Testament of Youth
by Vera Brittain
4 out of 5 stars
Read in January/February 2015
Synopsis (via GoodReads):
In 1914, just as war was declared, 20 year-old Vera Brittain was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later, her life—and that of her whole generation—had been irrevocably changed in a way that no one could have imagined in the tranquil pre-war era. Testament of Youth is Brittain’s account of how she lost the man she loved, nursed the wounded, survived those agonizing years, and emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time. It still retains the power to shock, move, and enthrall readers today.
I heard about this book during the inaugural discussion of The Things They Carried by O’Brien last fall. The professor leading the discussion listed it as one of the better memoirs written post-conflict (didn’t matter what conflict). Continue reading “Book Review: Testament of Youth by Brittain (4 stars)”
The Railway Man (2013)
Watched via Netflix BluRay February 2015
3.5 out of 5 stars
Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia):
During World War II, Eric Lomax (Firth) is a British officer who is captured by the Japanese in Singapore and sent to a Japanese POW camp where he is forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway north of the Malay Peninsula. During his time in the camp as one of the Far East Prisoners of War, Lomax is tortured by the Kempetai for building a radio receiver from spare parts. This is apparently due to his falling under suspicion of being a spy for supposedly using the British news broadcast receiver as a transmitter of military intelligence. His only intention, in fact, had been to use the device as a morale booster for himself and his fellow prisoner-slaves. The torture depicted includes beatings and waterboarding.
Years later and still suffering the psychological trauma of his wartime experiences, with the help of his wife Patti (Kidman) and best friend Finlay (Skarsgård), Lomax (Firth) decides to find and confront one of his captors who had escaped prosecution as a war criminal. He returns to the scene of his torture after he has tracked down Japanese officer Takashi Nagase (Sanada) “in an attempt to let go of a lifetime of bitterness and hate”.
I believe I put this movie in my Netflix queue upon finishing the book Judy back in late November. The book told a more horrific story of the British POWs held by Japan after the fall of Singapore, but Continue reading “Movie Review: The Railway Man (2013) 3.5 Stars”
The Lansing Community Library completed a successful Big Read of O’Brien’s The Things They Carried with a writing memoir workshop led by the same professor who moderated the panel discussion back in December. I took copious notes, but sadly no group photos. The workshop was well attended and I recorded the audio portion (as I can’t always take notes fast enough) and include it here for your enjoyment. In fact, I’m not sure where I put my notes.
Raw Recording of Memoir Writing Workshop
And, just for completeness’ sake, I’ll include the raw recording of the second group discussion led by a local English professor from the University of St. Mary:
Raw Recording of Second Big Read Book Discussion
I attended all the events and enjoyed all of them. I’m looking forward to the next adult reading program the library cooks up.