Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
The Garden Party
by Donald Davies
Above a stretch of still unravaged weald
In our Black Country, in a cedar-shade,
I found, shared out in tennis courts, a field
Where children of the local magnates played.
And I grew envious of their moneyed ease
In Scott Fitzgerald’s unembarrassed vein.
Let prigs, I thought, fool others as they please,
I only wish I had my time again.
To crown a situation as contrived
As any in ‘The Beautiful and Damned’,
The phantom of my earliest love arrived;
I shook absurdly as I shook her hand.
As dusk drew in on cultivated cries,
Faces hung pearls upon a cedar-bough;
And gin could blur the glitter of her eyes,
But it’s too late to learn to tango now.
My father, of a more submissive school,
Remarks the rich themselves are always sad.
There is that sort of equalizing rule;
But theirs is all the youth we might have had.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
P. D. James, who was probably born a formidable older woman, penned this short history and critique of the detective novel. She's in her nineties now and her writing is as sharp and flawless as ever. It's a quick read, more informative than opinionated, although she makes it clear the authors and the novels that she finds most indispensable. But the real pleasure in reading the book is in reading an author who has never written an awkward sentence in her life. And she also makes it abundantly apparent how much she loves and reveres the genre she works in.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The Somerville Theatre right in my neighborhood. It's the story of a spoiled rich kid (played flawlessly by Freddie Bartholomew) who tumbles overboard an ocean liner going to Europe and winds up living on a Gloucester fishing schooner in the Grand Banks for three months. It's a Kipling novel and of course the boy, under the influence of the gruff fishermen, becomes a man. He sparks a particularly deep relationship with Manuel, a Portuguese fisherman played by Spencer Tracy. Tracy uses a bizarre accent and has a bad perm but it doesn't matter because his portrayal is so heartfelt. He forms a genuine fatherly bond with his "little fish." My favorite part of the film was the little details of fishing at that time, plus the shots around Gloucester, particularly by the fisherman's statue. A much better movie than A Perfect Storm.
Monday, June 20, 2011
by Dana Gioia
We stood on the rented patio
While the party went on inside.
You knew the groom from college.
I was a friend of the bride.
We hugged the brownstone wall behind us
To keep our dress clothes dry
And watched the sudden summer storm
Floodlit against the sky.
The rain was like a waterfall
Of brilliant beaded light,
Cool and silent as the stars
The storm hid from the night.
To my surprise you took my arm—
A gesture you didn’t explain—
And we spoke in whispers, as if we two
Might imitate the rain.
Then suddenly the storm receded
As swiftly as it came.
The doors behind us opened up.
The hostess called your name.
I watched you merge into the group,
Aloof and yet polite.
We didn’t speak another word
Except to say goodnight.
Why does that evening’s memory
Return with this night’s storm—
A party twenty years ago,
Its disappointments warm?
There are so many might have beens,
What ifs that won’t stay buried,
Other cities, other jobs,
Strangers we might have married.
And memory insists on pining
For places it never went,
As if life would be happier
Just by being different.