Roger Fry: A Biography

Very much enjoyed slowly working my way through Woolf’s biography of her friend Roger Fry. I think the second read much better than my first read 4 years ago. It helps to fit the book exactly in her chronology as I work my way through her diaries, letters, books and essays. This project was one that she had simmering on the back burner while she finished off The Years and Three Guineas, and my appreciation deepened as a result of knowing what a struggle it was for her to sift through masses of letters and walk the tightrope of what was socially acceptable to put into print. I somewhat agree with Leonard’s assessment that she relied perhaps too heavily on quoting Roger, especially when she re-iterated by reusing the same quote multiple times. But just a brief glimpse, a cursory search for “Roger” in the ebook I have of her diaries shows that she was “absorbed in Roger” as she worked those many years on the biography:  “brew more Roger”, “heap of Roger’s papers”, “I’m strung into a ball with Roger”, “rubbed against Roger”, “weight of Roger”, “distressed by Roger”, “been titivating Roger”, “hold the Roger fort”, “work on Roger”, “grind of Roger”, “Roger seems hopeless”, “Dreamt of Roger last night”.  He came to life again under her craftsmanship, paying back the debt she owed him to the encouragement he gave and conversations they had.

True Grit

Charles Portis’s 1968 novel was a treat to whip through on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Told through the perspective of a woman reflecting back on her early life when as a 14-year-old she sets out to avenge her father’s murder. She picks out a federal marshal to help her track down the killer and after haggling with an auctioneer to sell back a pack of ponies that her father had bought, pays the marshal a quarter of the agreed fee. A Texas Ranger is also on the lookout for this same killer and joins the group. Lots of shootouts and campfires and a pit with snakes, but all ends well.

Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused

Starting the year off with a bang! This was an extremely interesting deep dive into Linklater’s early film career, detailing how things went into the production of Slacker as well as Dazed and Confused. Maerz did a great job wrangling hundreds of interviews with cast, crew, and fans (like the brothers Duplass) about the making of these films. One of the best books I’ve encountered in the film genre and it sent me scurrying to the library to see if anything else came close (so far, no).  Everything about this film seemed blessed, the amazing cast of actors before they were known stars, the chemistry, the script, McConaughey’s performance, the music. And yet the studio tried everything in their power to sink it, to Linklater’s dismay. Don Phillips the extraordinary casting director (who w/r/t Jared Leto’s audition said “I love Jared, but Jared’s a real piece of work.”) allegedly threatened to expose himself if a certain movie weren’t submitted to the awards circuit. The final chapter points out how hard we fell for this supposedly anti-nostalgia film because of how much life/society has changed the past few decades. This was real livin’ and we love this movie because we miss it.