I find it profoundly upsetting how someone we love can disappoint us time and again, deeply and in many different ways. And yet, we find ourselves taken by surprise each time it happens when, really, we should’ve known better.
We’ve heaped all these expectations on the people we love, which, granted, isn’t fair to them. But ceasing to expect to get EVERYTHING that we feel our love has entitled us to would mean we’ve given up. So expectations lead to disappointments, but having none means we’re just wasting our time.
In rare moments of cynicism, like now, I start questioning the point of it all. But then I remember, for all those times you’ve disappointed me, betrayed me with a flaw, dared to be less than perfect, I remember that I’ve been guilty of all those things too, ten times over. So I’ve probably incurred all this and life has just come to collect.
I always try to read or reread a book right before watching its film adaptation, but I did my Gatsby reread last December when it was originally scheduled for release. I have a soft spot for both the book and the 1974 film version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Needless to say, the wait to see this film has been excruciating.
About Baz Luhrmann himself, I can’t ostensibly claim to be a fan. I’ve seen all his Hollywood films and I don’t know if they stand the test of repeat viewing as I’ve never had a desire to watch any of them in full again. His films tend to leave me overstimulated and his overall style is too cloying for my taste. That being said, and if it makes an sense, I’ve never seen a Baz Luhrmann film that I didn’t absolutely love, or at least enjoy.
I loved The Great Gatsby, and I’d definitely watch it to again. (And the next time I do watch it, I’m going to take a shot of tequila every time someone says “old sport”) I’m not sure if that’s more to do with the source material or the director, because the film’s strongest point is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beautiful prose. In fact, I am such a fan of it that I forgive the liberties they took with the original story, i.e., using the framing device of Nick Carraway in the sanatorium and having him ultimately write the novel The Great Gatsby. If it allows for chunks of Fitzgerald’s original paragraphs and sentences that I love so much to appear as texts on screen then how could I possibly disapprove?
However, I thought that scene with the shooting star was much too much. Such beautiful language has no need of accouterments or gimmicks.
For your reading pleasure, something gratuitous, here it is:
He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.
Gatsby is a great book, and like all great books, I’m not sure anyone can adequately adapt in into a film. But on it’s own, I really enjoyed this movie.
About the cast, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve waited for this movie a long time and kept tabs on all the casting news as they rolled out. I was very happy with the choice of Leonardo Dicaprio. His Gatsby was equal parts earnest, vulgar, sympathetic, artificial, vulnerable and eager to impress.
Robert Redford’s portrayal of Gatsby was slightly more subdued and Redford’s own innate and effortless brand of cool made it seem unbelievable that his Gatsby would at all need to try to impress anyone, let alone try hard! Leo did a better job, I would say. The only reason I prefer Robert Redford is that I enjoy looking at him more. C’mon, will you just LOOK at that? He rocked that pink suit better than anyone ever has or ever will!
Now Daisy, one of literature’s most famous unattainable woman,
Please bear with me while I tinker with my layout
PS. I don’t know what I’m doing
I’ve buried many pets in my lifetime. Now, don’t misunderstand, I don’t have sociopathic tendencies. At least nothing that pronounced. What I mean is, my family has had all manner of pets—dogs, rabbits, cats, monkeys, fish, lobsters, birds etc. and many of them have passed away. Some are buried in my yard. They died of natural causes, diseases, unknown means and, for some, manhandling—like that fish I repeatedly tried to pet. Except for the poor fish, none of the deaths have been because of something I directly did.
I loved them all very much. But I admit, in some cases, I could’ve been more attentive and attuned to their needs.
That is partly why I’ve always been afraid of how I’d fare as a mother. What if my kid ends up spoiled or ill-groomed? I don’t have the steadfastness to train, discipline or give regular baths to pets, much less children. I imagine I’d be really indulgent yet neglectful, leaving all the serious rearing to someone else.
Pets are like children in more ways than a non-animal loving mother would care to admit. But they really are! Children, like pets, can be extremely annoying. Especially if they are not yours but someone else’s therefore u don’t love/ have to love them. Like pets, a child is probably not as cute to other people as they are to their own mothers. And again, as with pets, when a child (a child, not an adult) is horrid enough to deserve a hard smack in the head, the parents are clearly f*ckin’ up. Children are never held accountable, and rightly so. They know no better.
