Archive for the ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ Category

[READ: March 10, 2021] Things Are Against Us

I loved Ellmann’s book Ducks, Newburyport so much that I had intended to read all of her books.

So I’ve gone back and read some of her previous novels.  Which I found to be…okay.  They were mildly amusing with some very personal diatribes thrown in to put some passion into these otherwise comic novels.

Then I saw that she had a recent collection of essays, which I thought might be really interesting.

I agree about 95% with everything Ellmann says in this book.  And yet I hated this book more than almost anything I’ve read recently.  And I think I’m not going to bother reading the other novels that I haven’t read yet, since the other two weren’t that great anyhow.

Ellmann’s style in these essays is so unpleasant, so superior and self-righteous, so… (and I hate to use this word because of the anti-feminist implications of it but it is definitionally accurate) strident, that I almost didn’t finish most of the essays (I forced my way through to the end of all of them).  Strident, btw: “presenting a point of view, especially a controversial one, in an excessively and unpleasantly forceful way.  I mean, that is this book to a T.”

In the past, strident women have been very important to many movements.  But hen your arguments are so scattershot, it’s hard for your stridency to be a positive force.

“Things Are Against Us”
In this essay Ellmann all caps the word THINGS every time she writes it.  On the first page (which is half a page not including the title), THINGS appears over 30 times.  The tone is kind of amusing–about how things get in our way and cause us trouble: Things slip out of your hand; things trip you, things break.  Then each following paragraph gets more specific.  Clothes tear, socks don’t stay up.  Matches won’t light, water bottles spill. Then she gets into the body.  In her novel Doctors & Nurses she lists 12 pages of bodily ailments.  So there’s not much new here.  And there’s no real point.  It doesn’t end with any grand idea.  It just stops. (more…)

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honeySOUNDTRACK: HORRIBLE HISTORIES-“Charles Dickens” (2013).

dickensHorrible Histories is a British children’s show.  They tell you histories of people and things in fun ways. Like this.  (It sounds awesome).

This biography of Charles Dickens (which lyrically is amusing as well as informative) is done in the style of The Smiths.  The music is very clearly The Smiths and of course the singer hits all of the Morrisseyisms that he can.  In addition to some actual Smiths lines (Dickens take a bow, heaven knows I’m miserable now), the song more or less mashes up “Heaven Know I’m Miserable Now” and “This Charming Man.”

It’s very funny and catchy as well.  Check out the joy:

[READ: June 30, 2013] A Taste of Honey

I discovered this play because it was mentioned in a documentary about The Smiths,  It was one of Morrissey’s favorite movies; he quoted a line from it in “Reel Around the Fountain” (I dreamt about you last night and fell out of bed twice”) and the song “This Night Has Opened My Eyes” is basically a summary of the play (with lines from it).

It’s a fairly modern story for 1959 England (Delaney was 18 when she wrote it), but it seems like rather a downer to be a favorite film/play.

It is the story of Jo, a young girl who is stuck in the dreaded life of living poor in Manchester (The river the color of lead).  She has no father around and her mother, Helen, (described as as a semi-whore (!), is quite unpleasant). Indeed, the opening scene of the play is the two of them bickering in a hole in the wall flat that feels dirty just by reading it.

Eventually a man comes along who promises to take Helen away from all of this.  He may be her pimp (specifics are not really given in the story and I wondered if they would be more obvious if it was 1959 (or in the movie).  But it’s clear that he has money and seems to be willing to bring Helen home.  At the same time, he is terribly mean to Jo–treating her worse than her mother does.  By the end of the scene, he takes Helen away, leaving Jo on her own. (more…)

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