Wednesday, October 26, 2005

NY City and Sweeney Todd

I just got back from my first trip to NYC. It was very brief, but at least I got my feet wet dealing with the trains and subways. It wasn't too bad. I explored a very small section of the Village on a cool, drizzly day. I walked up 5th Ave. and down W. 1oth toward Greenwich Ave/6th/Waverly Place and around Washington Square. I saw Patchin Place--home to Dreiser and Cummings; also Marianne Moore's old brownstone. I wish I had had more time on some of the side streets too.

We saw the new production of Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone at the Eugene O'Neill Theater on 49th St. It is still in previews but officially opening soon. I enjoyed it--I thought it was really inventive and creepy. Apparently, there is serious disappointment among some viewers on some of the theater sites I've seen. They think it is too stripped down and gimmicky--they want the big show with full orchestra, etc. I don't think I had those expectations, not having seen much of the original, except for a few bits from the PBS version. It will be interesting to see what the critics have to say.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Finally, I finished Waverly, which had its moments. Looking at the novel in its context, I can see why, in the early nineteenth century, it was such a phenomenon. Though it's hard to imagine now, it must have been quite the page-turner with its young, romantic hero getting into and out of scrapes with regularity--kidnappings, brigands, battle scenes, executions, a love story--it pretty much had it all. It also had the novelty of being a story based on historical events--but not very remote ones (60 years), so that many readers probably knew who the characters were based on and might have had some connection to the rebellion, either through their own families or acquaintances. I think Scott really jump-started the novel form as we know it. Before him, there were lots of epistolary novels, there were the comic romps of Fielding and Sterne, and Defoe's rather dark stories. But Scott swept in the big, historical/romantic epic which is one of the standard novel forms today.

Anyway, I shall now rest on my Scott laurels, having read Ivanhoe (with much more pleasure) and Waverly. There are a lot of choices for my next novel--Zadie Smith, Rushdie, Frederick Busch, new Doctorow, the new Booker winner by John Banville...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Apparently, I had a lot more time in junior high...

Waverly...I may never finish this book at my present pace. In the South, eternity is two people and a baked ham. In literature, it's reading a historical novel by Walter Scott or James Fenimore Cooper.

Jacksonville City Nights

He may be a cheeky brat sometimes, but Ryan Adams makes up for it with really cool music. I love this new CD with his band, the Cardinals. It's straight-up honky tonk with lots of steel guitar and a really smoky piano-based duet with Norah Jones. I was first hooked on Adams' when he was in Whiskeytown (Pneumonia)--firmly in the alt-country mode. He can pretty much do it all--he's an intelligent songwriter and a very versatile vocalist. I've skipped around with buying his cd's--mostly because I can't afford an artist who's so prolific!--but I'll have to consider getting the Cold Roses release now, because this one is so good. Ryan, slow down, buddy! Run a comb through that hair!