A Film for April: Sweet Bean

Based on the novel Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa this 2015 film directed by Naomi Kawase is a slow and gentle story about three people on the margins of society bought together by cooking.

Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase) is a middle aged man weighed down by his past. He runs a small bakery selling dorayaki to locals, getting up early to make the pancakes. An elderly lady, Tokue (Kirin Kiki), responds to his advertisement for help and after a while he grudgingly accepts her offer, while noticing her crippled hands. She is overjoyed at the prospect of working but horrified by the offensively large plastic bucket of wholesale bean paste he uses for the filling. Carefully she shows him how to make it himself, listening to the beans and watching, watching. Word soon gets around about the new dorayaki recipe and the shop becomes a destination. But when rumours spread that Tokue’s hands have been disfigured by leprosy, Sentaro has to let her go.

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Classics Club Spin #26

The spin has been spun and my number 11 was The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Published in 1851 the back cover blurb says:

In the final years of the seventeenth century in a small town in New England, the venerable Colonel Pyncheon decides to erect a ponderously oak-framed and spacious family mansion. It occupies the spot where Matthew Maule, ‘an obscure man’, had lived in a log hut, until his execution for witchcraft. From the scaffold, Maule points his finger at the presiding Colonel and cries ‘God will give him blood to drink!’ The fate of Colonel Pyncheon exerts a heavy influence on his descendants in the crumbling mansion for the next century and a half.

Crikey, this does sound thrilling! I’ve got until the end of May to read it and on flicking through I see there’s a character called Hepzibah, which is another good sign. And to add to all the good news, I was able to buy my copy in an actual bookshop so it really was cheer up Tuesday!

Classics Club Spin #26

Time for another spin and it’s just the inspiration I need! I don’t have 20 titles still to be read from my original classics club list so I’ve duplicated the few remaining and numbered them 1-20. The numbers will be spun on Sunday, April 18th and whichever number comes out I need to read the corresponding title before May 31st. I’m hoping for Maurice. . .

  1. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  2. Eugine Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  3. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac
  4. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
  5. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
  6. Maurice by E.M Forster
  7. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  8. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
  9. Eugine Onegin by Alexander Pushkin
  10. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
  11. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  12. Maurice by E.M Forster
  13. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac
  14. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
  15. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
  16. Old Goriot by Honore de Balzac
  17. Maurice by E.M Forster
  18. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  19. The Book of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan
  20. Maurice by E.M Forster

Seize the Day

New York 1956. Wilhelm Adler a 44 year old living temporarily in the Hotel Gloriana is on his way to breakfast with his father, a permanant resident of the hotel that is home too many elderly retirees. As the elevator sank and sank and the great carpet billowed and the curtains drape like sails, Wilhelm can sense that this is a day like no other. ‘The waters of the earth are going to roll over me.’

Told in the third person by an omniscient narrator and through Wilhem’s own thoughts and flashbacks, Bellow deftly interweaves pathos and humour to track Wilhelm’s fall from a respectable middle management lifestyle. He’s been fired from his job, is separated from his wife and children and is now on the brink of financial disaster, this is his day of reckoning before he drowns in despair.

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