Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sarah Phillips, If You Want to Write, La Bella Figura and Nip/Tuck

I read three books this past week.

SARAH PHILLIPS by Andrea Lee. I ordered this book after reading LOST HEARTS and an agent at ICM suggested I check it out. I wished I had read this back at S.U.

The book is a collection of stories that ran in the New Yorker. Since this book was published there have been other books sent in this world but Sarah broke the mold. Lee's protagonist is a black woman born in the 50's to a well off family in Philly. Sarah attended a prep school, lived abroad and has a P.O.V. different from most of her peers.

If this book had been required reading in my AAS (afro-american studies) class at Syracuse back in the late 80's, Sarah would have been dismissed as a confused Oreo. She doesn't fit in any boxes. I like that she is a complex character. Not sure why in this country (though it's changing a little, see Kayne West and Pharell), the only authenic black expericence is the urban and/or poor one. I remember when the Cosby show first came out, one of the big complaints was that it was unrealistic. They weren't really black. I have heard people say that. What the fuck does that mean? I'm sure when Dr. Huxtable tried to get a cab, they still passed him by. The only thing only unrealistic about the show was that a family with five kids and two parents working full-time had no maid. The Jefferson's had one, and Lionel was grown.

IF YOU WANT TO WRITE by Brenda Ueland. I received this book as a birthday gift (thanks Jc in NYC). It was very postive and helpful. Brenda was born in 1891 so it's a trip to read about her writing classes and the students in them. Some of the advice is a little dated but at its core the book is about taping into your creativity.

LA BELLA FIGURA, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind by Beppe Severgnini. This was another birthday gift (thanks Corrina) I wasn't crazy about the format of the book but found parts of it very funny and true. For example in America a red light means stop. An Italian red light is an invitation for reflection. "Let's think about this red light. What kind of red is it? A pedestrian red? But it's seven in the morning. There are no pedestrians about this early. that means it's a negotiable red; it's a not-quite red. So we can go." Another line I liked was "Italy has too much style to be hell but is too disorderly to be heaven." If you have spent any time in Italy pick up this book.

Nip/Tuck, hello old friend. I stopped watching this last season. I thought the whole carver story line was over the top and I really disliked Sean and Julia's freaky son. It seem like all the humanity was sucked out of the characters last season. I happened to watch it last night. I remember reading in the trades that Sanaa was going to be on the show this season and I wanted to see what her character was about. I might have to start watching again. Christian Troy is still vain but I laughed out several times last night. As always, the music selection was outstanding.

1 comment:

gibber said...

The Italian "red light" sounds much like the Puerto Rican "red light." In San Juan at night, NO ONE stops for red lights. Cops don't, civilians don't. It's hilarious. And a little scary.

That's true about the Cosby's and the maid thing. Really, they would have had at least a part-time nanny up in there!

I think Kanye, Lupe Fiasco, Pharrell and others help, but not enough. With 50, the Game and others, it still seems like the urban black life is the only authentic one.