Saturday, July 23, 2011

Southern Gothic - Tennessee Williams

All this hot weather makes my mind meander to books set in the South with extreme heat, long cool drinks, men in white suits wiping their brows with large linen handkerchiefs, delicate southern laidies swooning. I’m not talking Gone With The Wind; I was thinking more along the lines of Tennessee Williams – Southern Gothic.

Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams in 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi. He immortalized The South in such works as The Glass Menagerie, A Street Car Named Desire, and my personal favourites, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and, Suddenly Last Summer.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is set on a large cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta in the summer – and it’s hot. The patriarch and tycoon, Big Daddy, so brilliantly portrayed by the late Burl Ives in the 1955 Broadway production, as well as the 1958 big-screen version, is huffing and puffing in the heat and at one point, Maggie, played by the great Elizabeth Taylor, holds her glass up to her brow to cool down. Ceiling fans slowly twirl over white wicker furniture, and shuttered windows are flung wide open, in anticipation of catching the smallest breeze. During the climax, the heavens open and torrential rains descend upon the plantation.

In Suddenly Last Summer, Catherine (again played by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1959 film version) has a breakdown after witnessing her cousin’s death in Spain. We see Sebastian in an immaculate white suit and Panama hat, running from the pack of boys who will soon devour him (quite literally), Catherine with a deep brown tan, in a swim suit under the white hot skies and bleached white sand.

Other Southern Gothic writers I admire are: Charlaine Harris, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Carson McCullers, and, of course, William Faulkner.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

With all the "Kate Mania" sweeping Canada this weekend, I thought it appropriate to talk about Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Why, you ask?  What does Anne of Green Gables have to do with the Royal Tour of Canada?  Well, according to all the reports on the news, the Duchess of Cambridge has specifically asked to visit Prince Edward Island, childhood home of Montgomery, and the setting of her charming novel.  It has been reported that Anne of Green Gables was a childhood fav of Her Royal Highness.

Without giving too much of the plot away to those who have not yet read AOGG, the story goes as follows:

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are brother and sister, living at Green Gables, a farm in Avonlea, P.E.I.  They decide to adopt a young boy to help the aging Matthew on their farm.  But, instead, the "orphan asylum" in Nova Scotia sends them the red-haired Anne Shirley.  Anne, while being a dramatic chatter-box, is imaginative and extremely sharp-minded, worming her way into the Cuthberts' hearts.

Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908, and has sold over 50 million copies; it continues to delight readers around the world!

Have you read Anne of Green Gables?