Sunday, March 31, 2013

A clever "similist" with good page-to-stage potential

I'd  love to see Jami Attenberg  write a  play.  Having just read  her hilarious  yet sad  and  touching  novel  The Middlesteins,  I can  just picture  her do a  contemporary  tragi-comedy.  I  bought  the  book   as  a Kindle Daily Deal and even  though  that super bargain is no longer available,  this  saga  about  a  Chicago  Jewish family  whose  matriarch  is  gradually  killing herself with  compulsive  eating  definitely falls  into the  "good read" category,  and   you don't  have  to  be  Jewish to  appreciate   Attenberg's  vivid  multi-character  story. 

The Middlesteins     also fed  my  never-ending appetite  for colorful  tropes with  some tasty  tidbits,  a few of  which  follow.   

About  guilt feelings:   (and what's a  novel about Jews without a reference to guilt:  "guilt boiling in her stomach like an egg in hot water.

About  a  wife  criticizing  an  ever  less  nurturing spouse:
"She pecked at Richard constantly, as if she were a sparrow and he was some crumb just out of reach."

Attenberg    pictures the above couple's  increasingly  distant  bed habits as  "sleeping on opposite sides of the bed, clinging to their respective corners as if they were holding on to the edge of a cliff.

A failing   family business begins   "to  slowly crumble, like a sick tree limb infested with a mysterious fungus.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A theater critic goes netflixing

I picked up that new verb netflixing  from Annie Baker's  overlong but  absorbing new play  The Flick  which is  set in  an old  movie theater  built long  before Netflix  became common enough to become a  new verb.  (

I had time to go netflixing as a result of  a fractured ankle which kept me  out of the theater most of this month.  The highlight  of  that experience was watching  this enteprises first  venture into original  content--  a 13  part  Americanized version of  the BBC series House of Cards.  It   proved  to  be  a  great  way  to see  the excellence of work being done  by  people  in the theater  for   the screen.  

The main character   theater in the heavy cast of  characters  was Congressman Francis Underwood, a superb performance by Kevin Spacey.  Here's   a metaphoric   gem  by the  scheming Underwood's  dialogue:

On money:    Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the Mc-mansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn't see the difference.