Unfortunately, the platitudes outnumber the brilliant passages. This is really a series of short stories, set in occupied Naples in sum...moreWildly uneven.
Unfortunately, the platitudes outnumber the brilliant passages. This is really a series of short stories, set in occupied Naples in summer 1944, inter-woven with a series of first person narratives about Burns' own experiences in North Africa and Italy during the war. These "promenade" sections particularly tedious to me. Throughout, Burns often strains to be profound, making broad generalizations about Americans and Italians that seem more suitable perhaps for a sociology textbook. Mr. Author, please show, don't tell us!
Among the short stories, "Momma," set in a Neapolitan "gay bar" frequented by American servicemen, is quite good. I also liked "Queen Penicillin," which relates the experience of a GI undergoing treatment for syphllis. Perhaps they could be anthologized, because they could really stand on their own.(less)
I like this series a lot. The books are compact, but they contain a lot of strong analysis. And Phillip Drummond does an excellent job of presenting v...moreI like this series a lot. The books are compact, but they contain a lot of strong analysis. And Phillip Drummond does an excellent job of presenting various "understandings" of the film: commercial, genre-based, "star-driven," "auteur-driven", political, feminist. The production stills are also very well-chosen. (less)
Marietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree (1917-1991) never graduated from college nor published a book. Sometimes characterized as the typical "limosine liber...moreMarietta Peabody Fitzgerald Tree (1917-1991) never graduated from college nor published a book. Sometimes characterized as the typical "limosine liberal" of the 1960s and 70s, she was most known as a joiner of committees and as a member of executive boards, an often-seen name in the society pages of the East Coast from the 1940s to the early 1990s, a friend of Jackie Onassis and Bebe Paley. (She also served as an American representative to various United Nations committees in the 1960s.) Yet she clearly deserves her own biography, because her life intersected interestingly with so many currents of 20th century society and culture. She was a scion of the Peabodies, one of the great New England families of wealth and prestige. Her grandfather Peabody founded the archetypal WASP private school of Groton; her father served in an archetypal WASP profession as a member of the Episcopal clergy and eventually became a Bishop in upstate New York.
Marietta lived in the confines of her upbringing, but through her life did her best to establish an identity unique to herself. This is seen most poignantly in her two major extramarital affairs, the first with noted film director John Huston, the second with two-time Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson II. She also had fraught relationships with her two offspring, a daughter from each of her two largely unhappy marriages. Her elder daughter, Frances Fitzgerald, became a noted journalist and wrote one of the best books on the Vietnam War, "The Fire in the Lake." The younger daughter (from her second marriage), Penelope Tree, became a "supermodel" during the "Swinging Sixties."
Caroline Seebohm is at her best in discussing the challenges and constraints of Marietta's largely unsuccessful attempts to balance her emotions with her marital and parental responsibilities. Unfortunately this 420 page book is too long. There are two many extraneous details, too much padding. A strong vigorous editor would have overseen the cutting of 150 pages from the text. (I blame the publisher.)(less)
1959 was a hard time to be gay or lesbian, even in Greenwich Village where (apparently) a buck could buy you three drinks in a gay bar and leave you w...more1959 was a hard time to be gay or lesbian, even in Greenwich Village where (apparently) a buck could buy you three drinks in a gay bar and leave you with enough change for a phone call!
Sweet young lesbian Laura Landon has run away from an overbearing father and is trying to make it on her own in the Big Apple. She falls in love with her straight roommate, becomes the obsession of a tough butch, and fails at her office job. Fortunately she has a great gay guy friend named Jack who is there for her when she needs it - and she needs it a lot.
Poor Laura whines a lot and she makes some bad choices. Sometimes you feel like slapping her until you remember that she's just twenty and from the Midwest and it's 1959: she's never listened to Lady Gaga or heard of Ellen or seen a "It Get's Better" video on YouTube. (less)