eagle2250

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Forsaking All Others A Novel in Verse by Alice Duer Miller published in 1931

I avoid reading verse for the same reason I avoid eating fish, while it can occasionally be wonderful, most of the time it has an off-putting smell and an offensive taste.

Okay, that's a harsh assessment of poetry/verse (and maybe, even, of fish) and not really fair, as I love some poems so much that I still think about them decades after I first read them (A Great Hope Fell by Dickinson and the Tomorrow and Tomorrow... soliloquy by Shakespeare are two). But those were "picked out" for me by the wobbly 1970's educational system of Central New Jersey; on my own, I just don't read poetry to find the rare good-tasting piece of fish.

So it was with trepidation that I opened Alice Duer Miller's Forsaking All Others A Novel in Verse. Heck, it was only because one of her novels was made into a B-movie I enjoyed (And One was Beautiful) that I even looked her work up - note the lowbrow way that I found myself in highbrow verse.

And here's where I'm supposed to tell you how the verse in this quite good - and very short - novel spoke to me / made me more of a fan of verse / blah, blah, blah - but, well, while the rhyming was neat and I occasionally fell into the rhythm, in truth, I enjoyed the novel for the story with the verse serving as an all but ignored sideshow. You can take the boy out of Jersey, but....

That said, it is a darn good story about a man, his wife and the woman with whom he has an affair. The characters are drawn in an almost The Twilight Zone manner where only necessary details of their lives are given: he's older (50s, my guess), New York successful and handsome; the wife is doughy, dowdy and devoted in a "first wife" way; and the mistress is youngish, but not for a single woman of that time (she's in her early 30s in, about, 1930 when the novel takes place), striking in appearance and embraces her role as mistress until she kinda doesn't.

To be sure, they all embrace their roles early on: the man genuinely avoids the mistress-to-be as he's been down this path before and doesn't want to hurt his suffering wife again; the wife knows it's going to happen (from the second she sees her husband and the woman meet) and is almost relieved when it starts; and the mistress is, well, hell bent on making it happen as she - unusual for the time - acknowledges her feral physical desire for the man and, call it what it is, stalks him.

The affair starts and sails along as expected - secret mid-day rendezvous, weekend romps when he's "away on business," fun gifts, little inside jokes, plenty of slap and tickle - while the wife suffers in silence. Yes, you want her to stand up and fight or leave or do something, but she is not a stand-up-and-fight-or-leave-or-do-something wife; she's been down this path before and believes her best strategy is to ignore it and let it burn out as, then, he'll return to her.

And she's not wrong until she is. After the early perfect, the seams in the affair start to pull apart a bit. When one or the other breaks an assignation, the ugly head of jealously rears up followed by recriminations, anger, explanations, forgiveness and resumption, but with a little less joy each time. Just when it looks as if the affair is about to wind down or, conversely, blow up the marriage - yup, it could either way - a surprising third path appears and changes everything. That I'll leave for those who want to read it.

It didn't change my opinion about verse, nor is it really a novel - a long short story à la The Saturday Evening Post is more accurate - but it is an interesting approach to, and twist on, the sadly timeless story of married boy meets single girl while wife suffers.
Poetry...an intriguing way to script a novel! How on earth did you happen to discover this literary treasure? I suspect I will be on the hunt to discover a local copy and give this one a read. ;)
 

Fading Fast

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Poetry...an intriguing way to script a novel! How on earth did you happen to discover this literary treasure? I suspect I will be on the hunt to discover a local copy and give this one a read. ;)
I backed into it by accident only because I liked the movie "And One Was Beautiful." So, I looked it up on IMDB.com and found out that the author of the novel that the movie was based on is Alice Duer Miller. After that, it was all Googling and then to one of my favorite old book sites:


I just did a search for the book there (use this link ⇩):


Plenty of good copies available for less than $10.

Take a look at this copy ⇩ ($8.89 all in with shipping):


I've been buying books from ABE for (wild guess) about two decades now and have almost never been disappointed with the condition of the book versus its description - 99% of the time, the description is accurate.

