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Monday, May 10, 2010

feels like saying goodbye to a good friend



Finished reading Lit last night. Feels like saying goodbye to a good friend.

Really good memoirs and novels feel like that. One reason why I like reading so much. I'm one of those people-who-need-people, people. Having a book in my lap, especially when written in the first person, feels like listening to a friend confide their deepest secrets.

As for Lit, it was another home run for Mary Karr. An an especially insightful read for those trying to understand alcohol abuse. Or trying to kick it.

Recovery, relapse, reconciling with an abusive parent, doing what it takes to stay sober. It's all there.

So I'm back to the novel I was reading when I got notice that Lit was ready at the library, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It's the story of an eccentric teacher at a girls school in Scotland, told through the eyes of the students.

Halfway through the book I was thinking it was not all that great. But then over the weekend, while planning my next read, I came across Brodie on one of TIME's 100 Best lists. Ok, so somebody thinks it's all that and a bag of chips. I'm determined to finish it since it's right there on my bedside table. Check off one more on their list.

Last night I read the passage where the students are attending sewing class. The girls see the sewing machine's needle go up-down-up-down, "which usually caused Sandy and Jenny to giggle, since at that time everything that could conceivably bear a sexual interpretation immediately did so to them."

I was immediately transported back to Catholic school. Sixth grade. Miss Napolitano's Geography class. Listening to a student drone aloud out of the textbook, about some South American country,their biggest export, rubber. My BFF and I caught a glance, laughed hysterically, trying not to, which only made us laugh more. Miss Napolitano saw us and rolled her eyes. Miss Napolitano was no Miss Jean Brodie.

And now I'm thinking of watching the movie, since it stars Maggie Smith. I fell in love with her when she played Miss Bartlett in A Room with a View, one of my all-time favorite movies. Smith must have played an equally excellent Miss Brodie, given her Oscar win as Best Actress for the role.



Has anyone seen the movie? Recommend it? And how about the book?

And readers, what are you reading now? Meeting any good friends lately?

15 comments:

onelongjourney said...

I follow your blog, but haven't posted before. Not read Mary Karr - one of my friends says the same about Caroline Knapp's memoirs - by the end of the books, you feel like best friends.

I've not read Prime of......

I've been on a nonfiction run - unusual for me.
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers - scary account of what can happen when the "normal" societal controls go missing.

Infidel by Hirsi

phd in yogurtry said...

onelongjourney -- Welcome and thanks for stepping out of the abyss and leaving a comment! Thanks for mentioning Knapp's memoirs. I'll have to take a look. Memoirs have that added zing over novels, because you're constantly reminding yourself, "and it really happened."

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm almost done with Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. I love his memoirs.

I am definitely reading Lit this summer.

phd in yogurtry said...

Jenn - I loved Angela's Ashes. Teacher Man is on my "to get" list. Thanks for reminding me.

Tammy said...

I just put Mary Karr's first book on hold at the library, can't wait to read it and all the others!

Professor J said...

I was in the play in college, but I never read the novel. I adore Maggie Smith, too. I may have to watch the movie, as well.

blognut said...

Okay, you talked me into adding it to my pile of unread books, but you should know when that pile gets bigger instead of smaller, I start getting a little stressed out.

sherry said...

I rushed out to buy Lit when it was first published. However, I've not yet read it. Why? Dunno. I loved her first memoir Liar's Club (it's often the memoir all other memoirs are measured by) and Cherry was pretty good.

Your raves will get this book into my hands pronto.

Salted with Shadows said...

I LOVED "Lit"--I've loved all three of her memoirs, but something about "Lit" spoke to me even more than the others.

Jocelyn said...

I saw the movie as a kid, and it has stuck with me (kind of like ROOTS did--same age, I think). You make me want to see it again.

Like you, I adored LIT. She is smart and funny and honest. Did you know she wrote a first version of that book--some two hundred+ pages--and then was unhappy with it, so she trashed it and started all over? I found that out when she was on Fresh Air with Teri Gross (worth looking up the archived podcast, in fact).

Mental P Mama said...

I am going to download those last two Karr books. I am still reading Game Change--about the 2008 elections. Love it!

Jason, as himself said...

I just started The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. They say it is really good and I'm hoping so because I'm ready for a book that will demand my attention!

Stacie said...

God I loved Maggie Smith in Evil Under the Sun!! From then on, I was hooked. Of course, her role in Harry Potter is high on my list as well. I now have two books to read because of you, my dear phd. I need some new stuff!

Susan said...

Loved the movie - one of my favorites.

I am reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith - just getting started. I read Liars Club and have Cherry and will read it this summer, then get Lit.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

For a memoir with some staying power & I-just-made-a-friend quality, I loved A Girl Named Zippy.

I'm with Jason (not literally) in starting Girl with A Dragon Tattoo; so far it's hard for me to feel connected but it is an interesting story.

I've not read or seen Miss Jane Brodie but know I should do both; maybe I'll be in high gear this summer...