By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director, TFCB
When I was a young person, I read books one at a time, from start to finish. I thought doing otherwise was not allowed. One of the benefits of age is that you get to approach your leisure reading in the full awareness that there are no laws on the books to guide one’s choice or manner of reading. I find myself reading more than one book at a time these days, and it’s not unusual that, gasp, I don’t finish each and every book I pick up.
Here’s a glimpse of what’s in my stack of current reads:
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster. I was initially exposed to this story through the 1984 David Lean film. It stars Judy Davis, one of my favorite actors, in the role of Adela Quested. At the crux of one of the main plot lines of the story (set in British India of the 1920s) is Miss Quested’s ability to take a brave stand that costs her just about everything—her place in her community, her fiance, her sense of safety. Yet while losing all this, she gains things of greater value—self-respect, maturity, dignity. I watched the movie three times while recuperating from a recent surgery and am enjoying the book just as much as I did the film.
The Inner Voice: The Making of a Singer by Renee Fleming. I’m an unabashed opera fan, and Renee Fleming is one of my favorite modern sopranos. She has a truly unique voice, often described as “liquid gold.”
Even if you aren’t into opera, you probably would recognize Ms Fleming. She’s everywhere. Singing “The Perfect Day” with Lou Reed in Prague last November for the twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution,
singing a solo (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”) at the Obama inauguration in January 2009, baking cookies with Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg on Martha’s TV show this past Christmas, singing an aria from Verismo, her latest Grammy Award-winning CD, on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. You can’t miss Renee. (Her birthday was on Sunday, Valentine’s Day.)
As far as (auto)biographies go, this is a pretty good one because it’s not hamstrung by the cradle-to-grave, this happened, that happened format. It’s the biography of Ms Fleming’s voice—how she developed it, how she nurtures it, what she sings, how she sings, and why. If you want the dirt about her personal life, you have to go elsewhere.
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung. I’ve long been interested in the field of depth psychology and realized recently that I don’t actually know much about the life of this Swiss psychoanalyst, one of a select group at the root of it all. Jung wrote his autobiography quite late in life, and I’m enjoying the fact that it’s organized thematically. You can pick it up at any point, read a section, and feel completely satisfied. I just finished reading the chapter about his relationship and eventual break with Freud. It got down to fundamental disagreements about God and sex.
On a side note, Jung’s The Red Book has been published after heirs and so-called disciples agreed to release a facsimile edition late in 2009, almost fifty years after Jung’s death in 1961. It’s a highly personal tome, of writings and artwork, that Jung described as coming from a process of “active imagination” and through which (along with other things) he developed some of his seminal ideas about the human unconscious. Since it costs more than one hundred dollars, I’m planning to trudge over to the main library to see if they have a copy.
Let us know what you’re reading, and check back next week for more from TFCB!