May 24, 2010
We’re watching this movie about a writer whose work is all but forgotten and a grad student starts writing about him to help revive his work. Of course, one of the things that’s clear is that he is way out of touch with the publishing world. He doesn’t know where his own publisher is working. It’s a good movie, but a little slow. Frank Langella is wonderful. He was great in Nixon, but here he’s completely buried in the part. He descends into the role of this dying writer. Lili Taylor is wonderful too. Lauren Ambrose does a good job playing Heather Wolfe, but she’s a bit cloying in her cuteness. Lili is really beautiful and fascinating and makes you wish you could spend a whole lifetime with her while the Heather character makes you want to push her out the window. Not literally, just figuratively.
I think about this whole problem of writers not getting published, not selling books. A writer who comes to me and wants me to publish their next book but their last book did not sell. Nor the one before that. Books are supposed to sell, at least that’s the general idea of publishing. You can’t publish books forever that don’t sell. It just doesn’t work.
We’re getting ready to go to NY for BEA, leaving early in the morning on JetBlue. I like Jet Blue. I had a second Alzheimer’s session today. I go in and read poetry at one of the facilities we work with. They liked the Mother Goose rhymes the best. They knew “Hey diddle diddle,” by heart, but the poem that had them all awake and singing with me was “My Bonnie lies over the ocean,” almost all of the old people, even the ones who seemed completely inert began to sing along with me. We sang, “My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea, my Bonnie lies over the ocean, oh bring back my Bonnie to me.” Then we discussed what the poem meant and the story seemed to mean according to us that an Irish girl had left and come to NY and was working as a barmaid and had left her lover behind in Ireland eating potatoes and missing her. “We all miss somebody,” someone said, “someone who used to be bonny like you’re bonny.”
“We’re all bonny,” I said. And I meant it, we’re all bonny to someone.