A case in point: while on a boat going to an island, a toddler vomited and got a huge chunk of it on my friend, who was non-too-fond of babies as it were. The mother apologized. My friend could only give mom and baby a frosty glare. Anything more and she would be a baby-hating bitch.
We’re all expected to be tolerant of children and their inherent grossness and obnoxiousness. I agree, to some extent, but why shouldn’t it extend to animals, especially considering that to some people, their pets are their children? Some people will reject this analogy, thinking it devalues human love. I’m not buying that.
True, animals will never be capable of reason to a degree that a baby, once fully-formed, will. But won’t that logic put people with extreme mental disabilities and autistics with no cognitive empathy in the same league, if not below, say, a highly-trained dog? Again, I’m not buying that.
One of the most underrated philosophers in my college syllabi (and my favorite!), Jeremy Bentham, argues it best:…the question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?
When I was six I wrote my first essay. I say six but that’s just a guess. I don’t actually remember my age when this story I’m about to tell you took place, but I remember everything else about that day very vividly, as we’re wont to do with life’s most harrowing and subsequently life-defining episodes.
I remember feeling very frustrated—although I’m sure “frustrated” wasn’t yet a part of my vocabulary then—as I wrote because I was sure I was spelling many of the words wrong. Even to my just-barely-literate eyes, I knew that words are not necessarily spelled the way they sound. Life is complicated like that. Note that this was all before I learned about silent letters, long vowel sounds, and the unique and utterly baffling phonetic formed by the combined letters of “N” and “G”.
Naturally, my first foray into essays, written on two pages of bond paper (no lines!), had questionable grammar, many misspellings, and possibly even made up words—it was a miracle my mom was able to decipher it! Not that I had intended to show it to her; I hid it under my pillow. But mothers have their secret ways….
There’s nothing like cruelty and injustice to inspire people to take to the pen or, in my case, the no.2 pencil. Although, at that age my concept of cruelty and injustice was limited to things like not being allowed to go swimming every day and stay in the water till I prune. Stuff like that.
My essay was a mournful lament on my lot in life and a couched condemnation of my oppressor, i.e. my mom. . I didn’t write things like “I heyt my layf” or anything of that sort. Teenagers do that! No, my sixish-year-old self was far more sophisticated. My title was, “If I Cod Only Brim Back the Pas” (If I Could Only Bring Back the Past). That was a very poor choice for a title. I didn’t actually want to go back in time and change or relive anything, which is what a title like that implies. What I wanted instead, as I explained in my essay, was to be omnipowerful so I can chose to be born as a beloved and adored only child of doting parents who will let me do anything I want and give me everything I ask for—a concept far too complicated for my underdeveloped intellect to articulate and capture succinctly in a title.
When I saw mom reading it mere minutes after I “hiding” it so carefully, I was sure I would be in big trouble. I steeled myself for her impending anger as she called me to her. But to my utter shock, she seemed…pleased. I was immediately suspicious.
In what I thought was a very spiteful move, she made me stand still in front of her as she read a few lines back to me. It made me cringe/want to die/ want to be to be swallowed up by a sinkhole.
My mother wasn’t done yet. She showed it to the maids. Then off she went to my lolo’s house with me in tow. There, she read it to my aunt and anyone who would listen. I still couldn’t understand why no one was getting mad at me yet. Was this my punishment for writing that hateful piece, public humiliation?
Finally, it sunk in. My mom was sincerely happy and very proud of what I wrote. Woah! It made me so very sorry I even wrote it in the first place. I’m a spoiled, ungrateful brat. I don’t really want to “brim back the pas.”
I learned three things that day: our mother really is our number one fan; at least one person in this whole world will always think my writing is good enough to read; and the feeling of happiness and satisfaction you get for writing something will be snuffed out and replaced by anxiety and crippling self-doubt once someone starts reading it.
To this day, when my words are read back to me or when I know someone is at that moment reading something I wrote, I’m overcome with the same feelings I had as a sixish-year-old: I cringe / want to die / want to be swallowed up by a sinkhole. The intensity of those feelings is directly proportional to the effort that went into the writing. Ironically, writing is my day job. I must be a masochist. It’s the only explanation that makes sense on why, despite my early taste of just how excruciating it is to open yourself up for judgment like that, I keep on doing it.
