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Saturday, October 08, 2011

Department of Book Reports: Autobiographies

We've had a busy week here in our little town. Garth Stein's visit & reading was a lovely evening, enjoyed by all attendees. Many thanks to our wonderful Timberland Regional Library for sponsoring this event.
I finally got the big old Neon sign going Thursday afternoon. I had 2 people in who said I saw the sign! I didn't know there was a bookstore here! On Friday, 4 people came in because they saw those shiny red letters. I want to get some shelving set up so that it is at the top of the window, but it's kinda tricky in such an old building.

Lately, I've been reading memoirs. What I had thought would be a bit of popcorn reading has turned out to actually have timely lessons.
Cecil Beaton was given his first camera at age 11, and preferred to use it the rest of his life. Son of a lumber and coal family fortune, this book could have been way too twee in anyone else's hands. Lavishly illustrated with his iconic photographs, this volume centers on his longtime love of Greta Garbo. His devotion is evident in every sentence.
Charlie Chaplin provides quite a contrast, being born into abject poverty and spent much of his childhood in and out of London's Workhouses before his stage work became popular. He remains acutely aware of class struggles and bristles when introduced to someone with the assurance "he comes from a very good family." Chaplin had no patience for the romanticizing of poverty and resented what he called Somerset Maugham's annoying nonsense. This is a great read, which much insight into old Hollywood. I'm going to track down more of his writings, especially the unexpurgated volumes that were published posthumously. It was his great desire that Hitler be laughed at which gives us this most timeless speech:

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.