Sunday, December 20, 2020

Updike's Witches


I recently did something that I think I have never done before ... I read a couple books and then immediately watched the movie made from one of them. I no longer remember what inspired me to pull from the library stacks The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. But this late fall, I was off and running/reading.

I have read Updike before. I read several of his books prior to introducing him at the Connecticut Library Association Annual Conference in 2000. After the Conference, I also read the book he was promoting at that time (Gertrude and Claudius) as well as an older collection (Bech is Back - which he most thoughtfully inscribed to me).

This time I did the following in this order:

  1. Read The Witches of Eastwick
  2. Read The Widows of Eastwick
  3. Watched the movie: "The Witches of Eastwick"

The action in The Widows takes place 30 years after the activities of The Witches. The Widows is an interesting take on the aging process, in addition to the other themes which follow from one book to the other. The theme of aging and those changes is a one which Updike explores in other works (most notably to me, the Rabbit series).

I was disappointed and disturbed by the movie adaptation. In both of the books, the women characters (Sukie, Jane, and Alexandra) are portrayed as strong women with a bond with each other, and having developed/found their unique skills which are most powerful when they are together. Darryl as a character arrives in Eastwick after there has already been action from the women. In the movie, however, Darryl (played by Jack Nicholson) is portrayed as the force which develops and binds the women's powers.

In the Wikipedia entry on The Witches (the book) it notes:

Updike described his novel as "about female power, a power that patriarchal societies have denied." Many scholars viewed it as strongly pro-feminist, "an intelligent engagement with feminism, and a rare case of a male novelist writing from women's points of view." Some have expressed concern that the book may be misogynistic, as it seems to reinforce the patriarchal conceptions of women as witches and of women requiring a man for personal growth; others believe that the book may be more of a satire of such ideas.

The movie clearly takes a different tack, as a vehicle for Nicholson, and focuses on his presence as the driving force - and the ending of the movie is a dramatic difference from the book - having repurposed one of the plot lines.

It has been interesting.

I will also confess, that part of the attraction for me was the setting. Eastwick is a fictional town on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. It is a setting with which I am familiar. I could see the setting in my minds' eye ... could hear the voices (and accents) ... could almost smell the salt air, and the mustiness endemic to older, wooden-framed homes near the salt-water coast.

I recommend the books - both of them. The movie, not so much.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

ALA Midwinter 2020 - Philadelphia

Here is my tentative schedule for ALA Midwinter. Note that it is still tentative!


I am flying in on Thursday (1/23) and leaving on the 28th. (Note: I have not figured out how to make "Agenda" the default view.") Clicking on any event will show details. And do note the time zone note on the bottom. Here, I am seeing things in the Central Time zone, not sure how true that is for others.



Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Books Read 2019

Here is the list of books I read in 2019.
    Basket Case: A Novel by Carl Hiaasen [library book]
    Major Taylor: The extraordinary career of a champion bicycle racer by Andrew Ritchie [library book]
    The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell ARC
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rosemary Wells
    Little Altars Everywhere by Rosemary Wells signed
    Failure to Launch: Why Your Twentysomething Hasn't Grown Up.. and What to Do About It by Mark McConville, Ph.D. ARC
    Seeing My Skin (A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness) by Peter Jarrett-Schell, Review ARC
    Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats words by Eckhart Tolle, art by Patrick McDonnell
    Stray City: A Novel by Chelsey Johnson signed
    Contemplative Vision: Photography as a Spiritual Practice by Dirk deVries
    Mina's Guide to Minute Taking: Principles, Standards, & Practical Tools by Eli Mina
    Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming
    The Nature of Life and Death: Every Body Leaves a Trace by Patricia Wiltshire ARC
    If You Want To Make God Laugh: A Novel by Bianca Marais ARC
    Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt ARC
    Astro-Nuts by Jon Scieszka and {the other} Steven Weinberg ARC
    The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcarcel
    Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic
    No Exit: a novel by Taylor Adams
    Food Rules: an Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan
    Jazz Scrapbook by Bill Russell and Some Highly Musical Friends
    The House in Poplar Wood by K. E. Ormsbee YA - ARC
    Five Days at Memorial by Sherry Fink
    Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault by Cathy Guisewite ARC
    Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman ARC

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Seeing My Skin - a review

Jarrett-Schell, Peter, Seeing My Skin: (A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness) [New York]: Church Publishing, [August 17] 2019.

I picked this up as an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) at ALA this summer. In unusual fashion, I actually was reading it as the publication date arrived. It has made me stop and think about many of the things I think, say, and do.

The book opens with an incredibly powerful vignette of an actual event, and is the author's Facebook posting of that event. The rest of the book is divided by location and starts with a series of vignettes, followed by a “debriefing.”

The stories tell of his experiences of the racial divide and his reactions to what he has experienced. It starts with his growing up, and ends with incidents after the most recent presidential election. The debriefing section of each chapter is probably the most powerful.

The author is an Episcopal priest who met his wife in college. She is also an ordained Episcopal priest. He is white, she is black.

I think this a book which I want to sit and read again … that doesn’t often happen.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

ALA Annual - DC


Here is the semi-annual posting of my schedule ... Right now, this matches the version of the calendar in the ALA Scheduler, and lives both on Google Calendar and in my personal Outlook calendar. It is still tentative! There are overlapping meetings. Some of the decisions are "game day" decisions based on location and priority in my work/ALA life. I am the incoming chair of the ALA Membership Meetings Committee, so that meeting along with the Membership Meeting itself take priority. As the ASGCLA Division Councilor, Council and the ASGCLA Board get priority, too.

I get to town early, and will actually do some tourist things during the day on Thursday!

Clicking on any event will show details. Also clicking on "ALA" opens the calendar for that day. I have figured out how to show the Agenda ... this is a work in progress as I jump into HTML editing to make it look the way I want!

And do note the time zone note on the bottom. I have entered the correct time zone in the calendar ... so we will see how that works out for me. I may have mastered this!