Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: Nonfiction  (Read 4562 times)
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madupont
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« Reply #240 on: April 14, 2008, 02:46:22 PM »

Just out of curiosity, Des and Barton, what in particular did you dislike about the film? Whatever it was, I'd chalk up to Sol the producer who is known for his more eccentric indeed pornographic moments.

And, yet, on the other hand, I find nothing admirable but the end of the short little book The English Patient. (Not to give the wrong impression,for it is the end that differs entirely from the film and gives you another affirmation of Kim the very pleasant Sikh who just the same does on occasion in the film voice some anti-British convictions.) The rest of the book also differs entirely from the film and there is none of  "his uniquely stylistic use of language, exquisite pacing, hauntingly melancholic imagery?  The novel is one of discovery, on many levels ...".

Yes, you discover that it is the story of one person, a nurse living in Canada who had several strange experiences during the liberation of Italy, not much of what is actually indicated much less with uniquely stylist use of language, exquisite pacing, hauntingly melancholic imagery which is highly notable in the film.  But then, even Ondaatje's poetry has something missing. He is too emotional to get the emotion on to the page because he becomes incapacitated  rather than bring it up.

Hauntingly melancholic imagery abounds in Minghella's film(he also did the screenwriting). The opening sequence of the desert as seen from above from an aeroplane compares to the landscape of a woman's body; I later found a review on exactly that topic when discussing this film, again with the oft mentioned German archivist, because he could answer questions about the actual ongoing war, Rommel's Afrika Korps which was taking place in a different geographic area, which is why the activities of Fiennes' character were so remarkable.  Of course, here we are in a forum talking about fiction when the forum is non-fiction. Ondaatje is writing a fiction about at least one non-fictional character.{correction: at least three, the Claytons are real. Possibly one of the spies that Almasy took across enemy lines, portrayed by Willem Defoe. And there's that nurse, whom I suspect was someone he knew, admired, and on whom he developed a crush.]

It was Dzimas who reminded me that Herodatus is the book that Almasy took into the desert --http://lazarus.elte.hu/~zoltorok/almasy/almasyen.htm

Count Lazlo Almasy not only discovered the Cave of the Swimmers as depicted in the film but after years of North African exploration descended into the Sudan.

A more thorough account of his actual pursuits is given at wikipedia but I can't readily quote that without being berated for it at least a year, so I took a pass but I think you would enjoy the details about his real explorations which account for another scene of great imagery where his car with him and Mrs Clayton beginning to get buried alive in one kind of sandstorm while Almasy accounts all the different terms locally used.

I seem to recall his going into this again in a hotel bath which he shares with Mrs. Clayton and sings romantically; at which she asks if it is something native to the area,very "Oriental"?, and he laughs and said his Hungarian nursemaid sang it to him as a lullaby.

Her tragic death is again the melancholic scene on film, in which he carries her from the crashed plane, puts her into the cave, and then leaves on foot to get help.  In actuality, Mrs. Clayton died in the crash.

Take notice, Donotremove:
there are lots of book recommendations* given at both sites(mentioned)as to his African explorations, including the discovering of the Nubian tribe whom he conjectured were descended from the Hungarian mercenaries of a former Turkic sultan.

Other than that he sold Porsches to rich Egyptian princes.

Since it is a known that Mr. Clayton fired Almasy, perhaps the Fiennes character actually did have an affair with Mrs. Clayton?

The interesting thing is that would account for the writing-in of an actual badly burned "the English Patient" for Ondaatje's Canadian nurse to care for in a place likely to be bombed by the Germans at any moment as they managed to wipe out just about everything civilized in the Italian landscape around Monte Cassino including the Abbey itself which was rebuilt by the Italian State after the war.

Of course the most brilliant scene is when Kim takes  the nurse to investigate the beautiful murals of a local church by using flares to illuminate them as he swings her from place to place on the ropes which reveal her absolute trust in him.
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #241 on: April 14, 2008, 03:19:19 PM »

I just found the film to be stultifyingly slow-paced and BORING, plus it was SOOOOOO depressing.  The cinematography was very nice, but it didn't make up for the excessive length of the thing - if they had cut way back on the length of the film, I suppose I could possibly liked it more. 
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barton
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« Reply #242 on: April 15, 2008, 12:15:51 PM »

I find it hard to articulate what I disliked about TEP -- though Desde's first sentence is pretty close.  It just felt like self-indulgent filmmaking that somehow didn't respect the characters.  Plus I hated Fiennes in that role and his whole throwing-a-hissy-fit thing.  I feel in my bones that the author handled all that much better in the book.



