Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase

by Marion Meade

I was first introduced to Buster Keaton's work in college. I had sated myself with all things Marx Brothers and was interested in checking out other film comedians. When I saw an ad at school for a screening of The General, I caught the show and subsequently started devouring all things Buster. Eventually I saw all the major films and read all the biographies, so I moved onto other things. But recently I felt an urge to check out one of the biographies written since my Keaton fad and picked up Ms. Meade's book.

Cut to the Chase focuses more on Buster's personal life than his filmmaking. Ms. Meade tells the story of the boy who starred in vaudeville, the young man who created some of the best films of the silent era, and the older man who struggled with alcoholism and managed to work in show business until his dying day. She somewhat spoiled the idyllic picture I had in my mind of Buster's early years, knocking him and his friends and family down off the pedestal I had them on. I also think she did a better job of presenting Keaton's life in its overall historical context. (As opposed to its Hollywood historical context.) Of, course it has been over 20 years since I've read Blesh's and Dardis' efforts, so take the comparisons with a grain of salt. 

So glad I checked it out. Now I've got to watch some movies.
LibraryThing link


Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens

I feel bad. I should say something substantial about this classic work of literature, but I really don't have anything to say. I read it. It started slow, but I ended up enjoying it. But I'm not going to rush out and buy a copy. (Well, actually, I do happen to own the copy that I read, but that's only because I had to buy it for the kids' schooling.)

Do check it out.
LibraryThing link

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Christianity in Latin America

by Ondina and Justo González

Among the history books on my shelf are works covering general church history (with a strong European focus), Christianity in Asia, Africa, the United States and Canada. Having read all of these, it was inevitable that I should try to read up on what happened in the church in South America.* The uncle and niece team of Justo and Ondina González have put together a wonderful little book which does a good job of covering the past 500+ years of Christianity in Latin America. After presenting the theological and social state of the church in the Iberian peninsula in the late 1400s, the doctors González show how the religion was planted and grew amongst the natives of and immigrants to those areas of the Americas conquered by Spain and Portugal. They also show how the church in turn was affected by the Christians of Latin America. At 310 pages, it's not an exhaustive study. But it does give an excellent overview that's written with a view and respect for believers amongst the rulers and oppressed alike. It's a book that I'll definitely try to add to my collection.
* Of course, it took my wife to actually obtain such a volume in a timely manner, but we won't go there.

LibraryThing link


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