Blogging is only slightly less horrible than writing for a publication or for a client. Slightly. Because in Tumblr, I don’t know if anyone even sees my posts. As so, I’m not pressured to do multiple drafts or to proofread. The downside is, I also don’t have the benefit of gifted editors and copyeditors to look over my work and make sure I don’t humiliate myself.
Sometimes I envy people who write without regard to proper grammar, syntax and content, and with even less regard to other people’s opinion. What a wonderful and totally liberating mindset, and it’s certainly healthier for the self-esteem!
But you know who I envy more? The really good writers. I weep at the sight of a beautifully constructed sentence that parses perfectly instead of rambles, that’s full of wit instead of forced word play, that’s without a grammatical flaw, and that can express ideas, emotions or imagery with a skill that I can never hope to match.
But even so, I beat on, a boat against the current, borne ceaselessly back—aaand I just stole a line from The Great Gatsby. You see what I mean? So I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t really know why I write. I just do.
But here’s why George Orwells writes (err, wrote??). Give it a read.
A confession: I actually read a couple of other books that I’m not including here…because, well, because I’m ashamed. There’s a nice quote from Cloud Atlas that goes something along the lines of, “a half-finished book is like a half finished love affair.” Perhaps. But like most love affairs, some books are ill-advised to begin with. *shrug* I was bored and it was free, but never again. Life is too short for bad wine, bad relationships, and especially bad books.
1. Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
Oh goodness, what a letdown this book was. But I guess if you’re a Pride and Prejudice fan it’s just something you gotta read. If you choose not to, that’s fine too. You’re not really missing anything. Full review here.
2. Other People’s Love Letters, Bill Shapiro (Editor)
I love (or at least love the idea of) going through other people’s most intimate correspondences. There have been several books dedicated to love letters of important/controversial historical figures. This one though is more in the same vein of PostSecret and the senders/recipients remain anonymous. Just as well. Some letters were cute, others painful, but most were pretty boring. I was a bit disappointed, TBH. Not one of the letters featured here was even good enough to plagiarize (more about stolen lines about love in another post) I’m sorry for being a jerk but I’ve written/received way better letter than those featured here.
3. How the French Invented Love: Nine Hundred Years of Passion and Romance, Marilyn Yalom
If you aren’t yet a Francophile you might just turn into one after reading this book. It’s an interesting, informative and wonderfully written treatise on why when, it comes to love and passion, the French influence reigns supreme and unchallenged. Each chapter is dedicated to specific time periods, people, and works of literature and how it has shaped the French’s enduring and evolving culture of romantic love. This book is an elegant proof of why love and falling in love is never and can never be overrated. It has chapters dedicated to The Art of Courtly Love, Proust’s neurotic lovers, Margeruite Duras, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre. Seriously, I couldn’t put this one down!
4. Why Men Love Bitches: From Doormat to Dreamgirl—A Woman’s Guide to Holding Her Own in a Relationship , Sherry Argov
I could never really get behind this book’s premise, which basically says that if you’re not getting what you deserve from your man, you’re doing something wrong, that perhaps you are being too available or going “all out” when you should be holding back. What?!? Who wants to be holding back when they’re in love? I love spoiling my boyfriend. I wish I could spoil him more. I love it even more when he spoils me. I don’t want a book telling him he shouldn’t be pulling all the stops to make me happy.
The book has sections like How to renew the mental challenge, How to convince him he’s in control while you run the show or Regain your sense of humor, which I found incredibly asinine. I’m not making it up! Gosh, I never want to be the kind of woman who turns to a self-help book to learn how to be a mental challenge or to develop a sense of humor. I never want to be the kind of woman who buys a book on how to be a generic dream girl. And I certainly don’t want a man who is susceptible to manipulation. How un-sexy is that? *shudder*
I’m not saying we mustn’t submit and subscribe to Sherry Argov’s definition of a bitch, which is, in essence, a woman who knows her own worth and has self-respect. That’s nothing new. That’s what our mothers and The Spice Girls have been telling us all along. GIRL POWER! My problem really begins when the book gets prescriptive. If you have to resort to calculated maneuvers to teach your guy and to NOT treat you like a doormat, dump him. I don’t know about the other girls out there, but I want a man, not a dog that needs training. Who the heck has time for that?!
