Christie is never not good. I still prefer Miss Marple to Poirot (he is still a foreign Sherlock knock-off, with all his arrogance but not all his chaChristie is never not good. I still prefer Miss Marple to Poirot (he is still a foreign Sherlock knock-off, with all his arrogance but not all his charm).
I kept waiting for my favorite character to be the murderer (since that has been the pattern so far), but Christie actually never develops her side characters enough this. Intended victim Nick Buckley’s friends are vague (gloomy best friend, rich friend, etc.) and so are the mysterious Australian couple in the nearby cottage and so are the servants. Really the only person developed is Nick Buckley.
The solution to this mystery is indeed pretty brilliant, though. Thank you, Christie, for mixing it up! You truly are the Queen of Mysteries....more
This is a PERFECT short story. Seriously - if you ever need an example of how to write a short story, this is it.
Only a few pages, but still manages tThis is a PERFECT short story. Seriously - if you ever need an example of how to write a short story, this is it.
Only a few pages, but still manages to be exciting, nerve-wracking and astonishing. Man washed up on island realizes the urbane owner he meets is a hunter supreme who has gotten bored with animals and has moved on to the most dangerous game - humans (queue episodes in almost every action show).
I think Connell's best talent is his ability to be concise without being too sparse. The whole story feels alive, but without lengthy exposition or detail.
The story also provides an appropriately chilling villain - charming, polite and obsessed. There's a method to his madness and he doesn't descend into some mustache-twirler. Yeah, he's insane, but his insanity has his own logic that makes him all the more dangerous.
And the ending was perfect – again, saying just enough, neither too little nor too much. ...more
O’Connor is a pretty phenomenally talented short story writer, although her stories need to be spread out over time and not tried all at once. They arO’Connor is a pretty phenomenally talented short story writer, although her stories need to be spread out over time and not tried all at once. They are so dense and deep and also similar enough that savoring (and not rushing) is a good idea.
The eponymous story is amazing. It is intense and grisly. And I loved the Unreliable Narrator Grandma who thinks she’s so helpful and awesome but you can tell she is an annoying old bat – judgy and nagging and stubborn. The parents are admittedly kind of useless and the children are brats. But no matter how aggravating this family is they do not deserve what happens!!
All O'Connor's stories are dark which is not something I expected for a woman writing in the 1950s! I think my favorites were all in the beginning. Besides “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” I enjoyed “The River” (a boy who is neglected by his party-animal parents becomes obsessed with the river; it does not end well) and “The Life You Save May Be Your Own (a charming con man marries a developmentally disabled and deaf girl to get her grandmother’s money and car; it does not end well). Although I also really enjoyed “Good Country People” (an arrogant and lonely spinster gets seduced by a seemingly country-bumpkin Bible seller; it does not end well). As you can tell, O'Connor stories do not end well for the people in them.
O’Connor is always dark, she has a lot of grumpy ladies who often come in pairs, precocious children who remain unnamed and people who are arrogant and think they know more (usually about the world) than they really do. ...more
Wow, so I didn’t expect that. This was way more risqué than I thought was allowed in the 1950s. PLUS discussion of homosexuality! Seriously did not thWow, so I didn’t expect that. This was way more risqué than I thought was allowed in the 1950s. PLUS discussion of homosexuality! Seriously did not think that was talked publicly acknowledged at all back then!!!
Eldest son Brick is systematically drinking himself to death to deal with the guilt surrounding his best friend Skipper's suicide (as well as possibly his shame over being gay). His wife, Maggie, is a survivor. She came from nothing and fears it all will be taken away now that her rich husband won’t touch her. Plus, there’s the whole sibling rivalry, with Brick the chosen golden boy (despite not being successful beyond his glory days as a college athlete) and Gooper being the dependable, hardworking, overlooked child (and his wife Mae being a shrill protector of what she thinks is her husband’s rightful inheritance). Plus, Big Daddy is an egotistical piece of work finally having to confront his own mortality and his wife is hopelessly devoted to a man who can’t stand her. A dysfunctional family, indeed.
I think my absolute favorite scenes were those between Brick and Maggie. They are the two most intense, dynamic characters in the play – Brick trying to destroy himself and Maggie trying to hang on with everything she has in her.
I really, really want to see this performed with a strong cast. It will be excellent. ...more
If this is what Westerns are like, I need to read more of them. I saw the 2010 movie version and loved it and had heard the book was pretty good. So IIf this is what Westerns are like, I need to read more of them. I saw the 2010 movie version and loved it and had heard the book was pretty good. So I decided to try it out, and am incredibly glad I did. The movie stuck incredibly closely to the book, especially the first third, which was at places word-for-word (but such clever words, I didn’t mind experiencing them twice).
