Music of the Swamp by Lewis Nordan4.5 stars
The sound of the rain was without thunder. It was as constant as the feeling of loss that suddenly I felt inside me, that now I knew had been with me all along, a familiar part of me since the beginning of memory.
A poignant sense of loneliness seeps through each of these interconnected short stories about a young boy growing up in the fictional town of Arrow Catcher, Mississippi. Yet, it is not a dismal little book; instead, it is laced with humor and nostalgia. One minute my heart would break for Sugar Mecklin, the eleven year old narrator. The next I was laughing out loud and reading phrases over and over again, sharing them with family members that tolerantly smiled in response to my unbridled enthusiasm. Sentences like this that launched me from my couch and set me down directly in the Mississippi Delta of the 1950s:
Late in the summer, deep in August, when the swamps were steam baths, and beavers as big as collies could be seen swimming in Roebuck Lake from a canebrake to a willow shade, I passed my eleventh birthday.
Sugar Mecklin yearns for the love of his father, a man damaged from alcoholism as well as plain old bad luck. He longs to understand love, especially the love of his parents for one another. He digs, both metaphorically and literally, to find this meaning, this hidden message of their destructive love. There are a number of other characters in these stories, each with their own brand of dysfunction. Sugar tries to make sense of these, too. I remember as a kid trying to ‘get’ my parents, attempting to figure out if other families were like mine. Hoping that I wasn’t the only one with the same disappointments, the same dreams. Wishing with all my heart to find a connection to another young person that felt much like I did… a confidante with whom to both commiserate and scheme. Sugar strikes up a friendship with what he calls a ‘white-trash’ kid, someone who is perhaps steeped in even more misery than the Mecklins. What at first starts out to be a grudging sort of alliance born out of curiosity and pity eventually turns into a stirring little intimacy of the heart between two boys that share at least one thing in common: their isolation. It felt good to be hungry and to expect no food to relieve the hunger. It was easy to pay the small price of a night’s hunger for the sweet isolation that Roy Dale and I were allowed to share.
There is a dash of magical realism in many of these stories, the magic of childhood, of innocence and dreams. It is a gritty novel that is beautifully written and punctuated with longing. Music of the Swamp left me thirsting for more.
I said—and even as I invented this I believed it—I said that in the foreign-language music of her song my ears and my heart opened up to a world larger and more generous than the world of my parents and our geography.
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil
The screenplay by John Lee Hancock was based on John Berendt 's book of the same name and follows the story of an antiques dealer on trial for the murder of a male prostitute. The panoramic tale of Savannah's eccentricities focuses on a murder and the subsequent trial of Jim Williams Kevin Spacey , a self-made man , art collector, antiques dealer, bon vivant, and semi-closeted homosexual. John Kelso John Cusack , a magazine reporter, finds himself in Savannah amid the beautiful architecture and odd doings to write a feature on one of Williams' famous Christmas parties. Kelso is intrigued by Williams from the start, but his curiosity is piqued when he meets the violent, young Billy Hanson Jude Law , Williams' lover. Later that night, Hanson is dead, and Kelso stays on to cover the murder trial.
For the uninitiated to the phenomenon that is Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil , it is based on the true story of high society Savannah, Georgia antiques dealer who was tried for the murder of his gay lover. The book spent over two years on the New York Times best seller list, and Eastwood took great labors to faithfully re-create the story on the screen. In an opening scene, the camera focuses on the grave of the great Southern songwriter Johnny Mercer, who was a Savannah resident. For the soundtrack, Eastwood assembled a collection of some of the best vocal talent around today, and each was asked to perform a Mercer song. The results? Well, let's just say Mr. Mercer would be proud.
Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil: Music From And Inspired By The Motion. Sorry, this item . And Evil. Its musical counterpart is this soundtrack album.
books to read after 50 shades of gray