Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Patchwork Post: Epiphany, Les Mis, Books & Writing Life

Epiphany began on Sunday, which means the Wise Men have settled in at the creche. The sweet girl takes them on a long trek around the living room, up and down various pieces of furniture, before they land at the stable. (Not historically accurate, no, but it's still a delight to have them there worshiping the newborn king along with the shepherds and townspeople and various animals who have been there for weeks.)

We still have our Christmas tree up. In recent years, we've begun leaving it up longer and longer -- now that we're not putting up a cut tree, that's possible -- mostly because we all agree we need the lights. January can be dark and cold, and a little extra light is just fine by me. This year I've been especially blessed by our glass angel topper. D and S decorated the tree while I was down with the flu, and they put her right on top of a green light (green is my favorite color) so she glows from within with a lovely green luminosity. We will likely do our "breakin' down Christmas" traditions this coming weekend, unless family pleas (it won't take much) press me to go even a week longer.

D. and I had a date night last Friday, the first in quite a while. We decided to go to a movie (it had been a very long time indeed since we'd done that!) and took in "Les Miserables." We love the musical, having seen it twice over the years, once in Philadelphia and once in Pittsburgh. We also had the London cast album for a while (though it was stolen from us several years ago...yes, I know, such irony...if the thief is ever dragged before me, I promise I will be forgiving). D. got me a lovely 3-disc version of the entire libretto for Christmas, which he found used. It highlights performers from stage versions all around the world. So I'd been humming for a couple of days before we made it to the theater, where I was blown away by the grace and beauty of the film. My review of it can be found at the link here. I think the most important conclusion I reached in the review was this:

What I think the filmmakers do best here, however, is not to make the film “bigger” than the stage version, but to make it “smaller.” Drawing on the strength of the story’s characters, the film provides us with up-close, intimate moments with them, closer than we’re able to get to them on stage. That makes some of the singing performances especially powerful and poignant.
And oh my....Hugh Jackman's performance is amazing. As is Anne Hathaway's. Lots of tears shed before I left the theater, and they were cathartic tears.

I'm re-reading Leonard Marcus' introduction in Listening for Madeleine and am drafting my review of the book, which left me feeling such a mixture of feelings I'm having a hard time putting my response into words. I suppose the best thing it did for me was to make me realize anew how important Madeleine's work has been in my life and how much I miss her.

I'm enjoying Prayers for the Writer, compiled by Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney. While looking for Schmidt books recently, I came across a used copy of a textbook on children's literature he co-authored a decade or so ago, and picked it up for almost nothing. (I subscribe to the school of thought that if Gary Schmidt has anything to do with a book, it will be good. Sort of the same school of thought that says if Alan Rickman read the phone book, I'd sit there and listen.) Though I'm not usually a fan of text books, this is one is lively and about a topic near and dear to my heart, and each chapter (on different genres in children's lit) also includes reflections and exercises for those teaching and writing literature for children. It's helping me think through some things for my non-fiction WIP, which at the moment feels more front-burnerish than my fiction, though that's definitely still simmering too.

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