Good luck - it's a quick but interesting read.
 

eagle2250

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Harmony, FL
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I backed into it by accident only because I liked the movie "And One Was Beautiful." So, I looked it up on IMDB.com and found out that the author of the novel that the movie was based on is Alice Duer Miller. After that, it was all Googling and then to one of my favorite old book sites:


I just did a search for the book there (use this link ⇩):


Plenty of good copies available for less than $10.

Take a look at this copy ⇩ ($8.89 all in with shipping):


I've been buying books from ABE for (wild guess) about two decades now and have almost never been disappointed with the condition of the book versus its description - 99% of the time, the description is accurate.

Good luck - it's a quick but interesting read.
Thanks for the leads...that will save me a lot of looking and the prices are pleasantly reasonable. I willl provide a report after reading the book! Take care and have a great day.
 

eagle2250

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Two days back I finished reading David Baldacci's novel, The Hit, another mission for CIA assassin's Will Robie and Jessica Reel. Interestingly, in this present yarn, Will Robie is assigned to take out Jessica Reel, a fellow CIA assassin who has apparently gone rogue. Two senior CIA managers have been killed by a supremely skilled assassin and Reel is the apparent suspect. Robie has his doubts and elects not to pull the trigger when he has her in his gun sights and elects to work with her on something bigger than the obvious!

As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that there is a Deep State conspiracy to eliminate a litany of world leaders, in the absence of sanction and in a misguided effort to change the balance of power around the globe, for the foreseeable future. The two gentlemen taken out by Agent Reel were just two of what turned out to be a collection of eight traitors, including the man who sits at the left hand of the President of the United States, acting more in their own, rather than in the State's best interests. Thank gawd, Will Robie and Jessica Reel saved our collective posteriors once again! A fast and excellent read...Baldacci never disappoints. ;)
 

eagle2250

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Harmony, FL
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This past weekend I read David Baldacci's The Innocent, the Will Robie yarn published by Baldacci just prior to The Hit. Robie, just back from an assignment to kill a terrorist who is an oil rich distant relative of the Saudi Royal family, is assigned to carry out the assassination of a reported traitor within the US Government. After he stands at the foot of the bed of this sleeping alleged traitor and realizing the facts are not falling into alignment, he refuses to take the shot and in that instance a back-up shooter takes the shot and Will Robi, the hunter, becomes the hunted. Teaming up with a 14 year old, who has been orphaned by the assassins targeting Robie and Super FBI Agent Julie Vance, he manages to stay one step, or should that be one gun shot. ahead of the bad guys , as one by one they wipe out an entire squad of Army Gulf War veterans. However, Robie, as he always does, unravels the mystery of the subterfuge and brings the bad guys to heel! A good read, I slept well last night and so will you...read the book. ;)
 

Fading Fast

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The Hucksters by Fred Wakeman published in 1946

"My Theory on making friends," Vic said, "I am a man of many friends. They get me railroad reservations, hotel rooms, steak, scotch, all sorts of friendly things. But is it because of my personalty? Because they like me? No, I just give them money. The cleanest, simplest basis of friendship you can find."

And with that early cynical quote from Vic Norman, a senior advertising account executive, The Hucksters is off and running: a book that can narrowly be seen as an indictment of the advertising and radio businesses in the mid 1940s. But it can also be seen as an indictment of all business; however, that's only on the surface, as this is also the story of a flawed Ayn Rand character trying to find himself spiritually who discovers he is in the wrong business.

It's 1945 and Vic is a thirty-five-year-old bachelor and returning desk-jockey war vet trying to reestablish himself in the advertising business after his time in Washington and overseas (all far from the front). Broke, but confident, he talks himself into a senior role at a thriving advertising partnership as the account executive for its principal account, "Beautee Soap" owned and actively managed by the tyrannical (and wonderfully named) Evan Llewellyn Evans.

Evans wields his huge radio-sponsoring and advertising-buying dollars as a massive hammer that he smashes down on anything and anyone in his way or anyone who simply bothers him. The quick-and-dirty is that Vic's firm needs Evans' business to thrive; Evans knows this and uses it to hammer Vic to give him all his attention and to twist and shape the radio shows he sponsors to his whims. Evans is part Ayn Rand villain - he takes pleasure in torturing those whom depend on his business - and part carnival barker who believes sales pitches are best if loud and grating.

