Old Favorites: Arthur Miller

We’re focusing on newer books, movies, and television shows for 2019, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely ignoring old favorites! After all, what’s that saying–what’s old may just become new again (or something like that)?

I’ve always loved reading plays–and especially mid-20th century American plays. My favorite playwright would probably be Tennessee Williams, but I also always enjoyed Arthur Miller’s work. Today marks 66 years since his play The Crucible premiered, and what better time to explore the life and career of this master of the American stage?

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Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove

lonesome-dove

We’ve been chatting a lot about our “first favorites” for the Great American Read and Great Berryville Read. Those are the first books on the list of 100 books that jump out at you as automatic favorites.

I had 3 instant picks, and the one I have been leaning toward the most is Larry McMurtry’s modern classic Western Lonesome Dove. I’ve discussed my love of Westerns before, but I really don’t think you can get much better than this one. (As far as Westerns go, the only thing that I think ties with it is possibly Ron Hansen’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, another personal favorite. But it didn’t make the list!)

Trying to summarize the plot doesn’t do this novel, which is rich in characters and themes, justice. But at its heart, it’s the story of two former Texas Rangers, bored and burnt out with retired life, setting off on a cattle drive from South Texas to Montana. Along the way, they encounter psychopathic killers, stampedes, storms, snakes, sorrow, and more.

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Oddly-Specific Genres: If They Can Write A Book, So Can You!

Are you ready to unleash your writing superpowers? That’s the theme of this November’s NaNoWriMo, the annual writing challenge that requires participants to write a novel in the span of 30 days.

Think you couldn’t write a book in 30 years, let alone 30 days?

Well, if these decidedly non-author celebrities can write fiction, why can’t you?

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From Page to Screen: Old Yeller

I’ve talked on here before about my hesitance concerning depressing animal books for children.

There are a lot of books/movies that could be added to the list of depressing animal stories for kids, and Old Yeller is definitely one of them.

However, even though it is the granddaddy of all depressing animal books for kids, it is a story that I have a soft spot for. In fact, I’ve reread it a few times and always enjoy it. I can’t deny that it is terribly sad, but I think it has a lot of good things to offer before it rips your heart out and depresses you for days.

Though the book is something I have revisited on numerous occasions as an adult, I have not watched the movie since I was a child. I remedied that this past weekend.

As always, beware–some spoilers do follow.

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From Page to Screen: Longmire

The fight is real . . . at least for Walt Longmire.  As sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, Walt never has a dull day as he works to solve crimes, contend with family, friends, coworkers, and confront the personal demons that have haunted him since the death of his wife.

Craig Johnson’s sheriff is the focus of a series of a books, as well as a popular television series. I have had numerous people recommend the books and the TV show to me, so comparing the first entries in both seemed perfect for our next “From Page to Screen” feature.

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Discussion Thread: Deadwood

This is what happens when a review is 13 years in the making. You’ll understand when you’ve read to the end!

Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time–or, for that matter, those of you who know me in person–probably realized pretty quickly that I have some odd hang-ups when it comes to pop culture. I prefer to think of them as eccentric, but really, that’s just to make me feel better about myself.

One I don’t think I have chatted about on here is my tendency to delay reading or watching something that I suspect I will like simply because I fear being disappointed by it.

So, instead of eagerly trying something that I am excited about like, I don’t know, a normal human being, I will procrastinate about it. And I’m not talking about a matter of days or weeks or months. I mean putting it off for years.

Such was my experiences with Deadwood, the 2004-2006 HBO show about the rough mining camp of Deadwood, South Dakota during its heyday in the 1870s. I first read about the show when it was airing. I was a teenager without access to HBO, but my curiosity was piqued. I love history, and as we established a couple of weeks ago, I also really like Westerns.

I’m also a big fan of several of the character actors in the cast, so knowing that there was a show that brought together the likes of Powers Boothe, Keith Carradine, Garret Dillahunt, Ray McKinnon, William Sanderson, Brian Cox, Zach Grenier, and Leon Rippy just made me ridiculously happy.

After I started working at the library, every time someone would check it out or return it, I’d think, “Oh yeah! I’ve wanted to watch that since I was a teenager. I should put that on hold.”

I also would stumble across discussions about it on pop culture websites, and I was always intrigued by the nostalgic tone its fans adopted when talking about. After reading any article and comment section devoted to Deadwood, I’d think to myself, “I really need to watch that show.”

But I kept putting it off and delaying because I also read about how the show was cancelled suddenly and doesn’t have a proper ending. I didn’t want to devote hours to something that would disappoint me.

I also secretly feared that I wouldn’t even like the earlier seasons before the cancellation was an issue, and for something that I had built up so much in my head, that was just something I couldn’t quite bear. So, I spent nearly 13 years not watching Deadwood but frequently thinking about watching it before late last year, when I finally decided that I was being ridiculous.

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Paulette Jiles’s News of the World

news-of-the-world

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd has a mission that he did not ask for nor one that he wishes, though he readily admits the necessity of his journey. A news reader who makes his living traveling between rough frontier towns in the tension-filled midst of Reconstruction-era Texas, he is asked to return a 10-year-old girl to her family. The child, Johanna, was captured by Kiowa years earlier and seems to have no memory of her former life or native language. She just wants to return to her adopted tribe and keeps trying to run away every chance she gets. As the two travel hundreds of miles together through a land beset by raiding parties and criminals, complications ensue.

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