A Single Man: Why it’s Worth Watching and Reading

It is rare to find a book and a movie of the same story that are both so beautifully executed that each could stand on its own merit as a separate and distinct work of art. Most typically, one or the other will stand out as the more powerful work, but in the case of A Single Man, I find it very difficult to pick a favorite.

ASingleMan_Movie_Soundtrack

A Single Man is a very moving story of the human condition. The story follows 24 hours with George, an Englishman and a professor living in Southern California in the 1960s. We find George in midlife, shortly after losing his partner, Jim. Raw with grief, George feels torn between life and death. His grief and loneliness pull him toward death, but life calls him to fill the routines of his day in which he stumbles upon things that give him joy and remind him what he loves about being alive.

Though A Single Man was controversial when it was originally published in 1964 for its topic of homosexuality, A Single Man is not exclusively a story about what it’s like to be gay, it is more a story about what it’s like to be human, to experience loss and grief, but to still have appreciation and sentiment for the beauty of the world. As a result of George’s sexual orientation, he expresses feelings of isolation and feels that he is an outsider in a society not accepting of people who are gay, though you get the sense that he is even more of an outsider for his classical values in a world ramping up to mass production and consumerism than for any other reason; George is bewildered by his neighbor’s children chanting TV jingles and smashing things with hammers, while he drives to class to talk about literature to a group of largely apathetic college students.

The MovieA_Single_Man_DVD

A Single Man was made into a visually stunning movie in 2009, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. The movie stays very close to the book both in content and dialogue, but highlights the story differently by stressing the time period and the shift from classical principles to consumerism. The 1960s hair, makeup, outfits, cars, and architecture featured in the film, particularly the Lautner House George calls home, bring a sense of class to equal George’s professional reserve and dignity, portrayed superbly by Colin Firth (it is very difficult to imagine another actor playing this role so well). The soundtrack for the movie is beautiful and far from simply providing background noise, brings depth and atmosphere to a story with mostly soft-spoken (though easily audible) dialogue.

 

ASingleManBookCover

The Book

Reading the book may be a much more emotional experience than watching the movie, as Isherwood’s writing evokes
laughter, breaks your heart, and makes you glad to be alive all in about 186 pages. The charming quirks of George’s character shine through the pages and the sense of his love for life in spite of his grief is a little more distinct in the book. George’s book character in particular has much more depth, which makes him more relatable for the reader, especially since the reasons for his feelings of isolation are explained more thoroughly through his thoughts. The book has a more timeless feel to it without the constant visual reminder of the 1960s, though admittedly that is part of the movie’s charm, its absence keeps the book feeling fresh decades after it was written.

“If it’s going to be a world with no time for sentiment, it’s not a world
that I want to live in.” 
– George, A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

 

– Sarah Fullwood, Library Marketing

Denton Public Library has copies of the DVD available for checkout, the audiobook may be downloaded through Overdrive, and the book may be checked out using the InterLibrary Loan system (borrowed and sent to your library from another library at no cost to you).

Listen to the Audiobook

Use the InterLibrary Loan system to borrow the Book

Borrow the DVD

Listen to the Soundtrack on hoopla

Before they were stars in a galaxy far, far away

As you might have heard, a new movie in a popular film series recently came out.  I’m not here to talk about that film. I’ve seen it and it’s entertaining. Rather, I’d like to point out some of the actors in that film and the incredible work they did long before they entered a galaxy far, far away. All the works mentioned below are available through the library’s collection.

John Boyega is a veteran of fighting off space threats as he demonstrated in “Attack the Block.”

attack-the-block1

In this film, Boyega plays Moses, the leader of a gang of, well let’s just call them young miscreants.  The gang’s neighborhood comes under attack one evening from alien invaders falling from space.  In true defend your home against any threat fashion, the group decides to fight off the aliens on their own using a variety of homemade weapons.

Attack-the-Block2

The film is quickly becoming a cult classic as it’s a wonderful mix of horror, science fiction, action, and comedy.  Boyega is memorable as Moses, showing a range of emotions silently on his face that most actors need pages and pages of dialogue to convey.

**

For the past several years, Gwendoline Christie has played the towering Brienne of Tarth on the HBO series,  Game of Thrones.

BrienneoftarthThe first four seasons are available for check out and the fifth season will be coming in March. I’ve had people that don’t like fantasy or medieval settings remark how much they love this show.  Season 3 stands out as Christie and co-star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau show great acting  in scenes together that should have garnered each award attention.

**

Finally, Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac were previously in a film together.  The two starred in “Ex Machina” a science fiction thriller.  Gleeson plays a programmer for a search engine company who ends up being chosen to give the Turing Test to an artificial intelligence humanoid robot.  Isaac plays the inventor of the machine named Ava.  Both actors are great but the real standout is the actress playing Ava. Alicia Vikander is her name and her acting in this film has already garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.

Ex-Machina-Cast-WallpapersFor those who love science fiction films that make you think, this is the movie for you.  It takes a look at where technology may soon take humanity and the questions that might come with such advancements.  And isn’t that what the best science fiction should do?

