Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Roaring Twenties Lives On

So for the past 9 months or maybe longer, my head's been stuck in 1920's for a number of reasons. And, I don't want to leave.

F Scott Fitzgerald 
I randomly picked up a collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories last year at the library. I was bored with the new books, and I crave classic literature. His writing is like a photograph, a snapshot of an era capturing its values and its mood.
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: I've seen the Brad Pitt movie a few times and really the only correlation to the original short story is the concept of reverse aging. The original story is funny, ridiculous and sad at the same time. The movie obviously draws it out and captures the emotional struggles. The short story has Benjamin's father forcing the old man to play toys while he's a cranky old man. I don't want to say any more about it because it's quite short and worth reading.

- Bernice Bobs Her Hair: This was the story I started reading while I was at the library and it pulled me into it.The story is regarding female relationships, how men perceived women and especially what it meant for a woman to cut her hair.

-Diamond Big as the Ritz: I was just amazed reading this story. Fitzgerald wrote this as a satirical fantasy, but it touches on class, race and gender issues.

-The Ice Palace: I liked this one because it emphasizes the Red vs Blue state divide. It's not a new division like the media pundits want you to believe. It's always been there. However, we're so homogenized today technological advancements, which is why it doesn't make sense. You can watch American Idol and have a Domino's pizza delivered pretty much anywhere in the country. Back then, southerners were different than northerners in terms of lifestyle and values. Think about the distance itself. Today, we're schlepping all over the country for 1 day meetings. Back then, one took the train it took days to get to the other side. I'm not saying we don't have cultural differences today -  you're not going to find fried okra in Brooklyn and you can't find a good bagel south of MD. "Ice Palace" is a story about a southern flower who ends up in the northern ice palace and can't breathe. It was a significant culture clash, and more animosity than it would be today. Her guy friends feel like she's betraying them for marrying a northerner.

By the way, just about every heroine in these stories is luscious rose of 17-19 years old and eager to get engaged, but supposedly, one is still able to flirt when engaged. Eventually, one gets married and she's pretty much done. Unless of course, her husband dies and the former love interest has an entree into her life again.  I don't know if this was representative of the era or if this was Fitzgerald's selling point for stories published in the Saturday Evening Post.

Midnight in Paris
So, this movie is absolutely lovely in so many ways - Owen Wilson, Woody Allen, Rachel McAdams, Paris, literary and art references, Marion Cotillard, Paris, Owen Wilson and Paris at midnight.

This movie is PG13 so if I were a high school teacher, I'd definitely encourage students to watch this. I've let my daughter watch certain parts of this, though I think a lot would still go over her head. I've always exposed her to art, so Van Gogh and Monet should be part of her vocabulary. I hadn't heard of Impressionism until a high school field trip to Princeton art museum.

When we were watching this, we pulled out the iPad and googled artists and books ("what was Hemingway's first book?" "Who was Luis Bunuel?"

Fortunately, the research was already done here with a list of the references.

This timing of this movie was perfect for me because I loved seeing my boy Scott Fitzgerald portrayed on screen. By the way, I have to learn more about Scott & Zelda. I've read his work, and now I need to understand more about the woman in his life. 

Speaking of Paris and Marion Cotillard, "La Vie En Rose" about Edith Piaf is a must see. She does an absolutely stunning portrayal of Edith Piaf. Actually, this woman could give a stunning portrayal of a shoebox, so it doesn't matter.

The Last Nude

I saw this book by Ellis Avery reviewed in "O" magazine and I wondered to myself why I never read the books suggested. So, at the library, I happened upon this book by Ellis and just picked it up. It's a story about a young American girl who becomes a model for an artist in pre-WWII Paris.  Until I saw the book's
website, I didn't realize Tamara De Lempicka was an actual art deco artist and really represented this style. The book dives into the relationship between artist and model, artist and partons, and how when you're surviving from the gut emotions get in the way. The story is definitely erotic and romantic, and feeds into the romanticism of that era. But, throwing in a kick of reality with political undertones.

I wasn't thrilled with the way the author had 75% of the book told from the point of view of the model, but then had the last 25% in the artist's voice 60 years later. That was disruptive. Her voice should've been used throughout the story, but then it may have interrupted Rafaela's story and how things were revealed to her in time. Also, I did get confused between some of the characters. Maybe that's just me, and I don't need additional art fans and friends inside the story unless they have a purpose.

By the way, Rafaela is 17 in the story. When did heroines start aging?

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