Friday, March 14, 2014
Evanston: OFFSHORE; Lusi; A LATE QUARTET; 'L'
Before the coming of the Kindle and the iPad, I felt the need for more bookshelves in our condo. No longer. Now the shelf on which I kept books bought but not yet read holds only one: THE CORNISH TRILOGY by the Canadian, Robertson Davies, whose DEPTFORD TRILOGY I read a few years ago and very much admire.
I’m going to take THE CORNISH TRILOGY with me to GANNET and read it at sea. It will be the only printed book on board.
Saving the ebooks on my Kindle and iPad mini for the voyage, I’m rereading some of the others on my shelves, and just finished Penelope Fitzgerald’s OFFSHORE.
The title is clever because the characters are physically only slightly offshore, most living aboard deteriorating Thames sailing barges—the kind that though 80’ or 90’ long could be handled by “a man, a boy, and a dog”—moored to the south bank of the Thames near Battersea Bridge in 1961-62; yet in other ways they are far adrift. There are husbands who don’t want to live aboard; wives who don’t want to live aboard. Troubled marriages. Two quite likable children. And other eccentrics and misfits. As you should expect, coming from me that is compliment, not criticism.
I don’t want to make the book sound dark. It isn’t. Penelope Fitzgerald was a fine writer and OFFSHORE is a short, very enjoyable read, with a storm providing an original and perfect ending.
Of storms, a serious one is about to reach New Zealand, the still powerful remnants of Cyclone Lusi. The above image is from the Earth Wind Map an hour ago. Lusi will bring heavy rain and Force 12 wind gusting 120-130 kilometers/65-70 knots.
I hope those of you there remain dry and safe.
I don’t understand how the film, A LATE QUARTET, which I watched last evening streamed from Netflix, ever managed to be made. But I’m very glad it was.
A member of a renowned string quartet learns that he is developing Parkinson’s Disease. The end of his career, finding a replacement, a desire by the second violinist sometimes to play first violin, and some sex, all ensue.
What makes all this so watchable is the acting—the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ivanir, are all excellent—and the insight into the professional passion, even obsession, of musicians on this level, ceaselessly striving for understanding and perfection. To be thus obsessed is a gift, and a curse.
You can find Roger Ebert’s review here.
And, again, a perfect ending.
From THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY
labor: one of the processes by which A acquires property for B.
lawyer: one skilled in circumvention of the law.
liar: a lawyer with a roving commission.
lighthouse: a tall building on the seashore in which the government maintains a lamp and the friend of a politician.
litigation: a machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
logic: the art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.
love: a temporary insanity curable by marriage.