There are all sorts of douchbags, jerks, losers, and misers out there. If you end up dating one, acting like a prize, giving him the thrill of a chase, acting indifferent in the hopes of keeping him interested, and all the other inane pieces of advice from this book won’t cure him of any of his character defects. You don’t need to learn to act like a bitch. Just don’t stay in relationships with men whose psychoses don’t mesh well with yours. Easier said than done, I know but that’s no excuse to read this utterly absurd book.
5. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
I love this so much. I love Edith Wharton. This deserves its own review.
Happy end of February, everyone! Despite my unabashed love for it, I’m relieved it’s over. I think I’ve made myself sick from overindulging on all things mushy. It doesn’t help that on top of Valentine’s, Toni and I also celebrated our 5th anniversary this month. It probably explains why I find myself oddly drawn to apocalyptic movies as of late. E.L.E’s seem like obvious antidote for cloying over-sentimentality. Nothing like the Armageddon to remind us of the triviality of a lot of our cultural obsessions.
I ended up seriously loving Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia and firs-time director Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. A shared impending-end-of-the-world premise ties these two otherwise very different movies.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is essentially a rom-com
… while Melancholia is… I don’t know what it is exactly, but it sure was depressing.
They say that your choices reveal a lot about who you are. I say that in some cases it’s actually the other way around; that it’s the choices you make that sets you on your path to personhood and will one way or another inform every decision you’ll ever make thereupon.
Young as I am (lol!), there have been many moments when I’ve had to make these life-defining choices, to pick a side, so to speak and to defend it with every ounce of my conviction. Sometimes these choices are difficult and would require long moments of introspection. More often than not in my case, the choice has been easy, obvious, and even instinctive.
Like, seriously, no competition!
Backstreet Boys or N’Sync?
Jessica or Elizabeth?
Betty or Veronica?
Edward or Jacob?
Austen or Brontë?
I’m a total Austenite although I do confess to loving Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Wild, doomed love affairs set in the desolate windswept moors of the Brontë-verse do hold its own against some of Austen’s milder (albeit clever) comedy of manners. Is that cheating? I also find Jane (Eyre) and Cathy more compelling than some Austen heroines. May the shade of Jane Austen NOT strike me dead for admitting that.
The Austen and Brontë divide has kept generations of girls drastically polarized. I’m taking Emily, Anne and Charlotte as one unit, by the way, since they were not as prolific as Austen. Charlotte Brontë herself might have inadvertently started this rivalry as she is famously known to have hated Austen’s work, calling them tame and boring… Gasp!
Oh gosh! I’m so sorry I got sidetracked. I’m supposed to be reviewing this book Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, right?
It sucked. It seriously did. I had half a mind not to finish this book but I wouldn’t feel sufficiently justified in slamming it if I hadn’t.
I once went on a Pride & Prejudice sequel / spin-off reading spree and I was utterly disappointed by what’s out there. I feel a bit guilty for it too because I know that these were written by huge Austen fans just like me. And I get it, I get the appeal of writing /reading fan fictions and of revisiting the characters and the world you’ve come to love. But some of these books, I feel, do nothing to honor P&P and some go as far as to defame it, like this one book begins in the morning of the Bennett sisters’ double wedding and had Darcy giving Bingley a copy of the Kama Sutra. WTH??!?!
“Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”
This book doesn’t “pollute” Pemberely the same way but it’s not without its mortal sins. It’s a crappy book, to put it bluntly. It opens six years after where P&P left off . Captain Denny dies in the forest of Pemberley and Wickham is the prime suspect. The book is supposed to be a suspense but it didn’t quite manage that.It’s utterly boooooring, plodding, trite, and far too circumlocutory. There was an Emma and Persuasion crossover that was mildly exciting.
I knew it wouldn’t be as good as the original but I thought it would be fun to revisit the characters but P.D. James ruined that for me too. The characters were nothing like the originals. Lizzie and Darcy are so dull. Colonel Fitzwilliam lost his charm and good humor. Lydia, whom I always had a soft spot for, was completely villainized! There’s also a host of original characters who I never learned to care for.
The biggest crime in this book was not the bashing of Denny’s skull, IMHO, but the tedium it subjected its readers to.
Apparently, PD James has written 1 milion-billion mystery books. I think it’s safe to say that reading Death Comes to Pemberley has not whetted my appetite for any more of her works.
Seriously. This book. Don’t. Just don’t.