The Writer's Life

My adventures promoting my books on the streets of Brooklyn, and my thoughts on books, film and current events.

The Writer's Life 8/3 -

This week I watched a television production of Dr. Zhivago (2002), courtesy of Netflix. It was in two parts, each less than two hours. Based on the novel by Boris Pasternack, one can't help but compare it to David Lean's 1965 film, which won five Oscars. The first is more cinematic, of course, the second more intimate. Which Lara was better, Julie Christie or Kiera Knightley? Christie was so beautiful, her blue eyes so devastating, that she was irresistible. Knightley, in one of her early roles here, displayed the talent that has made her one of the world's best actresses - toss up. And the villain - Rod Steiger vs. Sam Neill? The former was volatile, the latter chose a more reserved sense of menace - toss up. As for the hero.... I was never a fan of Omar Sharif. Hans Matheson, 27 at the time of release, was excellent. Of course, the story and the backdrop, the madness Russia was undergoing, are the stuff writers dream of. Not having read the novel, I don't know which version follows it more closely. As far as I recall, only the endings are considerably different. There is no ambiguity in the latter. I was particularly impressed with one ten-minute stretch where the doctor is forced to serve a revolutionary squad and witnesses harrowing atrocities. The original's score, by Maurice Jarre, was memorable, particularly Lara's Theme. It won the Oscar. I kept hearing it in my head as I watched the remake, which used what seems like Russian folk music, although the score is credited to a paisan, Ludivico Einaudi. Two mournful pieces in the second part perfectly captured the mood, the tragedy Russian was undergoing. The production was also directed by a goombah, Giacomo Campiotti. Hai fatto bene, signore. On a scale of five, four. The folks at IMDb rate it 7.3 out of ten. The original scores eight. Both are more than worthwhile.

When people are panting from the humidity, it usually isn't a good omen for business. Fortunately, that wasn't the case today for the floating book shop. My spirits buoyed as soon as I saw Mrs. Eclectic approach. She didn't disappoint, buying eight books across the genre spectrum. But the best sale of the day was odd. Among the 30 or so books Simon, the 84-year-old vet, donated the other day was one in German that had the word Kampf, as in Hitler's Mein Kampf, in the title. I know it means "struggle." At first I thought I'd have to wait for a fluke occurrence, a German-speaking person to pass, to unload it. Then I remembered Hans, aka Mr. Su Do Ku, who is Swiss. Sure enough, he showed today and is fluent in German. He explained that the title referred to a coming battle, an endgame. Although we've spoken countless times, it was his first purchase. Thank you, sir, and madam, and the other buyers.

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The Writer's Life 8/2 - Stories

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