I loved this book. Full stop. Loved. It. My initial reaction, that it's just like Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, was echoed right there on the jackeI loved this book. Full stop. Loved. It. My initial reaction, that it's just like Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, was echoed right there on the jacket blurb (which I had failed to notice before beginning).
Caveat: I have not read Walls' famous memoir The Glass Castle. I understand that it's largely about how dysfunctional and neglectful her mother and father were. Walls started out intending to write this book about her mother's childhood on a ranch, but ended up writing about her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, a remarkable character. Spending early childhood living in a dugout house on a river in Texas, at fifteen she rode 500 miles to take her first teaching job. She took herself off to Chicago on her own to get a diploma, returned to take more teaching jobs, broke horses, and with her husband ran a 160,000 ranch, where their two children were born.
Walls describes the book as a "true life novel." She has gathered information about her grandmother's life (she died when Walls was eight) from family oral history and discovered that most of it was corroborated by other sources, but where it conflicted, she went with the oral history. She writes the book first-person in her grandmother's voice, and what emerges is an intriguingly intimate account of this woman's life. Some things are gone into in detail, others are skimmed over, as it is with memory and stories told about the past. The life Lily led is itself fascinating enough. She is a complex narrator, resourceful and independent, but with flaws. She is severe and even cold with her children, pragmatic to the point of being mercenary, and short-tempered. I'm guessing most people found her intimidating, difficult and forbidding, but I found myself wishing I could have met her myself....more
I read Bonfire of the Vanities so that I could read this book, an account of the making of the big-budget, star-studded film adaptation, which becameI read Bonfire of the Vanities so that I could read this book, an account of the making of the big-budget, star-studded film adaptation, which became one of the most legendary flops in film history. You wouldn’t have to have read the book to enjoy this account but I’d think you would at least have to have seen the film (which I have not, incidentally). That being said, I felt like I got a lot more out of the book having read Wolfe’s book, and knowing what its message and tone was in comparison to how the film was made.
Author Salamon sat in during the entire production of the film. Of course at the time, she and director Brian De Palma, who approved her journalistic presence, were unaware of the disaster the film would turn out to be, so Salamon would have had no idea that she’d be chronicling a symbol of Hollywood hucksterism. Sometimes the universe just hands you a big juicy plum for no particular reason.
Salamon’s account of the filming is precise and detailed, even a tad dry at times, but she admirably sticks to what she witnessed and learned through interviews. She doesn’t speculate or traffic in gossip, presenting the actors and Hollywood power types as she experienced them. The book was a fast read and very interesting, as well as illuminating of the frustrating process of trying to make a good film when every single thing is piecemeal. It’s like the death by a thousand cuts, or like being pecked to death by ducks. I would have appreciated some more material at the end and some analysis of why the film failed so badly. There is some, of course, but the end felt a tad rushed....more
After reading this book and his other memoir, I feel like I know Dan's family, and it's great to catch up with them. Dan makes many different points aAfter reading this book and his other memoir, I feel like I know Dan's family, and it's great to catch up with them. Dan makes many different points about the gay marriage debate from a very personal perspective....more