Saturday, August 27, 2016

Becoming Jeanette Winterson

Today my favorite writer turns 57. Happy Birthday to you, Jeanette Winterson! May you remain the same incredibly inspiring writer who is not afraid to speak her mind! 

You all know that Brexit happened but you may not be aware how vocal she has been about it and how she no longer thinks that Britain, with all the ugly changes, is her country. I love the fact that, while revisiting classic stories such as Shakespeare's "Winter's Tale" in her latest novel "The Gap of Time" (2015) she can still remain grounded in the present and not shy away from having a pertinent opinion about what happens in Britain and around the world. 

In an article she wrote this June, she states something that now seems clear for most of us:

"I am an optimist by nature. I believe in solutions. We need solutions to the absolute failure of the neoliberal Project Few, whereby capitalism has been hijacked to serve the rich, where investing for the long term has been replaced by short-term profiteering, and where globalisation has been allowed to wreck local economies in the name of free trade."

She has a willingness to take risks and challenge herself and her readers that has remained constant throughout her career of more than 30 years. She is one of the most ambitious and inventive writers I have come across and I can't wait to (re)read her creative writing! 

"My two pillars are art and love and I had to learn both." 

Here is a short interview with her in Australia this May, at the Sydney Writers' Festival:

p.s. The black 'creature' in the picture is her cat, Nero. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Born to Be Blue

"I want to play. All I want is to play." 

There is no such thing as too much Ethan Hawke on this blog :) 
I am still incredibly grateful that he can be so prolific and release movie after movie, after book :) 
"Born to Be Blue" (2015) is a fantastic one, a mixture of beautiful  jazz music, a story of never giving up on your dreams and Ethan Hawke getting more and more talented (who would have thought this was possible? :)) 

"You should find one thing and be better at it than anybody else in the world." 

The drama film tells the story of Chet Baker, the American jazz trumpeter with a divine voice who falls in love in his adulthood and after getting his teeth knocked out in a fight, tries to musically come back and impress his audience with his original style and music. All this happens in the late 1960s and this is one more reason why you will most definitely enjoy the movie: the music is perfect, the atmosphere of those times is rendered vividly and 'the movie within a movie' idea (Chet was in fact asked to star in a movie about his life) mingles just fine. 

What else to add? Ethan wanted to play this part for more than 15 years but at that time, his age did not match.  After years of effort, he successfully managed to do that with his charisma, energy and fearlessness. Am I just praising him because I am a huge fan? Not really. The Guardian and Rolling Stone have written wonderful reviews. 
Last but not least, Ethan performs two of the 14 songs from the soundtrack, "My Funny Valentine" and "I've Never been in Love Before". Enjoy it! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Romeo and Juliet

"Don't waste your love on somebody who doesn't value it."

How I love a good live performance, especially if I get the chance to see it among the first! Almost two months ago I saw the premiere of the play "Romeo and Juliet" at the National Theatre in Cluj - Napoca. I did not know what to expect, the show did not even have a proper poster advertising it, but I am glad I went to see it with an open heart, because it proved to be unexpectedly wonderful. 

"Romeo and Juliet" (1597) is probably Shakespeare's most famous play and it has been quite popular with directors along the centuries so it was no wonder I did ask myself whether I would be surprised or not by how the director would see the play and how the actors would act everything out on stage. 

"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs."

Tudor Lucanu, the young director, set the story between the two rival families in two tailoring  workshops. The space looked simple, filled with huge moving mirrors and body-like lamps. Long pieces of colorful cloth separated the two workshops and the costumes were cleverly created so that they represented a mixture between the classic and the nonconformity.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

The performance was filled with funny moments and even though I knew what was coming next and that the play is, in fact, a tragedy, I could still enjoy the lighthearted moments which made even the actors on stage smile. I loved the way the well-known story ended, the director did not change its ending but he masterfully added a new meaning. What a great idea! Well done to the young actors who offered two hours of exquisite performance! If you have the chance to see it, you should definitely take it! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Miniaturist

"Every woman is the architect of her own fortune." 

Celebrating August as the month dedicated to Women in Translation, I had to write a few lines on this absolutely fabulous book I read last month, even if it was in English, not in translation. 
"The Miniaturist" is Jessie Burton's first book and I am definitely going to read her latest "The Muse" which appeared this June. 
Back to "The Miniaturist" (2014), the book is set in 17th century Amsterdam and it was inspired by a dolls' house which can be found in the King's Museum in Amsterdam. Actually, last year I saw this dolls' house and I still remember the effect it had on me: so small and yet so perfectly made. It has a special place in the vast museum and this is mainly because there are not as many dolls' houses in that pristine condition in the world. At that time I was not aware of the book, but then this year I read a few lines about it on a blog and the whole story intrigued me so I decided to delve in it. 

"Growing older does not seem to make you more certain. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt." 

"The Miniaturist" is a mysterious character in the novel who helps the young and newly-wed Nella Oortman to discover the truth about her husband and his relatives and see life in a different (better?) perspective. To pass the time, Nella receives a present from her husband: a dolls' house, which is, in fact, a perfect replica of her own house. Then, the eerie miniaturist sends more figurines than she is required and the secrets start to unfold. Will she be able to cope with all of them? That is for you to find out...

"A lifetime isn't enough to know how a person will behave." 

What I really loved, besides the thrilling story and the unexpected events was the witty voice in which the whole story was narrated. The words seemed to be perfectly chosen and everything came together in such a way as to create a perfect novel. Sold in more than 1 million copies, this is a wonderful must-read. 

Here is Jessie Burton talking about her book in a BBC interview. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Women in Translation Month

Tony, from Tony's Reading List reminded me that August is the month for Women in Translation and since I am quite eager to read two or three women  writers translated into Romanian, I am definitely in for the challenge. It is the third year in which Meytal hosts the challenge and this is very simple: you have to read women writers, no matter their country or year of publishing and I am sure that, for most of you, this challenge can easily go hand in hand with others. In my case, I will read a Japanese writer (also for Bellezza's Reading Challenge), a Romanian one for the challenge I host and another one for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. 

"Sticletele" (The Goldfinch) will be my first Donna Tartt and I can't wait to see the reasons why this book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. 

I really liked Ana Manescu's "alter.ego" and I am looking forward to reading this one, "Quasar".  She seems such a promising young voice in the Romanian literature. 

 "Pravalia de maruntisuri a domnului Nakano" (The Nakano Thrift Shop) is going to be my third Kawakami and I hope I will enjoy it as much as the other two. 

What are you reading this August? :)