Jess Edward Turner

South Branch Library

The Joy of Non-Fiction

It is a truth universally acknowledged (apologies to Ms. Austen) that men prefer non-fiction and women prefer fiction. Or is it? I struggled to find any hard data proving this, but only found researchers admitting that there’s very little information on this topic, and mostly just anecdotal. There seems to be some agreement that as children, boys are often encouraged to read non-fiction because that seems to be what they will enjoy, while girls are seen as more prolific readers, and appreciate the feeling of empathy that can come from reading fiction. There is also some agreement that publishing companies often choose to target women when it comes to marketing upcoming titles.

If we are going by anecdotal evidence, 22 years of public library experience has shown me that men and women of all ages appear to love non-fiction; in fact many library customers seem to make a habit of reading a wide range of non-fiction titles and subjects. The Denton Public Library is more than happy to indulge this excellent habit!

In fact, the Non-Fiction Book Discussion Group, which meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7pm at the North Branch Library, has enjoyed a wide range of titles that have encouraged some interesting discussions. The nature of non-fiction is a wide world of possibilities. Some recent favorites include:

Book Cover

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (152.44 RON)

The author of The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Psychopath Test takes a closer look at people have been shamed and humiliated on social media and the impact that it’s had on their lives.

 

Book Cover

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (940.21 GRE)

The author theorizes that the Renaissance began when a 15th century book hunter found what was possibly the last remaining manuscript of the ancient Roman poet Lucretius’s poem On the Nature of Things. The group really enjoyed this book, but weren’t so sure the author proved his point…….

 

Book Cover

Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of the 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free by Hector Tobar (363.1196 TOB)

You may remember the story of the miners, and maybe even saw clips of their rescue. But the author looks at the psychological impact of the disaster on these men, and he was the only person to whom all 33 agreed to tell their collective story. The movie is great, but it only tells a very small part of what actually happened.

 

Ask a staff member for a recommendation, or post your own favorite in the comments!

 

Kerry Montz – North Branch

 

In The Weeds 12.9.15: Elzjs Rocks!

I decided to search for Elvis Presley in the 1940 U.S. Census in Ancestry.com and discovered something bizarre in how they indexed it. Look at the following table taken from that webpage for his line on the census page:

Name Elzjs Pressley
Age 5
Estimated Birth Year January 8, 1935
Gender Male
Race White
Birthplace Mississippi
Marital Status Single
Relation to Head of House Son
Home in 1940 Lee, Mississippi
Inferred Residence in 1935 Rural, Lee
Residence in 1935 Rural Lee
Resident on farm in 1935 Yes
Sheet Number 21B
Attended School or College No
Highest Grade Completed None
Weeks Worked in 1939 48
Income 360
Income Other Sources No

 

Here is the actual page from the census:

Eljzs1940

 

If you’ll notice, the census taker misspelled the surname, Presley, as “Pressley” and whoever indexed Elvis himself thought that “Elzjs” was a possibility. In Mississippi in 1940. When you type in “Elvis Presley”, your search results bring up the misspelling but, as long as you know the names of his parents or birthdate, you can infer that its him.

Ths point of this is to show how common it is for indexing and misspellings to be mistaken in census records. Even The King suffers the indignity! As co-worker Bill Smith mentioned to me, maybe it’s the first instance of “Rock and Roll Respellings” ie: “Beatles” for beetles, “Led” for lead, “Ratt” for rat, etc.

published by Chuck Voellinger

At The Cut

I’ve lived in Denton for about five years. Music was my original reason for moving to Denton. Don Henley, Nora Jones, Roy Orbison and Meat Loaf have roamed University of North Texas or North Texas State University’s (as you may know it) hallways at one time or another. Funk legend Sly Stone was born in Denton and UNT’s one a clock lab band has won several Grammys. Needless to say this environment harvests an abundance of creative energy.

In my late teens I traveled from Dallas to Denton more times than I can count to see some of my favorite bands. One of the places that housed such acts was Hailey’s club. Last week owner of Hailey’s, Jennifer Gibbs, announced its closing its doors at the end of the year and open up a non-music related venture.

Vic Chesnutt was one of many that graced the Hailey’s stage. Chesnutt was a quadriplegic gifted with an uncanny ability to craft songs with incredible depth despite being able to play a very limited number of chords. Although not a house hold name you may have seen Chesnutt in Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade.

Recently a memoir commemorating Chesnutt was published its entitled “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving up Vic Chesnutt” it chronicles Chesnutt through highs and lows, written by one of his touring band members and close friend Kristin Hersh. Seeing this book in the library I naturally gravitated towards it and was pleasantly surprised of how insightful it was at grasping the characteristics of a man dealing with struggles mentally and physically. Although unknown to most Chesnutt was an influence to many singers and songwriters. In 2006 NPR dubbed Chesnutt as one of the top ten greatest living songwriters alongside artists like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.

Below are a few items available for check out at the Denton Public Library by or about Vic Chesnutt including the book mentioned above and a CD entitled “At the Cut”.

VicChesnutt1

VicChesnutt2

This video was recorded at Hailey’s and was the second to last live performance by Chesnutt before his death in 2009.

https://youtu.be/DryKoGfQg74

Abdon Gonzalez
Library Assistant- Public Services
Emily Fowler Public Library