ORPHAN BLACK, THIRD SEASON PREMIERE

Orphan-Black-Season-31
I’m looking forward to tonight’s opening episode! ORPHAN BLACK revolves around a group of clones (all played wonderfully by Tatiana Maslany). The convoluted plots increased last season to the point of confusion. More secrets bring more clones. This is a series you have to watch from the beginning episode or you’ll be lost. Fortunately, AMAZON is offering Season One of Orphan Black for free. If you’re not addicted by the end of Season One, this isn’t the series for you.

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #316: THE FORERUNNER SERIES By Andre Norton

storm over warlock
ordeal in otherwhere
forerunner foray
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forerunner the second venture
I had so much fun rereading Andre Norton’s Solar Queen series, I decided to revisit one of her other science fiction series: the Forerunner series. The Forerunners were an alien race that preceded humanity in space by thousands of years. They possessed incredible technology. But a war destroyed the mysterious race and obliterated most of their presence on the planets they had colonized. But humans find remnants of Forerunner technology which, of course, causes all sorts of problems.

Storm Over Warlock is the first book in the Forerunner series. It had a classic EMSH cover of Survey survivor Shann Lantee who manages not to be killed with the insect-like aliens, The Throg, attack the human base on the weird planet of Warlock. The series takes a lot of twists as turns over the decades. If you’re looking for a Young Adult SF series with action and adventure, you might try these entertaining novels.
THE FORERUNNER SERIES:
Storm Over Warlock (1960)
Ordeal in Otherwhere (1964)
Forerunner Foray (1973)
Forerunner (first book published by TOR Books) (1981)
Forerunner: The Second Venture (1985)

READING HENRY JAMES By Louis Auchincloss and ALL A NOVELIST NEEDS: COLM TOIBIN ON HENRY JAMES

reading henry james
colm toibin on henry james
After rereading The Golden Bowl, I reread Louis Auchincloss’s excellent collection of essays, Reading Henry James (1975). I read Auchincloss’s lucid essays on Henry James when I was working on my dissertation. There are thousands of essays on Henry James, but Auchincloss’s essays contain the reflections of a working writer. If you’re looking for an overview of all of Henry James’s work, Reading Henry James is the best book on the subject that I’ve ever read.

The Wall Street Journal Book Club has Colm Toibin moderating this month’s activities surrounding The Golden Bowl so I decided to read Toibin’s book of essays on Henry James: All a Novelist Needs (2010). Toibin’s book lacks the comprehensive quality of Auchincloss’s, but Toibin has plenty of insights into Henry James and his work. Clearly, here is another working author who has pondered the style and oeuvre of James deeply. If you’re a fan of Henry James, I recommend both books. GRADE: A (for both)
Reading Henry James: TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Henry James: The Man and Artist
The Notebooks
The Early Stories
Roderick Hudson and The American
Washington Square and “The Aspern Papers”
The International Situation: The Portrait of a Lady
The Social Novels: The Princess Casamassima and The Bostonians
The Artist and Writer in James’s Fiction: The Tragic Muse
The Ghost Stories
The Theater Years
The Revulsion from Sex: The Awkward Age and What Maisie Knew
The Spoils of Poynton: Prelude to the Major Phase
The “Villains” of the Major Phase
The Virtuous Attachment: The Ambassadors
James’s Literary Use of His American Tour
The Memoirs
The Critic
Index
All a Novelist Needs: Colm Toibin on Henry James: TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgments / p. vii
• Introduction / Griffin, Susan M. / p. ix
• Henry James in Ireland: A Footnote / p. 1
• The Haunting of Lamb House / p. 18
• A More Elaborate Web: Becoming Henry James / p. 24
• Pure Evil: “The Turn of the Screw” / p. 38
• The Lessons of the Master / p. 45
• Henry James’s New York / p. 49
• A Death, a Book, an Apartment: The Portrait of a Lady / p. 72
• Reflective Biography / p. 80
• A Bundle of Letters / p. 89
• All a Novelist Needs / p. 107
• The Later Jameses / p. 113
• Afterword: Silence / p. 128
• Index / p. 143

THE GOLDEN BOWL By Henry James

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It seems appropriate on this Tax Deadline day, that the Wall Street Journal Book Club is discussing this month’s book: Henry James’s The Golden Bowl. For a 100 years, The Golden Bowl has been taxing the patience of readers. Henry James wrote the book as part of his experiment to explore the “consciousness” of his characters. So readers have to grapple with interior monologues and pages stream-of-consciousness writing. The actual story, surprisingly, is fairly simple. Prince Amerigo, a poor but charismatic Italian nobleman, marries Maggie Verver, the only child of fabulously wealthy Adam Verver. Adam Verver, marries Prince Amerigo’s former lover, Charlotte Stant. And, as you might have figured out, The Prince and Charlotte resume their relationship. Many readers find Henry James’s “Late Style” tough to get through. I struggled with this book each time I read it. I’m convinced part of the problem is James’s dictation of his work at this period of time. James found he could no longer hold a pen (carpel tunnel?) so he hired a secretary to take dictation as he continued to produce novels and essays. This dictation method may have led to the convoluted sentences and ornate style. Adultery was never more subdued or anesthetized.

