Monday, June 11, 2007

round up

- Last week I went to the "Voices from South Africa" reading at the Housing Works used book store/café - three South African writers giving short readings from their works, about twenty minutes each. I only thought one of them was any good, a poet whose first poem, called "True" was about a carpenter making true, straight lines while preparing to tile a bathroom. It really pulled a lot out of the pun - like the French type of puns, which are meaningful, rather than the American type, which are funny - in a very understated, sensitive way. As my major carpentry accomplishment is tiling the upstairs bathroom of the family farmhouse in Kentucky, I remembered all of the kneeling and slow labor that goes into it. Though, frankly, I doubt any of my lines were true. The other two readers were ok, but not extraordinary.

- Finished Paco Underhill's Why We Buy, an interesting guide to how retailers do, or should, try to get the most out of their customers - secrets to managing multiple target audiences, to encourage impulse buys, etc. An interesting primer for anyone who spends a lot of time in stores, and wonders how and why they are organized the way that they are.

- Finished Barbara Defoe Whitehead's Why Are There No Good Men Left?, the title of which is an utter misnomer. It doesn't even begin to answer the question of why there are no good men left; it does, however, do an utterly brilliant job of answering the question: Why Are So Many Wonderful Women Still Single? I picked it up because I was in the kind of mood to appreciate a bit of male-bashing, but I was pleasantly surprised: the book is positive and hopeful and straightforward, not cynical or bitter, and it cured my mood rather than indulging it. The author says that she got the idea for the book from the Chick Lit phenomenon, this whole genre of books about precocious, urban career women who are successful at the office but unlucky in love, and she takes it as being a sort of - emblematic crisis for this generation of young women. Then she goes back and tries to figure out how and why it occured, using census data and tracing it through the history of women's lib. Very interesting.

- Last night I watched The Godfather for the first time. As expected, I thought it was brilliant - through much of the movie I was stunned senseless by the perfect combination of pastoral bliss and utter brutality. I could go on for a long time, as many people have, about the various merits of The Godfather - probably the two things that linger the most, at the moment, are the scene where one man is assassinated while another is standing in a wheat field in Jersey somewhere, with the Statue of Liberty a little speck in the distance - I could almost feel the wind on the wheat, and it gave me chills. The other is when Marlon Brando says "A man that doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man," - I couldn't help but compare it to other crime-culture movies, like the new Oceans franchise and Smoking Aces and reflect on the extent to which those other movies are really, truly about boys. By the same token, I realized for the first time the extent to which Spielberg was paying homage to Coppola in Munich.

1 comment:

e said...

when i worked at nordstom's, there was a huge poster in the basement detailing key selling strategies from underhill's book. they really took it to heart, i guess.