Friday, April 11, 2003

Gone to Carolina Archive: "The Master Butcher's Singing Club"

My personal baseball reporting: Fair, Balanced, Unafraid
Twins 3-6 Braves 4-6 And, WHAT'S UP WITH KANSAS CITY? 7-0??? That's kind of unheard of!
Today I'll just do a book review and a couple of movie reviews. I considered writing about the discussion we had last night during our United Methodist Women's circle meeting, but I'm not sure I can condense it down. We had a great program, thanks to Joyce Mc. She talked about the 3 women who went to the tomb and discovered Jesus gone. And Cassie's niece, Allison Mc, talked about how their Sunday School Class, 4-6th grade (there are 4 students), saved up $27 to buy a brood of chicks and some hot meals from Samaritans Purse. Now they want to buy something else. So we took up a special offering to give to her class to send in.
But from there, during the refreshment time? What a hilarious discussion! It started with talk about stray dogs, then went to reincarnation and ex-husbands and somehow on to whether nice people get mean when they are old, and mean people get nice when they are old....a great time was had by all!
So yeah, the book review. As you know, if you've been reading my blog, I have been working on The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich. This is another one of those books where you wonder how the author chose the title. I mean, sure, one of the main characters, a master butcher who immigrated from Germany to North Dakota, is a great singer. And he does start up a club of other singers who meet in his home once a week to sing. But it's not the main story. In fact, the book barely mentions most of the other singers...just one other singer, the town drunk, is mentioned with any regularity. In fact, I wouldn't even go so far as to say the master butcher is even the central character of the book. I think the central character is a woman named Delphine, the town drunk's daughter, who comes home from her wanderings as a circus performer and goes to work for the butcher. Delphine gets to know the butcher's wife, and, after the wife dies, goes on to care for the butcher and his household.
But, even though I think the title could have been different, it's not really a problem for me. Just an oddity. Sort of like the title for the book An Accidental Woman by Barbara Delinsky, wherein there is a woman who moves to a small town and takes on a new identity to escape her previous life. There's nothing "accidental" about that woman. Well, one accident...but the woman isn't accidental, in my estimation. Incidentally, the story is suspiciously similar to the Kathleen Soliah/Sarah Jane Olson story, up to a point.
But I digress.
"Master Butcher" is a great book. It was a great story, well-written, and I'd highly recommend it. The characters are varied and complex, but not complicated. The story is plausible, and that means a lot to me.
Now, about plausibility and the lack thereof...a word about the movie Far From Heaven. I'm pretty much glad this one didn't get an Oscar. It was touted high and low as a great flick. But gimme a break! The story is about a husband and wife. The husband turns out to be gay and the wife is befriending a black guy. The movie takes place in the 50s, when both homosexuality and interracial relationships were very taboo and caused much uproar. It is incredible to think that both would come together in a "perfect storm" in this marriage. It smacks of some little pointy-headed studio head saying "hmmm 50s, married guy, discovers he's gay. Good story, but won't be long enough for a movie...let's throw something else into the movie to make it longer".
I'm also a bit concerned about Julianne Moore. She needs to branch out. She's good as the helpless victim (Far From Heaven, The Hours), but we need to see more..."strong woman" type stuff.
Okay, those are all of my opinions so far this morning. It's only 8 am, so I'm sure I'll have many more opinions as the day goes on. But I only update the blog once a day.
Lucky you.

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