BATMAN VS. ROBIN [Blu-ray]

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Here’s another in the new DC “reboot” of classic superheroes. Batman vs. Robin is the sequel to Son of Batman. The story continues with the discovery of a secret society (Court of Owls). The Court of Owls plans to take control of Gotham by turning Robin (Damian) against his father, Batman. Damian needs to decide between his father’s visions for him and those of Ra’s Al Ghul. If you’re a fan of the Batman and Robin adventures, here’s another installment to enjoy. GRADE: B+

A FINE DESSERT: FOUR CENTURIES, FOUR FAMILIES, ONE DELICIOUS TREAT By Emily Jenkins & Sophie Blackall

a fine dessert
This lovely children’s book tells the story of how a dessert called a “Blackberry Fool” was prepared over hundreds of years. It shows the lifestyles of the families and the changes in society and technology over time. Emily Jenkins includes a brief essay on how she came to write A Fine Dessert. She includes a recipe for those readers who are motivated to try this yummy dessert. Illustrator Sophie Blackall includes an essay about her process in drawing households spanning four hundred years. I found her web site at sophieblackall.com/illustration/books delightful. GRADE: A

COMING FORTH BY DAY By Cassandra Wilson

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Generally, I’m not a fan of tribute albums. But Cassandra Wilson’s Coming Forth By Day, a tribute to Billie Haliday (and to commemorate her 100th Birthday), is something special. Coming Forth By Day, produced by Nick Launay who worked with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, has a contemporary sound. Van Dyke Parks (remember him?) does the string arrangements. T Bone Burnett, Kevin Breit, and Nick Zinner ( of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) play guitars. As you can see, Coming Forth By Day is an All-Star affair. Great sound! I’ve seen Cassandra Wilson in concert twice. She’s amazing! If you’re a Billy Holliday fan, or a Cassandra Wilson fan, this is a must-buy. GRADE: A
TRACK LIST:
1 Don’t Explain
2 Billie’s Blues
3 Crazy He Calls Me
4 You Go To My Head
5 All of Me
6 The Way You Look Tonight
7 Good Morning Heartache
8 What a Little Moonlight Can Do
9 These Foolish Things
10 Strange Fruit
11 I’ll Be Seeing You
12 Last Song (For Lester)

DAREDEVIL [Netflix]

Daredevil-Netflix
Daredevil is a bold experiment by MARVEL and Netflix. This 13-episode mini-series launches what will be the first program in a Grand Design. Charlie Cox plays Matt Murdock, a blind attorney by day, and Daredevil at night. Elden Henson provides comic relief as Foggy Nelson, Murdock’s law partner. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, but I’m impressed with the attention to detail in providing the background to Matt Murdock’s journey to become a crime fighter despite his blindness. Soon, Netflix will present Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. Then, all these MARVEL characters will band together in a mini-series called The Defenders. Disney, which now owns the MARVEL Universe, is betting a lot of money that all of this will work out. After watching Daredevil, I’d say they’re off to a good start. GRADE: B+

FORGOTTEN BOOKS #315: DANGER IS MY BUSINESS By Lee Server

danger is my business
I enjoyed Lee Server’s OVER MY DEAD BODY:THE SENSATIONAL AGE OF THE AMERICAN PAPERBACK, 1945-1955 so much that I ordered and read Server’s Danger is My Business: An Illustrated Histoy of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines: 1896-1953. Plenty of great cover artwork is here in glorious color: Weird Tales, Black Mask, The Shadow, and Doc Savage are well represented. But Server includes some more obscure pulp magazines, too: Ghost Stories, Night Life, and G-Men. If you’re a fan of pulp magazines, you’ll find plenty here to amuse you. Copies can be found online for a pittance.

PIONEERS & CARETAKERS: A STUDY OF 9 AMERICAN WOMEN NOVELISTS By Louis Auchincloss

pioneers and caretakers
I’m been a fan of Louis Auchincloss for decades. No one except F. Scott Fitzgerald has so accurately captured the world of the moneyed class so well in stories and novels. In addition to his fiction, Auchincloss’s canniness in essays both enlightens and entertains. This volume was first published in 1965. Auchincloss celebrated women writers long before it became fashionable. After reading about these nine wonderful writers, I felt like dropping everything and read a bunch of their books. A casual reader will find these plainly written essays informative and intriguing. Highly recommended! GRADE: A
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Pioneers & Caretakers
Sarah Orne Jewett
Edith Wharton
Ellen Glasgow
Willa Cather
Elizabeth Madox Roberts
Katherine Anne Porter
Jean Stafford
Carson McCullers
Mary McCarthy
Index