Mattie Ross gets my vote as one of the most badass heroines ever written. Of everyone in the story, she is the one with the truest grit (though Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf have quite a bit themselves). Mattie has a mission: hunt down her father’s killer and see him brought to justice. And nothing will stand in her way: not the fact that she’s a girl, not the fact that she’s young, not the fact that she’s inexperienced. Everyone tells her to stay home and let the professionals take care of it, but Mattie has the optimistic faith of youth and is bound and determined to come along and make sure the job is done right.
The characters have depth, the dialogue is generally smart and amusing, the heroine is wonderful, the plot is exciting. I tend to view Westerns as dime-novels (poorly written pulp). But this one was excellent. And I would recommend it as a gateway drug to other Westerns. ...more
I'm starting to get worried that my favorite minor characters in Christie mysteries always turn out to be the murderer. Either I have a worrying tasteI'm starting to get worried that my favorite minor characters in Christie mysteries always turn out to be the murderer. Either I have a worrying taste in people, or Christie likes using our own biases against ourselves, and makes appealing characters turn out to be the bad guys.
I wonder if whatever principle is at work is the same one that inevitably makes my favorite minor character be the only one to die. (see, Hobbit, The, only dwarf character to get killed off).
I've only read three Christies so far, but I'm going to call it and say that I like Miss Marple better. Poirot is too much like Sherlock, but not as awesome. Miss Marple is a badass with spectacles and a self-effacing oh-little-old me attitude that hides a razor-sharp insight.
Even though I didn't like Poirot as much, the mystery still kept me on edge. Like Poirot, I was convinced there was more to the killings than a simple insane serial killer with an alphabet fetish (mostly because my short Christie experience told me that there was a more base human emotion at work, probably involving jealousy or greed). But I didn't figure it out until after Poirot spelled it out (drat! I need to just suspect my favorite character right off from now on). ...more
I LOVE THIS PLAY!!!!!!!!!!! Setting aside musicals (where Les Mis has my heart forever and ever), this is my absolute favorite play.
I saw this first,I LOVE THIS PLAY!!!!!!!!!!! Setting aside musicals (where Les Mis has my heart forever and ever), this is my absolute favorite play.
I saw this first, during the current (2011) revival in New York City. I go back and forth whether it was better to see it or read it first, but I think I liked seeing it first. I got to witness it brought to life and glimpsed the big picture before going back and reading the lines and seeing what I missed.
Everything takes place in the same room in the same house in Debryshire, England. But there are two plots interweaving 180 years apart. The first (and my personal favorite) takes place in 1809 and centers on 13-year old child genius Thomasina and her womanizing and sarcastic tutor, Septimus. The second is in 1993, which mostly centers on feminist historian Hannah and her patronizing, arrogant fellow historian Bernard, as well as descendants from Thomasina's family line. The things that Thomasina, Septimus and their contemporaries are writing/drawing show up in the 1993 storyline and are (mis-)interpreted by the historians and descendants.
There's lots going on here, most of it very clever. It's like an episode of The West Wing where everyone has a quip and can banter smartly without missing a beat. There are also BIG IDEAS about time and destiny and mathematics and romantic v. gothic and science v. humanities and all that jazz.
But what makes this great is the characters. I LOVE Thomasina and Septimus. Thomasina is precocious but she's had the typical enclosed childhood of wealthy girls of her time and doesn't quite realize how outlandishly smart she is. Septimus, for all his seductive ways, is an excellent tutor, taking Thomasina seriously and not condescending to her. He's also wonderfully witty and flippant to those he doesn't respect and could easily fit in an Oscar Wilde play.
And Stoppard does an amazing job about capturing all the central characters and really making them three-dimensional, without any internal monologuing and voice overs. He also effortlessly intertwines the past/present storylines as well as really making the dialogue between the two ages distinct. We don't talk like people from 1809 and Stoppard never writes like we do. The dialogue from 1809 sounds like it could be from 1809 and the modern dialogue is properly modern.
The other thing is that there's no villain. Bernard is certainly aggravating and can be incredibly condescending and reminds me much too much of people I've been trapped in conversations with at college. But he's not The Bad Guy. He's a protagonist and his wild enthusiasm for his subject is rather cute and endearing until he puts his foot in his mouth again. He's kind of the rambunctious puppy that is adorable until he chews up your favorite pair of shoes. But how can you hate a puppy? You have to forgive him and love him all over again.
In short: watch it if you can. Read it for sure....more