Friday, April 15, 2005

“Get used to disappointment.”

The Movie: The Princess Bride, 1987 (William Goldman, screenwriter, from his novel; Rob Reiner, dir.)
Who says it: Cary Elwes as The Man in Black
The context: Inigo (Mandy Patinkin) begs The Man in Black to show his face, saying he must know who his opponent is.
How to use it: To deny a request.

Disappointment is an inadequate word, but there's no help for it: I can't go to Los Angeles next week. Even if I'm better by then, I can't face the cross-country plane trip. Plus, I know I'd be running around all weekend, staying up too late and probably drinking too much (I'm just saying, it happened last year). I'd come home even sicker than I am now.

So -- weeping with frustration, because I do not rule the world and can't even command my own health -- I cancelled the trip last night. My cousin Sarah's getting married in the desert in June, and maybe I can tack an L.A. visit onto that trip.

What I Read This Week

Pete Hamill, Why Sinatra Matters. If you have to ask... This mix of memoir, biography and cultural history explores Sinatra's identity as the son of immigrants and the archetypal self-made man. I liked it.

Simon Worrall, The Poet and the Murderer. When three people in a single week tell me I need to read a book -- and one of them actually puts the book in my hands -- I pay attention. My friend Susan said, "Great book, lousy title," and I agree. Worrall's curiosity about the exposure of a "new" Emily Dickinson poem as a forgery led to this profile of master forger Mark Hofmann, whose forgeries of early Mormon documents eventually drove him to murder. The Mormon forgeries are the center of the book; the Dickinson story serves as a bracketing device, and feels almost tangential.

Maeve Binchy, Nights of Rain and Stars. Maeve Binchy's novels are literary comfort food for me: they're nice books about nice people, in which everyone gets what they deserve. This story of four tourists fleeing their unhappy lives in a small Greek village is not one of her stronger efforts, but it was restful company for a sick day.

Laura Lippman, To The Power of Three. This is the novel I reread the "Betsy-Tacy" books for. Perri, Kat and Josie are high school seniors who have been best friends since childhood. Days before graduation, shots go off in the girls' bathroom, leaving Kat dead, Perri critically injured, and Josie shot through the foot. What happened here is less important than why; Lippman draws a searingly honest picture of the inner lives of girls and their friendships. This may be the scariest book I've read all year. Well done.

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