Back from New York, where I spent Saturday morning at Bank Street College talking about book reviewing with my sisters at SLJ (Luann Toth), Kirkus (Vicky Smith), and the New York Times (Sarah Harrison Smith). We talked about numbers of books (too many), lengths of books (too long) and the thinking involved in matching the right reviewer to the right book. With Jenny Brown serving as our agreeable moderator, it was fun. (And, as a bonus, Victoria Stapleton was there and cleared up some–SOME–of my confusion about Netgalley).
The night before we went to see the new production of The Glass Menagerie with Cherry Jones and Zach Quinto. While I remember watching the 1973 TV adaptation with Katharine Hepburn, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on stage before. Oh, this feels like heresy, but I was underwhelmed. Cherry and Zach as Wingfield mere et fils were vigorous and while the director seemed intent on mining the humor of the play, rather than going all wispy, it seemed to me like the play itself is better as wisp than as comedy. And the Laura, Celia Keenan Bolger, was too quiet. Perhaps that is the point, but, like, I couldn’t hear her. Much better the next night was Fun Home, a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir. Funny and sad and horrifying at once.
In between we saw the new Art Spiegelman exhbit at the Jewish Museum, and the Mauritshuis show at the Frick. They could not have been more different–the Spiegelman seemed to have everything but his Horn Book cover (throw us a bone, Art!) while the Frick show contained just fifteen paintings, fourteen in one room and Girl With a Pearl Earring on its own (which it needed, given that the crowd around it was five deep when we were there). The show also includes Fabritius’s The Goldfinch (pictured), central image in Donna Tartt’s new novel of the same name. MY Dutch Golden Age bestseller is going to be Still, Life With Five Apricots (Ain’t So Bad).
I’m reading the Tartt now, on Elizabeth’s recommendation; she says it’s the best book she’s read this year. I’m only about a quarter of the way in (and really enjoying myself), but what is striking me right now is how much it, in outline, seems like any number of juvenile evergreens (and bestsellers): odd boy orphaned finds a talisman that leads him to a magic shop. Will the resemblances continue?