Nothing here about advertising or radio is pretty - the sponsors (like Evans) support the programs; the advertising companies, effectively, act as producers creating both the shows and the commercials supporting the shows to meet the desires of the sponsors; and everyone in it - including all the Hollywood writers, actors, directors and talent agents - make a lot of money, but hate it as they believe they are peddling pablum to the masses.

But here's the thing - author Wakeman, through Vic, tries to convince us that this is all sinister, but is it? The goal of the sponsor, the advertising agency and the Hollywood talent is to get the highest "Hooper" ratings (think Nielson ratings) for their shows, meaning to get the most people possible to listen to those shows. So, the goal is to please the most people. Is that bad? Or is it elitist arrogance that looks down on shows that "the masses" like because everyone involved believes his or her taste in entertainment is "better," is more "highbrow," is more "intellectual?" A narcissistic system effectively devotes itself to creating shows that it hates, but a large number of people enjoy.

In creating these shows and commercials for Beautee Soap, Vic navigates his way with Evans early by, like a Randian hero, being straight with Evans and telling him when he disagrees with him or when he thinks Evans has a bad idea. Evans, use to a surround of sycophants, is initial amused and bemused by Vic - a feeling boosted by Vic's early Beautee Soap campaign successes - but it all feels tenuous as even Vic knows you can't play it straight with Evans all the time as Evans' ego couldn't take it.

Vic tries to decide how much flattery he can tolerate doling out and still look in the mirror (Howard Roark in Rand's The Fountainhead quit a career in architecture to work in a stone quarry when he hit his limit). While doing so, Vic also tries to reshape his love life from casual sex (yup, forget '40s movies, in '40s books, people have causal sex and handsome Vic gets more than his share) to a serious relationship.

But here too, Vic draws a hard assignment as - on a train trip to Hollywood - he meets a beautiful married woman (Katherine) with two children and a husband away at war. They form a quick, platonic bond, but with plenty of sexual verve pinging between them. At the same time that Katherine is making it clear that no hanky-panky is going to happen, Vic is swatting away the sexual advances of a young attractive woman on the train and, back in New York, the "I want to get married" lament of one of his regular dalliances.

Once in Hollywood - there to sign a second-rate talent that Evans wants - everything heats up for Vic. Vic knows that Evans' choice for the star of the new show will not work; so, while trying to put the pieces of the show together, Vic also tries to find a way to get Evans to cancel the show, but of course, that idea has to appear to Evans to be all his. Simultaneously, Vic - who contrives to be at the same hotel as Katherine and her kids - continues his soft romancing until it heats up; which means, Vic ends up sleeping with a married woman whose husband is away at war. They both know it's wrong, but the heart and libido want, what the heart and libido want.

Of course, in an Ayn Rand novel - Vic just tells Evans the star won't work and he also doesn't sleep with the married woman - well, maybe he would have slept with the married woman as Rand liked her sex and there was plenty of extra marital funny business, even between the heroes, in her novels. However, in The Hucksters, the denouement of the two threads in Vic's life - Evans and Katherine - is more complicated than in a black-and-white morality tale, but it holds your attention in this page-turner right to the end.

And here's the thing about that opening quote on money and friendship - Vic doesn't believe a word of it. Here's Vic on what really means something to him [emphasis is mine in bold]:

That was one good thing about New York business - at least the bluechip, Wall Street kind of people the the big advertising agencies dealt with. There was a tradition and an ethic in their world of mass production and mass selling. When a man gave you the nod, that was it. The contracts could come later. Not that these well-bred men could not clip you as hard, or harder, than the sharp ones. But the wouldn't renege, once they gave you the nod. Old Man Evans spoke for them when he told Vic, 'A contract is a contract. A man's word is his word. That's how Beautee Soap Company operates. It's not that way with talent and their agents. A contract, or a spoken pledge, is something they try to weasel out of the minute they find it not to their liking.'

A man who believes that, is not a man who believes money buys friendships; that is a complex man living in a messy world trying to hold himself up to a Randian ideal. That is a man who wants to live in a world of "your word is your bond" and "your reputation is everything." Rand saw money as nothing more than a symbol of value whose value came from personal integrity, talent and effort - not some cynical view of everything being "for sale."

