Harper Lee passed away today.
Best known for writing the modern classic that is To Kill A Mockingbird, she was revered as of the best American writers of the last few decades.
One of the popular words of wisdom that is passed around to writers is “write what you know”. Ms. Lee based her book on the world she knew and incident from her childhood. To Kill A Mockingbird is the story of a young girl named Scout. Her father, Atticus Finch is lawyer whose newest client is Tom Robinson, an African-American man who has been accused of raping a white woman.
In 1962, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, a film version of the book was released with Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch.
Last year, an unpublished draft of Go Set A Watchman, an early draft of what would become To Kill A Mockingbird was printed with protest from the author.
There are many writers (myself included) whose life long wish is to see their novel in stores. But to have your novel live on long after your bones have returned to the dust is the ultimate dream.
RIP Harper Lee.
When it come to historical figures, especially those that are no longer of this earth, we tend to idolize them, glossing over what them ordinary human beings.
Jean H. Baker’s 2008 book, Sisters: The Lives Of American Suffragists, follows the lives of five extraordinary women who have become icons of the early feminist movement in the United States.
Focusing on Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Willard and Alice Paul, the author starts in the 1840’s with Lucy Stone and ends with Alice Paul in the 1920’s. Living in an era when women were second class citizens and without rights, these women dared to step forward and challenge the status quo.
What I liked about this book is that the author wrote about her subjects as complete human beings, warts and all. What I did not like about this book is that the writing is a little on the dry side.
Do I recommend it? Let me put it this way. If the subjects of history and/or feminism are of interest to you, then I would say yes. The book is excellent if it is required for academic purposes. But otherwise, I would not recommend it.
Anyone who has ever made or seen a Holocaust film knows that the subject is not an easy one, for both the film makers and audience.
In 1997, a new twist was put on the genre with Life Is Beautiful.
Guido (Robert Benigni) falls in love with Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a woman outside of his station and his religion. Dora and Guido marry and live what appears to be a happily ever after. The product of their marriage is their son, Joshua (Giorgio Cantarini). All is perfect until the Nazis invade Italy. Guido, Dora and Joshua are deported to the concentration camps with the rest of the Jews in their town. Separated from Dora, Guido keeps his son alive and safe (as safe as a Jewish child can be in a Nazi concentration camp) by playing a game. The prize to be won is a tank. Will Guido and his family survive or will his game and his son be discovered?
At the time of the film’s release, many historians and survivors criticized the film, mostly for being historically inaccurate. While that is true, what shines through for me in this film is a father’s love for his child and the lengths that he will go through to protect his son.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
There are only a few people in history where a single name conjures an image. One of these people is Mahatma Gandi.
In 1982, a biopic of his life was released in theaters. Starring English/Indian actor Ben Kingsley in the title role, the film follow’s Gandhi’s life as he fights the rights of the people of India opposite the British, who ruled a majority of the world at that time.
This is one of the films, I believe that everyone must see at least once. It is a powerful reminder that it only takes one person with one voice to inspire others and change the world. Gandhi’s choice of non-violent protest is also a reminder that one does not need to destroy things or hurt other human beings to protest against injustice.
Do I recommend it? Yes.