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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #243 on: April 16, 2008, 11:03:07 AM »

   

  Recently finished (quick read) Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle and back to the theme(s) re: Into the Wild I suppose it could be said that she succeeded/survived coming "out of the wild". 
  And, it's another story that is being considered (possibly already in production?) as a film...     
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #244 on: April 16, 2008, 11:10:27 AM »

Never heard of her, kit.  More details?
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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #245 on: April 16, 2008, 11:19:43 AM »

     Wells was a journalist/contributer with MSNBC -- I personally can't picture her -- but apparently she was on regularly.  Now is "just" writing, though I haven't found anything else if hers as yet.  Also, just googled to see about that "film" and it was made, but can't find much more about it....
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #246 on: April 16, 2008, 12:56:04 PM »

Just checked the book out on Barnes and Noble's website - looks like the type of book I'd enjoy.  I loved Angela's Ashes
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kitinkaboodle
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« Reply #247 on: April 16, 2008, 01:52:25 PM »

   There are more differences than similarities between the two -- but I don't want to spoil anything for you  -- fairly certain that you'll find it an intriguing read nonetheless.
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madupont
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« Reply #248 on: April 20, 2008, 12:04:52 PM »

kitinkaboodle,

Thought I would include this example of " small poetry" by Ondaatje which showed up this morning because the publisher considers this Poetry Month.  Father/child poems are fairly the same emotion and I can't date the poem, so was this way back when he came to Canada from Sri Lanka (or, after returning? As he is now back in Canada, in these days of "serial marriage", I don't have a frame of reference, unless I take up a full onslaught review and catch up with the more recent poems of his older years. He's always been quite "grizzled" like a Ceylonese holy man(saddhu) wandering this earth. By the way, I owe you a correction, his Sikh character from TEP is named Kip and not Kim; I knew it was throw back to British Empire, by suggestion,Rudyard Kipling or his Kim.)


BEARHUG


Griffin calls to come and kiss him goodnight
I yell ok. Finish something I’m doing,
then something else, walk slowly round
the corner to my son’s room.
He is standing arms outstretched
waiting for a bearhug. Grinning.
Why do I give my emotion an animal’s name,
give it that dark squeeze of death?
This is the hug which collects
all his small bones and his warm neck against me.
The thin tough body under the pyjamas
locks me like a magnet of blood.
How long was he standing there
like that, before I came?






« Last Edit: April 20, 2008, 12:08:27 PM by madupont » Logged
desdemona222b
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« Reply #249 on: April 21, 2008, 11:32:19 AM »

The following link provides some interesting information about the polygamist group in Texas (I will refer to the group as the FLDS - Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints - from now on).

http://www.slate.com/id/2189275/?GT1=38001

This article only hints at the full story behind this sect, which is graphically revealed in Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, which harrie and I plan to read and discuss in the near future over here.  If anyone else would like to join us, just holler.  Meanwhile, I'm trying to get a bit of a discussion going on the book itself in an attempt to interest more people in it, and to just talk about what's going on in Texas.
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #250 on: April 21, 2008, 11:39:04 AM »

Here's what nytempsperdu said regarding the activities in Texas in the World History forum:

Quote
Re LDS history, my abstract questions about children not being harmed certainly did not apply to those in the compound in Texas, about which I do wonder. Now that the lawbreaking men are separated from their victims, why must the victims--mothers and children--be separated from each other by the state and presumably put into foster homes?  That is a question for another forum, apologies for digressing.

Here is a brief review of Under the Banner of Heaven - this book is a great reference source for those who want to better understand what is driving the authorities in Texas:

I recently moved to Ogden, Utah and am seeking a better understanding of a culture driven by the LDS church. While this book recounts the events of a brutal double murder in southern Utah, at its heart is a story of the development of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 'LDS'. Krakauer carefully distinguishes the FLDS 'Fundamentalist' from the mainstream church. At the same time, FLDS does emerge from an LDS tradition and history. Krakauer carefully explores the history of the church from Joseph Smith, through Brigham Young, to contemporary 'prophets' to explain how FLDS grew out of a dimension of the early church, now spurned by contemporary LDS members. At times I found myself agitated by some of the tendencies of the Mormon tradition. I have always been uncomfortable with what I perceive to be an irresponsible attitude favoring prolific reproduction. I am uncomfortable with the secrecy and lack of transparency with the church. I am uncomfortable with the clear patriarchal dimensions of their practices. Still, I respect many things I find here in Utah - among the people, their treatment of others outside the church, and what can be an incredibly generous attitude toward others. Krakauer's book has helped add dimension to my understanding of and even sympathy for what is a tumultuous history.

