Saturday, March 13

Tell me about it

Lucy bait, that's what my buddy Shandon calls books, tv and movies she is certain I will love. She knows me well. We have some fine Lucy bait in progress, coming up and remembered. Here is a sampling:

Number one on the list has got to be the upcoming HBO miniseries The Pacific. The other day Shandon handed me an advance copy of the book the show is based on thinking it was Lucy bait. She was right.

I didn't see Band of Brothers when it originally aired. I haven't the foggiest idea how that happened since I'm pretty much obsessed with WWII, especially the American and British experiences of the war. Anyway, I eventually saw Band of Brothers in a one day sitting. (Don't judge me. You know you've done that sort of thing.) It was probably a Veteran's Day marathon, all I know is that it hooked me. All plans were canceled because I had to find out how it all worked out for Easy Company. I also have been pretty much crushing on Dick Winters ever since. Is that weird? Well I can't help it, he's dreamy. That's Dick at the top of the page. See what I mean? I expect I'll be just as enamored with the Marines in The Pacific. We'll see if the series stands up to the inevitable comparisons to BoB. I hope it does.

In the same vein I'm currently reading a wonderful book called Few Eggs, No Oranges. It's the Persephone publishing of Vere Hodgson's diary during the war years in England. Vere was an ordinary woman working at a local charity in Notting Hill and living in her mother's boarding house during the war. Vere kept a diary for most of her life. After the war she edited her 1940-1945 diaries and they became the account I'm now savoring. It's a big fat book that I've been reading for months. I keep it on my nightstand and have been slowly reading a small bits at a time. I like to check in with Vere and see how she's holding up. It will probably take me as long to read the book as it took the war to begin and end. I could easily burn through the pages in a weekend or two but I find myself trying to slow down and let it last.

I should take a moment here to clarify something. I do not like the war, I'm merely fascinated by the many perspectives on it. I find tales of ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances to be irresistible. WWII is therefore of interest to me. However, I have no fantasies of going back in time and living there either. The hair products just weren't up to snuff yet (I kid!). I don't like true crime accounts but true stories of war, survival (recall this post) and some politics (All The President's Men) suck me right in. I want to hear all about those stories.

Have you ever read David Brinkley's book Washington Goes to War? It's a great little book of stories collected by David Brinkley (yes, the late great David Brinkley) on what the war was like in the then sleepy little town of Washington DC. I believe it's currently out of print so, if you ever see it, pick it up. You'll love it.

How about the better known The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? No? What are you waiting for? I adored this book. What's it about you say? Here's a teaser from the site "January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name." Um, yeah. Check it out.

My favorite museum trip was my visit to The Cabinet War Rooms soon after it opened. It's a Winston Churchill museum located in the basement of Parliament. Apparently after the war was won the Brits just locked the doors to the war rooms and went on with life. About a decade ago some folks finally went down there to see what they could find and discovered war offices that were literally frozen in time. They even found packets of sugar rations in the back of a desk drawer. These rooms were the bunkers where Winston Churchill and the BBC used to broadcast speeches and "ran the show". It's where Churchill lived during the blitz and much of the war. It's an amazing place. It alone is worth a trip to England. I'm not kidding.

My favorite movie that isn't about the war but takes place during those years is Radio Days. Anyone who claims to not like Woody Allen needs to see this film. I like to think of it as how my parents lived when they were very young. They knew about the war but they were too young to really comprehend what it was. When I'm reading or watching things about that terrible war it can help to watch a film like Radio Days for a more naive point of view of the war. This is another one that I highly recommend.

No comments: