Thursday, August 14, 2014


"Detachment" is the new film starring Adrian Brody, who is becoming large in my eyes for his keen acting ability. His own eyes reflect the detachment of the title and the great sorrow detachment brings. He is not part of us; he belongs elsewhere, but while he's here, let's cling fiercely to him for all he's worth or let's ignore him totally.This is the view of his students, the substitute who has come to these modern existentialists, those who are also detached. Those not are ignored in this film.

Brody plays a permanent substitute teacher who moves from school to school, filling in for first one teacher then the next. His job mirrors his commitment-less life. One point he makes is that we all have secrets. His is seeing his pitiful mother naked and dead as a young boy. It's a story etched in his face and blast through his eyes. It helps him present depressing literature to a class full of pained and hurting teenagers. They sense his depths of pain and want to commit to him, drain his life, pulse it into their own veins of emptiness and loneliness and despair.

A female colleague tells Brody's character that she is afraid of going home. Her soul is also devoid of emotion--it's just hollowness. She's Eliot's hollow man. She is all right in the classroom where she is engaged and engaging, yet all those hours alone at home are just too frightening to consider.

Lucy Liu plays the counselor who abhors counseling because of the horror she encounters in these teens' abysmal lives. Finally, she tells one girl who has a dwarfish soul to get "the f.... out of her office." It's a powerful scene of one educator completely coming unglued and letting the knives out of the drawer.

One iota of joy concludes this celluloidic adventure: the prostitute teen whom Brody's character befriends, well, the film is worth this last scene, this little iota of joy or something like joy.

The film is presented much like a documentary on the  barren life of a teacher and the teens in his/her arena. There is much about the film that rings so true (spoken by a teacher of 40 years), and perhaps much that is exaggerated. The director pushes a heavy hand to draw attention to the utter despair that is our modern times in far too many lives.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Jack Reacher: A Tribute

Why is Stephen King so popular? Because he can put words on paper that mesmerize  readers into scooping up those words as fast as they can to follow the story. "It's the story," one might say, like "it's the economy."

Lee Child writes like that, although the style is totally different. Just how fast can I read a Reacher novel? First who's Reacher? Jack Reacher is Child's main character through his series of novels about the military police officer (even his mother calls him Reacher). Like King, Child writes mesmerizing stories. Once I start a Reacher novel, reading it is all I want to do and must be intentional in order to do other things. My mother is my reading partner and says she reads so fast just "to see what happens" and often returns to read the book a second time to pick up those details she missed during the first reading. Therefore that whole series of novels is good for two rounds.

King writes with flair, with talent and skill. He could have written one of the Great American Novels (and perhaps he did). However, Lee Child has no such skill--and that's not a bad thing. He writes short, choppy sentences (like Hemingway), but they match  his main character, Jack Reacher, a military cop, who retires at one point to become basically a drifter/hero on a quest, who rights wrongs. He doesn't need to tilt at windmills because he is too big and strong, but he certainly does not fear any opponent who comes up against him. At six feet five inches and 240 pounds, he is a brute that others (with any sense) come to fear.

I'm nearing the end of my journey with the Reacher novel I found in a republished format. It's "The Enemy" (a multi-purpose title that encompasses so many different enemies, both physical and psychological.) There's not much I can say in reviewing the novel without giving away really important pieces of plot, so I'll just focus on the female character. Nearly always, Reacher has a companion in the novel who works with him in solving the crime. This time it is another military police officer who wants to work in the division Reacher is in. They are opposites except in brain power and the ability to think globally. He is white and big; she is black and petite. (She is my favorite female character in the Reacher series.) They make a formidable partnership.

This Reacher novel made me shed tears at the end. I'll leave it at that. An excellent entry in the series.

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.