Vic grows into understanding himself as, essentially, wanting to be a Randian hero in a not-Radian world, which is much harder than being a fictional hero in a Rand novel. So, for Vic, no more meaningless sex with women looking for him to boost their careers or to cash out; no more pandering to small men with big egos; no more cynical meaninglessness, period - but what is next for Vic? He now has his personal compass set to true north - a hard step in and of itself - but as the novel closes, he's just starting his new journey.

One final thing (if anyone has read this far), author Wakeman's description, through Vic, of the feel and atmosphere of the 20th Century Limited and the Super Chief (that period's go-to luxury train combo for cross-country travelers) - the way the train's gentle rocking and tilting and numerous sounds and noises affects one's circadian rhythms and emotions, and the way the environment/ambiance of a train changes from car to car and as day turns to night - surpasses all the "travel writer" paeans to train travel that this rail fan has read. Which proves something I've always felt - most "travel writers" (not all) are "travel writers" because their writing abilities are limited.

N.B. The titillating blurb on the book's cover (at top) isn't subtle, but it isn't wrong, as a lot of the "bom chicka wah wah" from the book - Vic and Katherine basically spend a long weekend going at it (she fobs the kids off to a maid as they hightail it off to a hotel) - is expurgated from the movie. Unfortunately, this diminishes the movie as the story loses some of its logic and consistency without it. Thoughts on the movie here (second one down): #293
 

eagle2250

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Newt Gingrich, the 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives, a male Republican version of Nancy Pelosi, has never allowed much moss to grow under his vocational moccasins. A long time politition, a historian, a college professor, a keystone speaker of note and now an author, Newt collaborated with Jounnalist Pete Earley to write a novel, titled Treason. The book is an arguably spell binding yarn about international and domestic terrorism in this beloved Country we call home. An Islamic extremist bad guy calling himself "The falcon," is orchestrating acts of domestic terrorism in the US of A, through the efforts of another Islamic extremist Jihadist calling himself Viper, who is a highly placed mole in the the DC political apparatus. Attempts are made on the Presidents life, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff takes a shot to the head in an assassination attempt, eight young school girls and two instructors in a ritzy Virginia private school are murdered and two other girls , one the daughter of a congressman and the other the ward of a distinguished, highly decorated female member of our military, are kidnapped and will be murdered unless the USA agrees to release 100+ Islamic Terrorists from GITMO.

Newt Gingrich is one who understands our Federal Government and has a solid understanding of International and Domestic Terrorism and that understanding shows through in the telling of his first novel. The book will secure your attention and hold it firmly from the first to the last pages. It is a good read! ;)
 

Big T

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DuBois
Newt Gingrich, the 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives, a male Republican version of Nancy Pelosi, has never allowed much moss to grow under his vocational moccasins. A long time politition, a historian, a college professor, a keystone speaker of note and now an author, Newt collaborated with Jounnalist Pete Earley to write a novel, titled Treason. The book is an arguably spell binding yarn about international and domestic terrorism in this beloved Country we call home. An Islamic extremist bad guy calling himself "The falcon," is orchestrating acts of domestic terrorism in the US of A, through the efforts of another Islamic extremist Jihadist calling himself Viper, who is a highly placed mole in the the DC political apparatus. Attempts are made on the Presidents life, The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff takes a shot to the head in an assassination attempt, eight young school girls and two instructors in a ritzy Virginia private school are murdered and two other girls , one the daughter of a congressman and the other the ward of a distinguished, highly decorated female member of our military, are kidnapped and will be murdered unless the USA agrees to release 100+ Islamic Terrorists from GITMO.

Newt Gingrich is one who understands our Federal Government and has a solid understanding of International and Domestic Terrorism and that understanding shows through in the telling of his first novel. The book will secure your attention and hold it firmly from the first to the last pages. It is a good read! ;)
Newt wrote a series of "what if" books on the Civil War-all excellent reads. Anyhow, the point of my reply was that I met Newt about 15 years or so ago, and had a brief, but very engaging discussion (more a lecture!) with/from him, concerning politics. My view was that of a conservative Republican, and I made a generalized statement against Democrats. Newt proceeded to lecture me about the absolute need for a two-party system in this country, along with respect between the parties.