‘I always liked to think he made me and all of us better than we were. He was just about the smartest man I ever met.’—Liz Smith about Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal’s memorial service was held yesterday at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in Manhattan and was attended by many notables.  “The New York Times” account of the service points up his wide variety of friends, from theatre types to writers.  It’s fun to read how these people chose to memorialize their eccentric friend.

Another account of the memorial from the online news blog “The Daily Beast” is more in the spirit of this great man.  This account is clever, straightforward, and edgy.  For example the description of Dick Cavette: “Dick Cavett presided with that strange, weirdly charming affect that is peculiarly his—part reflexive TV host … and part self-aware personality at war with his own slickness.”

A Catalan friend of mine, who attended a Gore Vidal talk in Barcelona, was shocked to hear Mr. Vidal speak so disparagingly of the United States.  Guess he might have been “taking America to task for needless wars, a bloated military-industrial complex and political hypocrisy” as Charles McGrath of the NYT described Mr. Vidal’s writing.

To discover or enjoy again the Gore Vidal “usual acerbic, witty and elegant self” (Charles McGrath of the NYT) through JMRL’s collections search the JMRL online catalog for “Vidal, Gore” as author, search “Gore Vidal” as keyword to get library material about him.

~ The Reluctant Blogger

Mystery or History

The BrownBaggers Book Group decided on this blog entry title while discussing Josephine Tey’s book, “The Daughter of Time.”   Now you would think that the group would fall in line with the Crime Writers’ Association (British) who in 1990 proclaimed Tey’s book the best mystery ever written, but no, this group has a mind of its own and walked out the door still wrestling with mystery/history thing.

While Scotland Yard detective Alan Grant is convalescing from a work related fall, he is introduced to a portrait of England’s King Richard III and the story of Richard’s murdered nephews.  He finds a willing research assistant in American Brent Carradine who has a lot to prove beyond Richard III .  We take a trip through time to study the primary documents that open this ancient crime to modern crime solvers.  This meant that lots of English monarchical names (Edwards and Henrys, etc) are thrown around, and even though there are family trees included, many of us were quite confused and wondered if a Brit could get through this book better than we.

So the mystery: did Richard kill his nephews.  The history: everything else.  Most of us did enjoy the book so do give it a try.  The author was a contemporary of Agatha Christie and writes well.  Her name was actually Elizabeth MacKintosh.  She used a couple of pen names through her writing career.  She died in 1952 not long after “Daughter of Time” was published in 1951.  We did think that we might want to read another of her books to see how close to true mystery she might get.

Oh, and about the title: according to Wikipedia it seems to come from a Sir Francis Bacon quote: “Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.”

Check out JMRL’s holdings of her books.  And a keyword search for Richard III will bring up enough books for you to solve this mystery on your own.  I particularly liked Philippa Gregory’s “The Red Queen,” a book about Richard’s mother.

~ The Reluctant Blogger

“The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.” – Dawn Fraser (Australian swimmer, 3-time winner at the Olympics)

The Summer Olympics are upon us so how do you prepare for the big games.  You can familiarize yourself with the various official websites.  Two of the most “official” are  Olympic.org and London Olympics.  And you can check out those sites that let you watch live like Youtube and NBC among many others.  These sites will be running full tilt during the games, but what will you do until they begin?

There are a variety of resources at JMRL that can fuel your excitement or increase your Olympics knowledge.  Some suggested reading would be:

For the history of the Olympics:

Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement by John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelle

Olympics, a History of the Modern Games by Allen Guttmann

For the human interest stories that are so important to our fascination with the games:

Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Triumph: the Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympic by Jeremy Schaap

To find more at JMRL on the games search using “Olympics” as your keyword in the online catalog.

Some cool random websites on the Olympic Games:

Olympic Games on Line

About the Ancient Olympics

Olympic Games Bibliography

~ The Reluctant Blogger