Also recommended: 'Refuge' by Terry Tempest Williams 'Beyond the Hundredth Meridian' by Wallace Stegner
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #251 on: April 21, 2008, 11:39:56 AM »

Also, if you go here:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/results.asp?WRD=Under+the+Banner+of+Heaven

You can read excerpts from the book.
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #252 on: April 21, 2008, 11:47:17 AM »

So, nytemps, I believe the rationale for separating the children from both parents is the fact that the mothers have been reared since birth to approve of such practices, so they are seen as accomplices to the sexual abuse practices the sect is accused of.  I also suspect that the children are regularly beaten as a matter of course.

It's really hard to emphasize just how docile and compliant the women in this group are, and just how ruthless the men are when it comes to marrying several women, regardless of their young age.  One thing that has not come out in the press is the fact that the FDLS sect teaches that it is MANDATORY for the men to have many wives.  In many instances, women with children have remarried men only to have the man lay claim to their teenage daughters as well - this isn't uncommon at all.  The women are pretty much captives since they assume the role of homebodies, don't get good educations, and eschew anything going on in the outside world.

I do have sympathy for the all the children who were rounded up and for the women - it seems very harsh to just round all of the kids up on a wholesale basis based on a single complaint they haven't verified yet.

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madupont
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« Reply #253 on: April 21, 2008, 01:10:50 PM »

Des, another reason,

for separating the children from the mothers who continue to indoctrinate them before the whole lot are brought to hearings to give evidence.  You simply have to hear from the children without the coaching of a brain-washed parent.(which they are, as the tv documentary made obvious; they tended to get up tight when they couldn't reach for another believable explanation for why they practice polygamy as women, then they would become visibly but silently angry trying to find words: which is difficult because the older women have been living this way all of their lives. One thing the supposedly fictionalized series in good humor,Big Love, managed to point out,is that they have no place to go when they are turned out of the polygamous marriage. Thus like many other women, they have that acceptance syndrome which I think my mother usually referred to as "If Life hands you lemons, what do you do? You make lemonade." I know she was not aware of the other side of the humor to this witticism because it takes somebody like Mary Kay Place, who played the Prophet's wife and "one and only record keeper" under her  own administration in her little office as first secretary.  Fact of the matter is that if you have been taught since day one to defer to men in the family then you continue to do so; and your entire culture --"from sea to shining sea" will exhibit men institutionally taking advantage of it as "the Norm".

I view the male legal forces interviewed, as being just short of hysterical themselves, people in the common social environment who were exposed to the reality of a colorful part of their civil historic culture and, claiming to understand it, attempt to do something about it.  But, it is an outside programmer or psychiatrist's field day).

Sometime in about 2005 -2006, we discussed the play of religion in American History, for which Bob had suggested the text by Kevin Phillips titled, American Theocracy: the Perils and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.

I started outlining it in a notebook as soon as I began to compare the population statistics in the years when the Mormon church of Latter Day Saints took an upsweep in past centuries.  Their larger proportion of population allows them to politically take over an area by the vote.

Much has been made recently off the Bush administration having set aside their original use of Fundamentalst affiliations now pooh-poohed but that is not entirely the truth. During these two terms the well-rewarded strict denominational churches as well as the Fundies have made considerable profits from kick backs, for having participated in the "faith based initiative". They now have much larger facilites as the result of the perqs received, and here in a less Roman Catholic part of  Pennsylvania they have politically got their fingers in the pie of where the chads fall. There are people in the local voting registry administration who thought this Heavenly situation would go on forever and they are freaking out in fear. You see, we still "go to Church" as our polling-place in which to vote because the Republican party made these facilities the largest best able to handle a crowd, kind of like Mary Kay Place.
(and,yes, I am looking forward to the production on HBO titled: Recount, starring Kevin Spacey,Tom Wilkinson,etc. on May 25th.)

I will see if I can locate the lengthy excerpts in these forums and, if not, will go back to the archives at NYRB; problem their policy needs to e-mail archival material.
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desdemona222b
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« Reply #254 on: April 21, 2008, 01:36:17 PM »

Interesting, maddie.

One aspect to the history of the LDS church that I found really amusing is the fact that Joseph Smith was a convicted con-artist.  In his youth, he claimed to be able to divine water - he used "peep stones" to find all kinds of things, supposedly.  You place a peep stone in your hat and then put your face, downwardly oriented, into the hat and the peep stone "shows you the way".  This is how he received the tablets from Moroni - the peep stone led him to the right place.   Roll Eyes
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