Welcome to the weekly roundup on Ink in the Archives! Every week I will share what I’ve been up to and interested in and ask you to fill me in on your week too.
Eventful Events and Happening Happenings
Last weekend my partner and I headed up to my family’s property near Yosemite. It had been quite some time since we’d been up there, but I’m really glad that we were able to rearrange things when my aunt called and asked if we could join her up there. The property is beautiful, but like any heavily forested land, it requires constant vigilance, which we have not been giving it. So now we have a new project as well as a new getaway out of our studio apartment. We go back in a few weeks to chop down tiny (and not so tiny) trees, reorganize the cabins, and generally make ourselves useful.
My friend mentioned to me a few days ago that she was planning on taking the rest of the week off and just planned on sitting down and reading 10 books. I decided that was a challenge that I could get behind and am joining her with the goal of reading 10 books before my classes start next week. I’ve finished 5 so far with a few more days to go, so I think I’ll make it. I’ll share a post on the books I read in the next couple of weeks, so I won’t be sharing those here.
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke Sometimes a book can be exactly what you need to read and you aren’t really sure why, and that’s how I felt about this memoir. Tembi Locke describes the loss of her husband after his battle with cancer, their story of adoption, and bridging family distances with her husband’s Sicilian family. Not only did this book make me laugh and cry, it led me to Cinema Paradiso, for which I will be eternally grateful.
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood I’m a huge Margaret Atwood fan because I think that she can make the very strange feel strangely mundane and make the everyday feel fantastic. She makes the most of coincidences, she’s insightful, and she writes really interesting, human characters. This collection of short stories is no different. I don’t usually consider short story collections to be page turners, but this one is.
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele I think that stories are our ultimate tool for empathy and listening to Patrisse’s story made me grapple with the very privileged view I’ve always had of Los Angeles, the criminal justice system, and mental health. My grandmother had severe mental health problems, and contrasting the way she was treated with the way that the author’s brother was treated because of race and class made me cry and made me angry.
Since we went up to the mountains this weekend and I embarked on my reading project, I’ve watched way fewer movies in the past couple of weeks…
All That Heaven Allows (1955) I have had this film on my list since we talked about it in my film class. This movie has been remade twice, once by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) and more recently by Todd Haynes as Far From Heaven. On the surface, it seems like a pretty typical melodrama about class and love and how our families can make our lives pretty miserable when they’re being selfish. And yet, it’s worth watching this film for the absolutely gorgeous lighting and for Rock Hudson’s performance, which seems to be so revealing about his sexual identity despite being awash in the blissfully look-the-other-way golden light of the 1950s.
My Blue Heaven (1950) Betty Grable (sporting my least favorite of her myriad hairstyles) stars in this film about adoption and parenting. I don’t know what it is I didn’t really like about the movie, the embarrassing and baffling appropriation of Pacific Islander culture, the trite dance numbers, the casual sexism, the idiot friends of the couple, the offhand comments equating American Indians to savages, the racist depiction of the couple’s maid and the really shitty way they treat her, the strange (forced?) adoption and the way they treat the unwed mother…. it’s harder to know where this movie goes right. There is literally a number in this movie about income taxes. Who does that? The only redeeming feature of this film is Grable’s put down of the woman her husband is cheating on her with (!). The drama is entertaining, but All That Heaven Allows and Peyton Place are much better movies if you think your life needs more melodrama in it.
Peyton Place (1957) I think this movie might deal with every possible taboo topic from the 1950s: teen sex, poverty, alcoholism, blackmail, murder, rape, abortion, illegitimate children, suicide…. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more melodrama play out over the course of two hours. The only topic it doesn’t deal with directly is race, because there are only white people in this town apparently This film was nominated for a couple academy awards including best picture and best actress, and the New England setting actually reminds me a lot of one of my favorite Hitchcock films, The Trouble with Harry (1955). I was really pleasantly surprised by this one. It was really interesting to watch, and I thought the end message of the film was a good one.
The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) Starring Jayne Mansfield as the sexiest woman alive who would rather be a homemaker. Totally believable. I’ve never believed anything more…. Also some really fun old rock and roll performances from Little Richard and others. Remember when rock stars wore suits and played at night clubs to well dressed clientele? I certainly do not but apparently that was a thing.
Late Night (2019) Mindy Kaling writes and stars in this sweet comedy about an aging Late Night show host (Emma Thompson) who needs to be less complacent about her content and the writing on her show and hires Molly as a diversity hire. I really liked this movie, it was exactly what I needed to watch and it felt smart. If you like Mindy Kaling’s comedy, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy this film.
Please know that I’m not paid for my opinions about anything. I just like to share things that strike me as interesting, useful, or engaging.
A sweet interview of two friends that own and run a bookstore together from the Atlantic.
Bailey’s is publishing a bunch of books by women writers who, for one reason or another, were not able to publish under their real names and took men’s names instead, including George Eliot’s Middlemarch. If you’re looking for something to read, consider one of these free ebooks.
How was your week? Let me know in the comments!