Do the Right Thing

I haven’t seen “Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire,” but I’m going to. And if you’ve ever complained about the poor quality of American movies you should too. If you’re sick of “10 Things He Just Not That Into American Pie is New in Town,” then you have an obligation to, every once in a while, see a film that gets to you a bit by showing you the world of the kind of person you’ve probably never met—in this case an overweight, African-American teenager abused by both her mother and father.

I know. Tough sell, right? Everyone knows. This is not a feel-good-luck-at-us-we-elected-Obama-movie. It’s going to be hard. But give it a chance. With three big awards from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it has an impressive resume.

And, yes, you should see it because black films have a tough time making it to screen or being taken seriously when they do. Tyler Perry had to BUILD HIS OWN STUDIO to make sure he could make movies, and his films are huge blockbuster hits (seriously, his movies are regularly at the top of the box office, though they are regularly showing on fewer screens than “mainstream” movies).

I know what you’re thinking, “Tricia, I can’t relate to that story” and “life is hard enough; I go to the movies to escape.” But you don’t. You see movies about tough subjects all the time. Ricky Gervais was the wise-jester when he told Kate Winslet to do a Holocaust film in order to win major awards. He was right. And you do like movies with black people—namely anything starring Will Smith (and who can blame you?).

This is not that kind of film. It’s also not a Saturday night movie. Go to a Saturday matinee. And then plan to have a glass of wine in a lovely bar or, if your me, a proper cream tea. Who knows, your “escape” could make you more compassionate, more aware, more thankful for where you are. Supporting compelling storytelling is your responsibility as a movie goer (okay, so sometimes I get preachy. Sue me!)

Do the right thing.

When it comes out, go see it. And then tell me about it. And (maybe) I’ll treat you to “IronBatSpiderMan XI.”


Jesus Drank a Little Too!

I’m a fan of Andrew Sullivan’s blog and check it regularly throughout the day. He tends to focus on a few topics rather than trying to comment on everything, and I think he’s better on the page then he is on radio or television. He also includes “Mental Health Breaks” that are often funny and always interesting. Meet Gladys. She makes me think that getting older could be more fun than I imagined.

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

One year as his wife, and I’d have become one of those abject women who look at their husbands when someone asks them a question. I’ve always despised that type, but I see how it happens now.

I’m a sucker for a good title, so when my friend Dom (short for Dominique not Dominatrix, though I do have a friend who rightfully owns the latter label) said she was reading a book called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society my interest was piqued. When she said it was about a writer who was more interested in books than marriage, I drove to the bookstore (local, independent…ahem) and bought it in hard cover. I was pretty sure of its ending before I even picked it up, but that didn’t lessen the pleasure of a novel that is charming without ever crossing the line into precious.

This epistolary novel is set in the aftermath of World War II, and the heroine Juliet Ashton is an unthinkable thing—a happily single woman in her early 30s. On a book tour promoting a collection of pithy essays she wrote during the war, she receives a letter from a resident of the Guernsey Islands who found her name in a book by Charles Lamb. As a woman who once bought a novel simply because a cute guy recommended it to me, my reader’s heart flipped a bit, and I did something I rarely do with books I read simply for pleasure: I slowed down.

I am a disgustingly fast reader, but some books want you to take them slowly, and this is one of them. This is in part because it’s a book about friendships and community. And in between the charming and the romantic, the history of the German occupation of Guernsey left me a little breathless. I couldn’t rush through those parts anymore than I could walk quickly past a graveyard. One letter in the novel actually made me cry, something I never do over books, especially on a rush-hour train when my feet are cold. Another letter made me gasp over pancakes at my favorite diner.

Let me confess here that I am not a fan of modern fiction with its thinly veiled narcissism and graceless prose, but every once in a while a modern novel will pull me in, and I can tell when it happens because I get nervous that it will let me down, fall into some storytelling trap that leaves me feeling flat. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society didn’t. It helps that it has all the right literary references on its side–Chaucer, Lamb, Austen, and the much-ignored Anne Bronte. How could I not be seduced? When I finished it, I let out a little sigh, closed my eyes, and imagined myself somewhere else.