I don't recall how I came across Vicki Hopkins' blog, "Lessons from the Phantom of the Opera," but I read it for the better part of...moreOverall score: 4.25
I don't recall how I came across Vicki Hopkins' blog, "Lessons from the Phantom of the Opera," but I read it for the better part of a year. This book consists of selected entries from that blog, along with what she calls "The View From Box 5" (a series of what I came to think of as study questions and, frankly, skipped even looking at after a while).
Hopkins' essays cover a variety of topics. She emphasizes that she is not attempting to be scholarly or psychological in her interpretations of various symbols and events that she chooses to examine (e.g., the mask, graveyards, religion). However, she does have a few footnotes to indicate sourcing and shares some scholarly concepts. A great many of her references are from scriptures.
While one may not agree with Hopkins' interpretations (several are based on scenes from the 2004 "Phantom of the Opera" movie, which not everyone liked), she does support her position well with evidence. I believe the essays would have been more powerful without the study questions, as the thoughts her essays provoked did not always go down the road of the questions she presented.
Upfront confession #1: I'm a Phantom fan, and Byron Nease is my favorite Raoul (the romantic lead).
Upfront confession #2: I finished this book the sam...moreUpfront confession #1: I'm a Phantom fan, and Byron Nease is my favorite Raoul (the romantic lead).
Upfront confession #2: I finished this book the same day that it arrived in the mail, and I had to spend some time absorbing what I had read before I could write a review.
"Behind the Mask ... No More" is not a chronological autobiography; it is a memoir with various matters grouped in thematic chapters. While some might find this format confusing, I found it easy to think of the chapters as essays with examples from Nease's life.
Nease pulls no punches about the difficulties he has endured. He writes honestly about growing up as a young gay man in a conservative Christian family where abuse was part of the dynamic (physical and emotional). The same applies to discussing the foibles of his theatrical career, his HIV diagnosis (and the medication side effects), and finally deciding to talk about his life.
Nease talks about all of these things in terms of masks he learned to wear long before he ever played Raoul, or the Yeston/Kopit Phantom (a role he refers to in the prologue as "going to the dark side). In deciding to stand bare-faced and bare-souled in his memoir, Nease shows how we all hide parts of ourselves from our loved ones that would be better off shared.
This is a book that I will be re-reading from time to time, to remind me of the importance of compassion and love. (less)
**spoiler alert** The nicest thing I can say about this book is that she was very brave to publish it. I quit reading after four chapters, other than...more**spoiler alert** The nicest thing I can say about this book is that she was very brave to publish it. I quit reading after four chapters, other than a desultory flip-through to the end.
In this tale, Erik takes up with a woman who is initially described as being so "wafe-like" [sic:] that he thinks she's a 10-year-old boy ... but mere pages later, she has full, sensuous breasts that are driving him mad (and somehow hid her thick, waist-length red hair under a beret). She also is described as an "expert rider," although the author does not appear to know that an "expert rider" would not take a horse from a walk directly to a swift canter. Horses are bay on one page and grey on the next. Furthermore, the author does not understand French contractions: "La Opera Populaire" vice "l'opera Populaire" is just one example. The seaport of LeHavre is alternately spelled LeHarve', LeHarve and LeHarvre, often on the same page.
The aforementioned desultory flip-through netted me the following information: Monique (the "wafe-like" girl), nicknamed Bonnie, becomes addicted to laudanum after one dose and Erik has to detox her. She also somehow manages to bear Erik 14 children without complication by the end of the book, despite being so "wafe-like" that she can be mistaken for a prepubescent male (other than her enormous bosoms, apparently).
This whole thing really is too ridiculous for words. The author would have done well to spend the extra money to have an editor, or at least a beta reader, to help correct errors in spelling and fact. Even using her spell-check would have been helpful.(less)
Honestly, I think Frederick Forsyth should be ashamed of himself for writing such absolute tripe. He clearly is unfamiliar with Leroux's original nove...moreHonestly, I think Frederick Forsyth should be ashamed of himself for writing such absolute tripe. He clearly is unfamiliar with Leroux's original novel and casts Erik in a humiliating light that the original character would never countenance. To be avoided at all costs.(less)