like how the movie turned Katherine's checking the numbers for John Glenn's Freedom 7 trajectory into a last minute nail-biter. While the time shifting of the true request to have a human check the numbers generated by the IBM computer, for the sake of the movie they felt the need to raise the stakes and add a false crisis.
In the book, the focus was clearly on the women and their accomplishments and while the sexism and racism of the day was ever present, I felt like it wasn't the focus of the story. In the movie format, with the need to center the composite characters played by big stars Kevin Costner and Jim Parsons, I almost felt like the movie was too much about racism and sexism and not enough about how the women developed and what they accomplished. But some of that may just be the time limitations of a movie.
In closing, I'm glad I took the time to watch Hidden Figures soon after I read the book, but I'm also glad that I waited to watch it at home for the cost of a trip to the library to pick up the DVD rather than paying theater prices.
Eddie Izzard's comedy is like a cultural language in itself. You can identify people by their jokes and quips.
"Cake or death?"
"I was on the moon, with Steve!"
"Obviously, Hitler never played Risk as a child."
Et al. There's a joy in discovering another fan and playing with the shared joy of Izzard's humor, and I've adored him since I discovered him and his embodiment of genderfuck while in my early teens.
Believe Me is like a conversation with Izzard. The voice is so unmistakable that reading the book one cannot but help hear Izzard narrating in one's head. The memoir is poignant and touching, with a deft seasoning of Izzard's humor, and a careful handling of painful and difficult subjects.
I also highly recommend the audiobook, read by Izzard, and enriched with "live footnotes" as Izzard makes on-the-fly additions to the text and existing footnotes.
Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Penguin RandomHouse in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.
(Review for Speak, Memory only: four stars)
It was a pleasure to read Nabokov after so long. I forgot how easy it is to get carried along by the flow and particularities of his prose, sometimes to the point of losing the meaning of what's being expressed. Speak, Memory is a kind of memoir of Nabokov's childhood through his family's exile in Europe following the Russian Revolution. I learned (or was reminded of) a lot that sheds light on his writing, such as the fact that he had synesthesia (syllables and letters had colors). He read and wrote English before Russian but later lamented that his English skills did not match those in Russian (if only I read Russian!). At one point he states that once he used a detail of his life for his fiction, it felt like it was no longer his.
If you're familiar with Nabokov, you'll enjoy the passages detailing or referencing his passion for butterfly hunting. In fact my favorite line in the book concerns it: "America has shown even more of this morbid interest in my retiary activities than other countries have--perhaps because I was in my forties when I came there to live, and the older the man, the queerer he looks with a butterfly net in his hand." Lol, indeed.
I was less interested in some of the earlier chapters that focus on his extended family, but there were still fascinating stories to be had, and his prose is always worth it.