An unlikely chat with Judy Blume

July 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

BlumeEventMost of us know Judy Blume as the woman who wrote those books we devoured as we grew up — novels that shaped our development, perhaps more than we even realized. We may have started with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and the rest of the Fudge series, then moved on to books like Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. Blubber, Are You There God? It’s Me, MargaretDeenie and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t and eventually graduated to that dog-eared copy of Forever we giggled over with our friends and hid from our parents.

We’ve passed these much-loved paperbacks along to our children. Perhaps some of us have remained Blume readers even in adulthood — digging into her books for grown-ups, like WifeySmart Women and the 1998 bestseller Summer Sisters. When Blume wrote the latter, she said it would be her last book for an adult audience, and she remained true to her word for years. But then, in 2009, the idea for her new book, In the Unlikely Event, hit her — like “a ton of bricks,” she says — and she knew she had to write it …

Judy Blume: Flight Paths and Trigger Warnings (Barnes & Noble Review)

Omar Sharif: Pure charm

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

the_rakes_progressTo meet Omar Sharif was to fall instantly under his spell. At least that’s what happened to me when I interviewed him for Salon in 2003.

Sharif was promoting his role in François Dupeyron’s cinematic confection “Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran,” in which he played an old Muslim shopkeeper in 1960s Paris who dispenses sweet nuggets of wisdom to a young Jewish boy slightly lonelier and much, much sadder than he.

“Smiling is what makes you happy,” Sharif’s M. Ibrahim tells young Momo, tenderly played by Pierre Boulanger, who drinks in his advice like nectar. “Try it, you’ll see.”

Sharif himself took a similar don’t-worry-be-happy view of life. He told me that he had much in common with M. Ibrahim. “We ended up being exactly the same,” he said, which makes it especially poignant, perhaps, to recall his description of the character’s death.

“It is the last lesson that I’m giving to the boy: How to die, that dying is not something terrible. ‘I am not dying,’ he says to Momo, because Momo is crying,” Sharif said. “‘I’m just going to the immensity.’ It’s something to smile about, not to be sad.”

The rake’s progress (Salon)

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