ODDBALL Californian controversey view

Nov 30, 2000
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James,

The thing about Biel's yammering about the Lucien Smith's that made me cringe and moan was that he was impling that Walter Lord somehow was promoting "gender sterotypes" with the tale of the Smith's when Walter was only relating a real story from the Titanic.
What about "nascent nucular anxiety" being in ANTR? What a scream of an off-the-wall opinion if you ask me.
This guy ought to moonlight as a novelist. He'd be a CINCH at it. :)

Richard K.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Richard: He was making a fairly interesting point about interpretation there,(in the Lucien Smith segment) but was so heavy handed and, dare I say, banal in his presentation that his point was all but negated. That particular theme, if fully developed, if researched over a matter of years, would have made a really great book. I just thought that he picked a rather weak example with which to illustrate his point, then beat it to death with a stick, so to speak. So what we ended up being underwhelmed by was a good idea which was underdeveloped (as part of a chapter rather than the whole book it SHOULD have been) and at the same time overstated.

Michael: "Boring your intended readership to tears is not a good way to guarantee continued trade" got a laugh out of me, because I just finished skimming Sway of The Grand Saloon and the two follow up books, Beau Voyage and Grand Luxe, and was having similar thoughts when I came across your quote. Beau Voyage recycles LOTS of ponderous phrases from "Sway" but has far more pictures than text, and Grand Luxe is actually a must-have book for the illustrations (color and black/white) contained. I think that what I am trying to say is that Mr. Brinnin works best as a caption writer and as a compiler of illustrations. Apart from the impossible to find $300 "Arts decoratifs a bord des paquebots francais 1880/1960" Grand Luxe is my favorite of the lavish picture books.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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I don't think he should have used the Smiths, and I think that he made a mistake lumping the gender expectations of real life 1912 together with the gender expectations of an author writing about them in the 1950s. It is mixing apples and oranges, as one is a question of behavior and the other is one of interpretation. There should have been a clear division between the two, and there wasn't. PLUS, I think he was using a rather pat series of assumptions about the gender expectations of EITHER generation to begin with. My own thought on this one is that he should have concentrated on the role "gender politics" played in interpretation (and expanded well beyond ANTR- as I said there is actually a GOOD book hiding in this mess) and left the Smiths out of it, save for discussing how various authors have viewed them.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
The harping on 'gender stereotypes' and other psuedopsychology that I've been hearing about is what gets me. It's as if the man was trying to pass some sort of judgement call on people who lived in a not so distant time that had some very different attitudes and beleifs.

Somebody really ought to explain to Mr Beil what 'anachronism' is if that's they way he does business throughout his book.

James, glad to hear you got a good chuckle out of my little remark. In a not so funny world, I try to inject a little humor wherever possible.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart